#metoo in a Political Rhetoric Classroom

Over the past few days I’ve been listening to excellent podcast commentary on the #metoo phenomenon and the resulting ground-swell of sexual assault accusations in the news. As a result, I decided to scrap my original plans for my Rhetoric and Political Engagement class today to focus on this topic instead.

Since it was a last-minute change near the end of the semester when deadlines are breathing down the necks of students and faculty alike, I decided to go with a less-is-more approach. Before class, I sent the students links to the podcasts (and one article) so they had a general idea of what to expect, but I didn’t require them to listen ahead of time.

Since we would be listening to podcasts (no visual component), I brought several adult coloring books and colored pencils to class for keeping our hands and eyes occupied if students so chose. I also distributed MeToo Discussion Questions to serve as a listening guide. We paused between segments for questions and discussion.

Here are the podcasts we listened to:

Learn about the official process for dealing with sexual harassment complaints at the U.S. Capitol–and weep.

As allegations of sexual misconduct continue to dominate the news, a look at how we are dealing with high-profile offenders and who is being ignored. Plus, a critical reexamination of Bill Clinton’s reputation, the difficulty of processing good art made by bad people, and how to brace ourselves for the potential backlash.

  1. Rebecca Traister [@rtraister], writer-at-large for New York Magazine, on how sexual harassment stories at the national level resonate with our own familiar relationships to power and gender.
  2. Michelle Goldberg [@michelleinbklyn], columnist for The New York Times, on the claims of sexual misconduct made against Bill Clinton.
  3. Sarah Smarsh [@Sarah_Smarsh], writer and reporter, on the sexual harassment accusations that won’t make the news, especially those of the working poor.
  4. Lily Loofbourow [@Millicentsomer], culture critic for The Week, on preparing for a public backlash against the post-Weinstein moment.
  5. Kathryn VanArendonk [@kvanaren], TV critic for Vulture, on how to parse the fraught relationship between artists and their art, particularly when those artists are accused of violence or abuse.

Unfortunately there wasn’t time to listen to:

Pantsuit Politics is a podcast by two lawyers. Their tagline is “Sarah from the left. Beth from the right. No shouting. No insults. Plenty of nuance.”

Their discussion of #metoo and the other podcasts posted here (On the Media and The Daily) begin about 40 minutes into the show and runs for about 30 minutes.

Background reading from The Guardian:

I’m thinking about how I might run a class like this next time, what readings I might pair it with , or how I might adapt it for a class on rhetorical circulation or women’s and gender studies. What comes to your mind?

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