I am a cultural anthropologist
who studies and teaches about gender-based violence.
As a social scientist who has studied sexual violence for over a decade, I am committed to creating cultural change so that we one day can live in a world free from all forms of gender-based violence. I am an anthropologist, an educator, and an advocate. I am an anthropologist, an educator, and an advocate.
As an anthropologist, I study sexual violence and rape culture in the United States. In May 2014, I earned my PhD from the Department of Anthropology at American University. What does it mean to be an anthropologist? Quite simply, anthropology is the study of culture and people. I specialize in issues of gender inequality; more specifically, I study rape culture in the United States. Previously, I have conducted research on how women and girls are psychologically and physically impacted by sexual violence. I am currently designing research to help us learn more about the motivations and rationales of perpetrators of sexual violence. This is because the only way that we can develop successful violence prevention programs is if we first understand why some men decide to commit acts of violence. I am inspired by the work of organizations such as Men Can Stop Rape and Pro Mundo. These organizations provide valuable educational programs to help men and boys critically think about how they can use their privilege and strength to help other people, rather than to harm other people.
As an educator, I believe that it is my responsibility to share my knowledge about sexual assault with the people around me – whether those people are my students in college classes, my colleagues on Linked In, or members of the general public. Currently, I work as an adjunct professorial lecturer for the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at American University. I regularly teach an upper-level undergraduate course called “Gender and Violence.” I am also designing a brand new graduate course about gender-based violence; this class will be offered online at AU this summer. I also work as an adjunct assistant professor for the Department of Anthropology and the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Even if my classes are not specifically focused on issues of gender and sexuality, I always incorporate a few lessons about gender inequalities into my syllabi. This is because gender inequality is such an important issue in the United States – and around the world. Gender inequalities influence people every day, in many different ways. Sometimes gender inequalities are very subtle, and sometimes they are very obvious. I hope that I inspire my students to critically think about how different forms of social inequalities impact their own lives, and the lives of other people. You can access all of my syllabi here.
As an advocate,
I am continually inspired by the courage of the hundreds of sexual
violence survivors with whom I have worked over the years. I also
rely on scientific research to support my belief that almost all of the time, alleged survivors of sexual violence are telling the truth about what happened to them. This does not mean that I do not believe in “innocent until proven guilty,” or that I oppose due process; I fully support the rights of all accused perpetrators to receive fair trials. At the same time, I rely on scientific research, my academic studies, and my experiences as a rape crisis advocate, to support my belief that quite often, survivors of sexual violence face overwhelming challenges when they try to prosecute the people who attack them. Furthermore, sexual violence causes extreme physical suffering and psychological harm to many survivors. Because of so many cultural stigmas surrounding sexual violence, sexual assault is the most underreported crime in the United States, and even when survivors try to achieve legal justice, most rapists do not spend even a day in prison. I became an advocate for sexual violence survivors because of my volunteer work with a wonderful organization in Chicago: Rape Victim Advocates. My volunteerism as a rape crisis advocate who met survivors in hospital emergency rooms changed my life; I witnessed the extreme challenges facing survivors as they tried to deal with hostile hospital staff, police officers, and family members, and I decided to commit my life to creating a better world for people who survived sexual assault.