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Sociology professor explores race and class in the #MeToo movement

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Mary Texeira, Cal State San Bernardino sociology professor, brought attention to intersectionality and the overwhelming issues of sexual harassment at the Yotie Talks presentation “Exploring Race and Class in the #MeToo Movement” on June 7.

Texeira wrote her doctoral dissertation about sexual harassment among women in law enforcement and “has been thinking of these issues for a number of years.” When the #MeToo movement started, she said she was impressed by the celebrities who were stepping forward and telling their stories.

“I’m really encouraged by the way people have been responding,” she said, “and I think it’s because of the voices of those powerful women in Hollywood and in Silicon Valley and places like that who have insisted that this stop.”

However, she says there are still many groups whose stories we have yet to hear.

“As Oprah pointed out in her speech at the Oscars,” Texeira said, “there’s a whole group of women … who have been left out of this conversation, and so I want to do my part and call attention to their voices also.”

Texeira pointed out that the further away you are from being a heterosexual, white male, the more vulnerable you become in society.

“The marginalized are the most broken because of their, at least, triple jeopardy of race, class and gender,” she said and mentioned that sexual orientation, gender expression and other factors also come into play, making these people increasingly marginalized.

Texeira highlighted documentaries such as “Rape on the Night Shift,” about women janitors, and “Rape in the Fields,” about agricultural workers.

“These are the women who are voiceless, literally because they don’t speak English,” she said, “but also because they’re making life comfortable for us, stuck out in the fields or stuck in office buildings — somebody cleans this space at night, sometimes all alone here at night, which makes her very, very vulnerable.”

Texeira also shared a story about the sexual harassment occurring in public housing in Baltimore, and the victims, who are predominately underprivileged African-American women, are continually ignored.

According to Texeira, the most important part of the presentation was the topic of toxic masculinity. She quoted Niobe Ways, author of “Deep Secrets: Boys’ Friendships and the Crisis of Connection,” as saying: “We essentially raise boys in a culture that asks them to disconnect from … their desire for relationships and all sorts of things the boys articulate that they want.” Way says that this cycle leads to a culture that accepts lonely, aggressive boys, and puts them in positions of power to perpetuate such abuse against women and other men who are perceived as weaker.

Infamous men tied to sexual assault cases were also discussed, such as Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and Brock Turner, the Stanford student who served only three months for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman, and whose judge, Aaron Persky, notoriously said that any sentence longer than six months would “profoundly affect this young man’s life.”

“Let’s have better consequences, let’s have stronger laws and rules that work,” Texeira said, “I don’t necessarily believe in the whole idea that stronger laws are going to take care of everything, but we have certainly been lax when it comes to domestic violence, rape … we have marginalized women victims and women survivors and we should … move them from the margins to the center.”

Texeira, who has taught introductory sociology, critical thinking and classes on race and gender at CSUSB since 1994, has a doctorate in sociology from the University of California, Riverside. Texeira’s research focuses on social inequality with a focus on race and ethnicity, class, gender and sexuality.

The Yotie Talks series was launched in the 2015-16 academic year by CSUSB’s University Diversity Committee to discuss current issues that are critical to the university, with a goal of creating space for dialogue for the campus community.


TAGS:Mary Texeira, sociology, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Yotie Talks, #MeToo movement, race, class, sexual harassment, women, University Diversity Committee, Top Stories

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