Friday, December 2, 2016

Out in the Night

For my second event, I went to see the film Out in the Night: Criminalization of Race, Gender Identity, and Sexuality as part of a film series in the Gender and Women's Studies Department. It was a film about the New Jersey 4 who are four girls who were attacked by a man in the street and then fought back in order to defend themselves. The media labeled the event as gang violence, even though the girls were not in a gang.

The New Jersey 4 were a group of young, lesbian, African American women who had come to New York City to attend a gay pride event. They did not expect to be harassed and called names as they were walking down the street. The man who was harassing them then came after them, punching one girl and trying to strangle another. One of the girls pulled out a knife and stabbed him. Even though he was not seriously injured, the jury convicted the women to years in prison. Later on, appeals were made and the sentences were reduced, but it did not change the fact that these girls had had their lives changed forever.

I think this film relates a lot to the last class we had with Youth in Action regarding racism and prejudice. The New Jersey 4 faced several different types of discrimination including being women, black, and lesbian. This discrimination was part of the reason that they were harassed in the first place. The man that they passed on the street thought he had to right to make sexual comments towards them because they were women. When they responded to him that they were not interested because they were lesbians, he began verbally and physically attacking them. He was attacking them both for being women who were rejecting his advances and because they were gay. This was an interpersonal attack. When the police came, they arrested the girls instead of the man. The media labeled it a gang attack. This shows not only homophobia and the expectation that women can't defend themselves, but also institutionalized racism. The man had previously made homophobic comments which showed his homophobic ideology. The fact that the jury convicted these women and that the girls were sentenced to prison shows the ideologies and institutionalized racism that exists in our society.

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