Two compelling stories today that we wanted to think more about. We couldn't choose, so we want to ask about them both. They're different. Hope it's not too much of a head snap. Here goes...
Do you have kids in school, or do you work in schools? We're asking because we really want to know how parents, teachers, kids feel about the education reform measure, No Child Left Behind. It's five years old, it's up for renewal, and we know it's extremely controversial. One of our guests said that "hated" is NOT too strong a word to describe its reception in the city she covers (Chicago). How is it working in your city?
Change is always hard, but what's interesting to us is that that bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in 2001. But now, attacks are coming from all sides — people say it robs the schools of resources for art, music and the things that give education its spark. Others say it encourages districts to game the system. Still some say, it's about time that schools were called upon to teach everybody, not just "the best and brightest." We want to know what you say...especially if you have first-hand experience.
So, if you would, drop us a line. What could be more important than education? Yet, it's actually one of the hardest things to cover, I think. You can get so lost in numbers, in theory. It's why we're interested in how the new law has actually changed people's lives (or hasn't.)
And on to a very sensitive subject. Rape.
Our friends over at News & Notes hipped us to a new documentary about black-on-black rape. They knew about our Behind Closed Doors segment and thought it would be a perfect discussion for us (it was). The film, No! The Rape Documentary, was 11 years in the making; it's being seen at festivals. You can get it on DVD.
The filmmaker, Aisha Shahidah Simmons, was able to persuade women, including her own mother, to tell their powerful stories, sometimes in excruciating detail. Although inter-racial rape so often captures the imagination and the headlines — both the fantasy and reality are a backdrop to so much of the ugliness in our nation's history (slavery, the lynching era...need I say more?) — these days, let's face it, most rape seems to be intra-racial. That means white-on-white, black-on-black, etc. And there's sometimes an added pressure not to "inform" or betray "the group" to which one belongs; or the spectre of negative stereotypes. That's another, raw conversation.
That's not what we want to talk about (right now).
We're engaged by the question of responsibility. In a number of the stories making recent headlines — the Duke Rape (that wasn't) case, the Genarlow Wilson story — the throughline is choices around sexual conduct.
Who is responsible for which choices?
The rape documentary makes the strong argument that ANYTHING other than "YES" is in fact "NO!" In other words, "MAYBE" means no, "I'M NOT SURE" means no....SILENCE means no. I'm not a lawyer but I'm pretty sure the law agrees with that interpretation. But that doesn't mean juries always agree.
So our question: is there ever shared responsibility? What happens when girls/women present a sexually aggressive exterior? Do the rules change?
And NO, we're not talking about wearing a mini-skirt to the mall...with or without tights. We're not talking about kissing a boy and that suggesting you want to have sex. We're talking about the fact that girls are sometimes the pursuers these days...not always the pursued.
Are there new rules for new times? Or, do the old rules apply? We want to know how girls/women and men really feel about the gray areas. Or, is it not gray to you at all?
We think this is grist for another conversation. Just not sure how to have it in a way that's tasteful and respectful...but honest and real.