Pecan Pie

Social Anxiety from the South

Archive for the ‘education’ Category

They Tried to Make Me Go to Rehab and I said, “What the Fuck is Up with All this Gendered Sexist Bullshit?”

I’m sitting on a sofa in the upstairs room newly outfitted with IKEA living room furniture, a sign on the wall that reads “HUMBLE” in the style of an old gas station advert and a weird looking clock that is impossible to read which is really fucking annoying…I had to have my husband ship me a watch because TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE.

I am waiting for class to begin.  And by class, I mean a 22 year old young middle class white woman who is triggered by Trap Music (the genre, not T.I.’s album with a ‘Z’) is going to speak to me and a room full of other women aged 19-40 somethings about…what?

Ah. Relationships with women. When we are in full blown addiction we will find women to be bitchy and take our boyfriends. I am not straight, but okay.  I never found my friends to betray me in that way, but…

Now we are learning about addictive behavior and…clothing?

I shit you not.

Stop wearing short skirts and Holy Respectability Politics, Batman! Dammit, girls, if you’d just dress like a lady, you probably wouldn’t shoot up so much and get facedownplasteredinthecar.

I bet you’re surprised that there’s research on the gendered ways we deal with addiction, just like there are racialized and sexualized ways…and those things intersect. Insert shock and awe here please.

Cis/straight/middleclass/white men are the bulk of all addiction treatments from AA to Passages. They are overwhelmingly run by that same demographic. And women, who raise the bulk of our children, suffer far greater instances of domestic violence, need assistance (that is often tied to drug testing or treatment completion) from the social safety net more often and experience sexual assault related to drug or alcohol misuse and abuse at astronomical rates are often completely left out of conversations about how best to deal with very specific issues when it comes to addiction. Well, unless they are being drug tested and having their babies taken away by DFCS. Wait, only poor women and WoC?  Okay.  Then we talk a lot about it. Mainly about taking them to prison and chaining them to beds if they are pregnant.

But our skirts, yeah?

In the US, the ‘‘good woman’’ is a gendered construct characterised as one who upholds exceptional moral standards; the good woman embodies an image of sexual purity, trustworthiness and innocence (Harris-Perry, 2011; Raddon, 2002; Thetford, 2004). Some scholars articulate that these images are also racialised, placing white woman as the hallmark image of the ‘‘good woman’’ – a mutually reinforcing construct of sexual and racial purity characteristic of societal ideals of whiteness (Anderson, 2001; Harris-Perry, 2011; HillCollins, 2000). Though scholars have long critiqued these societal ideals of femininity as discriminatory and unrealistic, the good woman image persists as a cultural identity that both women and mene spouse (Hill-Collins, 1990; Raddon, 2002; Thetford, 2004).

It is these gendered understandings of morality that get in the way of good sobriety, of good treatment and of trauma healing inside a facility. Already treatment is viewed as a moral failing, a neo-liberal understanding of individual responsibility with little biological/medical understanding of addiction (See Dr. Carl Hart’s work on addiction) and a pseudopsychologic/sociologic misunderstanding of social and psychological behavior.  Basically, you are bad and you should feel bad.  Jesus can help. Go to another meeting.

And it did make me feel bad. Even though I knew it was bullshit.

I watched girls, young women really, but barely old enough to be out of my Mama range, who had been violently assaulted or engaged in sex work (for which they had no reason to be ashamed) or engaged in sex for reasons they felt ashamed of (for their own reasons that I would honor) already be further shamed by talks delivered by completely unqualified techs with nary a background in women’s studies, addiction treatment, sexuality, sociology…or social work.

We are nowhere near being able to distinguish the brains of addicted persons from those of non-addicted individuals. Despite this, the ‘diseased brain’ perspective has outsized influence on research funding and direction, as well as on how drug use and addiction are viewed in society. Dr. Carl Hart

Even though:

Your risk of experiencing intimate partner violence increases if you are:

  • Poor
  • Less educated
  • An adolescent or a young adult
  • Female
  • Living in a high-poverty neighborhood
  • Dependent on drugs or alcohol

I sat and listened to this talk and then an activity whereby a fictional woman on a fictional island is fictionally coerced into having sex with a man with more power and resources than she in order to go to the other fictional island where her fictional fiancè is located, who proceeds to abandon her and shame her for her rape and she is then rescued as a distressed damsel by a third man all while her mother encouraged the entire scenario.

I later found out that the worst person in the story according to the LICENSED ADDICTION COUNSELOR was the woman–for a lack of integrity.

These two instances happened on the same day, back to back.

I’ve been sexually assaulted in the context of addiction a number of times. I’ve been coerced into sex in the context of addiction a number of times. I’ve been RAPED UNDER THE INFLUENCE A NUMBER OF TIMES.  I’ve also been violently assaulted by a loved one in the context of addiction and I’ve had my mom counsel me to “carefully consider my options” when it came time to probably leave. I’ve had horrific and shameful encounters with women friends in the context of addiction. I’ve been blamed for all of these things as a woman and as an addict/alcoholic by any number of people throughout my time in that world.

So. Yeah. Triggered. Sobbing.  And attempted to make some kind of headway with the head of program direction…but, you know, as an addict/alcoholic my word really didn’t mean shit. As a victim. As a survivor. AS A FUCKING SOCIOLOGIST.

“What can you do to gain knowledge in these situations?
Honestly, I dunno you ignorant fuck, what can you do to protect your clients from further trauma and respect the knowledge we have as experts in our own lives and hey these degrees that are costing me three times your fucking yearly salary?  Yeah?

Okay no then.

I heard the words slut, bitch, and whore more times than I can count and I don’t mean in a take back the night wild hairy underarmed feminist kind of way either.

I listened as male clients inspected the bodies of female clients, who touched them inappropriately, who bragged about having sex on property with young women who were clearly vulnerable and had limited opportunities for non-sexual physical contact (more on that and the rampant queerphobia later).

I know of at least two women kicked out for what amounted to specifically labeled gendered behavior that was not allowed and women shamed for not being ladylike and women who relapsed immediately after their discharge.

There was only one group who regularly “succeeded” and I’m not even sure we can call it that.

Source Material

A. J. Gunn & K. E. 2015. “Intra-group stigma: Examining peer relationships among women in recovery for addictions.” Drugs: Education, Prevention & Policy. 22(3): 281–292.

Babcock, Marguerite L and Connor, Bernadette. 1981. “Sexism and treatment of the female alcoholic: a review.” Social Work. 26(3):233-238. 

McKim, Allison. 2014. “Roxanne’s Dress: Governing Gender and Marginality through Addiction Treatment.” Signs: Journal Of Women In Culture & Society 39(2): 433-458.

Written by thelittlepecan

April 25, 2017 at 11:16 pm

Oh RLY, Well, Let me Just Tell You How *I* Feel: Student Evaluations and the Demise of Respect

I’ve actually had to wait a couple of weeks to write this.  Even thinking about this subject basically started me on the spiral downward into the hell that is a panic attack.  Mine are mostly silent, categorized by heart pounding, profuse sweating and “evil moths in my stomach.”

I’ve taught for three semesters now, but one of my universities is notoriously tardy on things like student evaluations, so I’ve never actually seen any of them from any of the classes I’ve taught.  I doubt it would have helped much.  It’s invariably easier to keep it together and avoid lots of situations that cause ugly comments on evaluations by teaching online.  There’s a format for organization, grading is easy and my students are in almost constant contact with me.

I really hadn’t considered what my students might say.  I figured there would be some good, some bad and some benign.  I hadn’t thought to look up how other professors had to learn how to grow a thick skin, or deal with the sexist, racist or homophobic vitriol that was written…I just assumed that most of it would be constructive.

And it was.

The problem is that it’s the ugly comments that stay with you.  Comments about your body, how you dress or even how you deal with more personal issues (like anxiety) cut right to the heart.  In a world where students are used to using technology as a shield to say whatever they like to whomever they want, online evaluations provide a platform to do the same.

The worst part about it is that it’s so final.  There’s no way to respond.

I researched student evaluations for days.  I agonized over whether or not these comments were going to get me fired.  I (still) have no idea how much, if at all, these evaluations matter to my superiors.

But, I blog and so the finality is limited.  I can respond here, consider my reactions to constructive criticisms and maybe give some support to other adjuncts (especially) who are dealing with harsh student evaluations.

1. The Good: Most of the comments were good or constructive.  My early class had great participation (n=21 out of 27 students).  On a scale of 1-4, my average responses for most measures was around 3.4.  For my first semester teaching face to face, I thought that was good.  Well above the mean into the positive range.

2. The Bad: There were several comments about organization.  I wish I had the opportunity to explain to students that I wasn’t adequately supported by the institution.  I had never taught the class before and was hired roughly two weeks prior to the semester starting.  I did not receive the text until approximately a week after that.  While I understand that students deserve a quality experience regardless of these challenges, they are legitimate challenges nonetheless.  Since I had almost no time to prepare (and no time to find out what resources were available to help me) I wound up doing lesson plans the day of or night before class.  Not a good way to do it and I agree.  I was often frazzled or unclear about exactly what material to cover.  I supplemented a lot with media, which I thought the students liked, but I think they felt I was phoning it in.

What I’ve Done About it: Since the semester ended, I have set up each unit with a slideshow, an activity or discussion question and an optional piece of media.  I know how I will run the class based on what I think the format of the class will be (a 2.5 hour class session once a week.)

I have also made clear policies that I hemmed and hawed about during the year.  I had a difficult time sticking to my guns.  Students don’t respect that and it won’t be a mistake I make again.

3. The Ugly: Wow. I had no idea students really talked this way to professors/instructors.  After receiving the following comments and basically falling into disarray, I looked up other instructor experiences and find I am not alone.  Here are my favorites and my responses:

Presentation coming from a professor is key. This professor started out on day one of school, by teaching with her shoes off. When your in a professional atmosphere, yout tattoos should be covered. This professors has tattoos on her breast, back, leg, hand, it seems like their every where. I understand everyone has tattoos, especially in a college setting, but I don’t expect to see them all over a professor body, when the professor is in a professional teaching atmosphere. The professor Sssshhhhhh the class, which we are not children. 
 

Yes, I often teach with my shoes off.  I also sing and present at conferences with my shoes off if at all possible.  It helps me to feel more stable.  I don’t expect everyone to understand, but I also don’t expect anyone to really care.  Yes, I have tattoos.  One of the reasons I went into academia is to be able to be who I am.  I have tattoos everywhere (but not on my breasts and quite honestly, bringing that up is incredibly sexist and totally inappropriate) and you can expect to see them.  They are part of my body and I wear what I wear regardless of that.  I don’t actually care what you expect to see, since this is college and you should expect to see lots of things you’ve never seen before.

I won’t “shhh” you if you don’t talk in class like a bunch of children.  You know, like during movies or when I’m talking? Also, your writing skills are seriously lacking. kthxbai.

The above was the only negative comment for that class.  The other criticisms were fair and I took them to heart.

Ms. Berry is a very laid-back and nice person but I have to admit that she is very unprofessional. She always shows up to class after the students have already arrived, after class has started, and she would wear 5 inch heels and then takes them off during class time because it hurts her feet (the same with regular shoes). She doesn’t cover up her tattoos and is regularly wears shirts that shows cleavage. Her lectures are unorganized. I understand that the syllabus can change with the teacher’s discretion, but she would tell us that it’s a win-win b/c it’s less material for us to study for our final exam.

There’s a lot to cover here, some good, some bad, some inappropriate.  First, I was never more than 2 minutes late.  The difference between a student leaving class and an instructor leaving is that I’ve always got students needing my attention after class.  I try to keep a handle on it, but many times it was impossible.  I never dawdled and I often ran.  I wish the university had scheduled my classrooms nearer to each other, but there wasn’t anything to be done about that.  Though…in a class where regularly there were 5+ students who never made it to class on time, I’m skeptical of this comment.

I don’t even own a pair of 5″ heels.  See above for taking my shoes off.  Again, bringing up my breasts…not appropriate.  I always dress casually or professionally and never lewd.  If your delicate sensibilities are that…well, delicate, move on.

Notice how this comment is so similar to the one above?  Coincidence? Maybe. I’ve heard tales of students banding together to make negative evals.  Of course, it’s just rumor.

That last comment isn’t exactly what I said…but okay.

She was never ready for class and alway got there late, complaing that she has to walk from B to A, when I walk from C to A and make it there four minutes before noon. None of the power points were hers and this caused her to rush through and not know half the stuff that was on the screen. She was not helpful when it came to review time, responding to questions with”it’s in your book” and “like i said before” making you not want to do any work at all. She was just really unhelpful and pretty rude.

I’ve covered the lateness.  Again, within the margin of error on a clock.  I realize students may not know or care why this is, but there is a reason and it’s a valid one.  No, many of the presentations weren’t mine (but many were), I was counseled to not “reinvent the wheel” when that’s just more work.  Good instructors use good resources wherever they can find them.  I used the presentations that go with the book or from other, more experienced instructors.  I can’t imagine I didn’t know what was on them.  It’s an intro class and I’m pretty sure I know most of the book without looking.

“Never ready for class” is of course, completely untrue. An over-exaggeration from a student who was overall unsatisfied with the class.

Yes, I often said “like I said before” and “it’s in your book” because I did (multiple times) and it was (probably you should read).  This remark is coming from a class that had multiple ‘F’s’ including on the final where all questions came from quizzes available to them online. I gave a crossword puzzle for fun, but prepping for an exam is the student’s responsibility…

I know. I’m very mean.

 

4. Lessons Learned:

  • Ask for help if I’m not getting the support I need from the school (i.e. classroom distance.)
  • Be VERY clear about policies for grading.
  • Preface the class with a disclaimer: you might be offended, you might not like how I dress or that I take my shoes off, but you will learn some shit you didn’t know.
  • Grow a thicker skin
  • Make a better effort to connect with my students.
  • Don’t teach more than 3-4 classes again until I’m more experienced.
  • Take control of my classroom.

In all, I learned a lot and I really look forward to putting those lessons into practice this fall and have an improved semester with my next class!

 

Written by thelittlepecan

May 23, 2013 at 11:29 am

Things I Have Learned Teaching or Things Sociology Students Say

1. Are the assignments, like, ‘required’?

Well, I suppose that depends on what type of grade you’d like to receive.  This is college.  You’re an adult.  The only requirements are death and taxes.  The rest is up to you.

2. I left for Spring Break early, had a fender bender and couldn’t get back to the beach hotel in time to turn in my assignment.  Take it, mmkay?

Yeah, probably not.  Leave early, turn your work in early.

3. I missed a week of class.  So, what did we do while I was gone?

I have no idea.

4. I was sick for 10 days!!! Take my work!

Feel free to provide documentation that you were unable to call, text, email or smoke signal me and we can talk about it.

5. The online dropbox cut off at the time it says it does and I didn’t hit ‘submit’ in time!! Take my work!!

Cause waiting until the last 5 minutes before something is due is a great plan!

My lovely, intelligent, wonderful students…who make me want to headdesk repeatedly.

sigh.

Written by thelittlepecan

March 20, 2013 at 8:09 am

Posted in education

Tagged with , , ,

Crushed.

I don’t know why they don’t want me.

I valiantly attempted to inform my loved ones without blubbering like a big baby.

I succeeded at that.

I attempted to drown my sorrows like any respectable academic would do, with jäger and PBR.

Not sure how successful that was.

Because post booze anxiety.

I can write to see what I’m missing, what makes me less than ideal.

I really suck at this woe is me low self esteem crap.

I’m Amazing. I’m damned good at what I do.

Jim says it’s because they don’t know me.

When I was in high school, my senior year I wanted so badly to sing this really popular country song at our last concert. I knew the new freshman girl who was everyone’s Ooh SHINY at the moment was my biggest competition.

I’d been busting my ass getting ready to audition at Shorter and Berkelee, perfecting my small classical repertoire.

“You just sound too perfect for this song.”

I’d learned music academically; a theoretical understanding was a requirement when my mother first signed me up for piano lessons.

And while I came into high school with a Tammy Wynette twang, I’d learned to eliminate it. I didn’t know I could bring her out for the appropriate purpose.

I thought I had to kill her to reach my goals.

When I write for myself, it’s raw, it’s vulgar, it’s decidedly unacademic.

I heard on NPR this morning a remark about Pope Benedict,

“He’s one of the most learned men in the world, but maybe he lacks the dynamism to get [our] message out.”

No one would ever say I lack dynamism.

You better believe next time my message will get out.

Written by thelittlepecan

March 12, 2013 at 10:32 am

Posted in education

Tagged with ,

HB 512, An Open Letter to Senator Henson and the Georgia Assembly

Dear Senator,

HB 512 recently passed the state house and is now on its way to the Senate. As my representative, I would like to express my fear and frustration at this bill and my encouragement for you to vote “no”.

I graduated last fall with my M.A. In sociology and have been an instructor for the past three semesters. This semester is my first in front of a classroom, rather than teaching online.

I love my students. They are smart and engaged, they let me know in no uncertain terms that I have made the right career choice. I am so grateful to have found my place in the world.

However…

in my first several months in front of the classroom I have dealt with students who may be mentally unstable, who can be combative and who often feel entitled. Allowing students to bring a firearm into the classroom limits the ability of a new instructor to safely learn classroom management and to maintain authority over the setting.

We are gun owners, my husband is a navy veteran, and I firmly believe in the REASONABLE right to own a weapon.

A classroom is sacred. It should be a safe place for fervent and excited discussion, a place where disagreements can happen without fear.

It should be a place without the need to go on the offensive, where minds and hearts are opened and critical thinking is fed!

Each State institution has a police force, security officers and/or agreements with local law enforcement to keep students and faculty safe. These men and women are trained to do such a job and in my personal experience are committed to excellence.

The classroom is not the place for a weapon, unless that weapon is the mighty pen.

I don’t want to fear my students.

Please vote no.

Sincerely,
TheLittlePecan
Instructor
University [Redacted]
[Redacted] College

Written by thelittlepecan

March 11, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Teaching

Well, it was all worth it…and the next five or so years will be as well.

They make me feel like I’m doing what I should, my students.

I’m nervous, but very alive.

I guess maybe I do know what I’m talking about.

Written by thelittlepecan

February 6, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Posted in education

Tagged with , ,

Summer Reading

Reading is one of the great joys of my life. My grandmother instilled in me a wonderful appreciation for the written word at a very early age. I remember summers at her house well. The local library was only about a mile away and instead of driving such a frivolously minute distance we would walk. The blazing hot asphalt burning my heels through my Keds tennis shoes, sweat beading up on my brow while I imagined the adventures waiting for me just over the hill. Sometimes we would stop and pick the wild blackberries on the other side of the fence. My arms all scratched up from thorns, but the sweet taste so decadent in my four year old mouth.

I would skip in anticipation, occasionally tripping over my own small feet and skinning my dirty knees. Once there, I loaded up on as many books as we were allowed to check out. The walk home was always much longer than the one there.

Back at her house, I would beg Grandmother to read them all to may. Maybe a few times. Then the trip would start all over again the next day.

I started kindergarten reading very well. For a while, after my parents divorce, my mother and I lived with Grandmother.

One day, she asked me, “How do you like school?”

“I don’t, it’s boring.”

“Why is that?”

“I already know everything.” (Out of the mouths of babes, right?)

In middle school, I devoured the Georgia Book Award nominees list each year and read high school level works like Gone with the Wind, Silence of the Lambs and QB VII. I was fascinated with Holocaust literature and loved reading books about it.

When I reached high school, summer reading again had a wonderful meaning. It was a chance to be introduced to new classics that could entertain me and bring me an ‘A’ in class. I enjoyed the essays assigned where I could show off my knowledge of the work studied and my comprehension of it’s themes. I took Advanced Placement English with the same enthusiasm I had as a five year old with my first library card.

One day, my ex-husband and I were taking up ticket money at a sporting event for the middle school where he taught. The high school was there playing a game as well and we had the wonderful pleasure of speaking with the AP English teacher, who was taking money for her team. Since my ex-husband wanted to move up to high school eventually, this was an excellent opportunity for him to talk to someone teaching NOW where he wanted to be in the future.

Our worst fears, propagated by sixth graders who exceedingly cannot read, were confirmed. Apparently, Faulkner has been banned from the summer reading list. Not because a child was offended, but because a parent, probably a Bible thumping illiterate who wouldn’t know good literature if it was spelled out in the New Testament, complained. The language is offensive. This parent also pushed for her child to be accepted into the AP/honors program at the discouragement of her child’s teachers.

We are raising a generation of live in the moment non-learners. Learning only what will get them through that day. Even though the benefits of the whole lesson will take them on a path much easier than their counterparts in college (CLEP-ting or AP-ing out of 101 and 102 classes, higher SAT and ACT scores), they refuse to see past the here and now. Why? Because so many parents do not hold their children accountable. The language is offensive, Harry Potter is about witchcraft, hell, my ex-husband had a student’s parent complain about Tuck Everlasting because someone is murdered!

Life is offensive. Sometimes you hear language that makes your ears ring. People die everyday, kids learn more about murder on CSI than they every could from a middle school novel. What the novel does that the tv does not, is teach them about death. About life and consequences. Global life themes that Grand Theft Auto leaves behind in a haze of CGI smoke.

Our kids will live in a computer generated world, but the pain and joy they will know in life cannot be recreated online. It is our responsibility as parents to give them the tools to deal with the intangible lessons of life. I truly believe a love of reading is a way to do that.

Reading eliminates two very detrimental things in society.

Illiteracy.

Ignorance.

Written by thelittlepecan

April 14, 2007 at 4:12 pm

Posted in education