Finding Our Voice Description and Rubric

SOC 216 – Sociology of Sex, Gender, and Sexuality

Description of project: The “Finding Our Voice: Sister Survivors Speak” exhibit at the MSU Museum (https://www.museum.msu.edu/?exhibition=finding-our-voice-sister-survivors-speak) is an exhibit that chronicles the crimes of Larry Nassar, who sexually abused hundreds of girls and women while he was employed at MSU (if you want to read more background on him and his chronology, you can start with this story: https://www.usatoday.com/pages/interactives/larry-nassar-timeline/). The exhibit focuses on the survivors of Nassar’s sexual abuse, the problems that it caused in their lives, and their efforts to reclaim their own voice and sense of self. The exhibit also highlights chronic institutional failures, MSU’s and others, to do anything about the abuse.

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Your assignment is to view the exhibit and then answer the following questions in a written paper.

What are the themes that you noticed in this exhibit? Write 2-3 sentences about each one.
What concepts from our class could you apply to this exhibit? Write 2-3 sentences about each one.
How are race, class, gender, and other areas of identity explored or not explored within the exhibit?
People routinely advise children and adults to report abuse. One of the more challenging parts of this exhibit is learning that some of the children and young adults who were assaulted did report the abuse, but they were not believed or no authority figure reported the incidents. How do you think this lack of advocacy is possible? What do you think causes these contradictory messages? What are the effects of ignoring survivors’ reports?”
What do you think people could learn about sexual or gendered violence by viewing this exhibit?
Take a photo of one aspect of the exhibit that you found particularly moving. What about that aspect did you find moving? Include the photo as an attachment to your paper, or submit it along with your paper in D2L.

Your paper should be between 5-7 pages (not including the photo or citations), 12 point font, double-spaced with one inch margins. Just put your name at the top of the paper, no course or section number. Your paper does not need to have a title. It will be due on October 28 by 5:00pm.

There will be a guided tour by MSU Museum staff offered during our class period (12:40-2:00pm) on October 14. You are also free to view the exhibit any other time that the museum is open.

This exhibit will likely provoke strong emotion in you. You may feel uplifted and inspired, or incredibly angry or sad, or in some other way disturbed and uncomfortable. Sometimes learning requires us to be uncomfortable, and we can learn things from our strong emotions. Keeping this in mind, you may need to view the exhibit a second time before you are able to get through it all and able to complete the assignment. You may prefer to view it with other people, or go through the exhibit by yourself.

Some of you may find that this exhibit is too difficult to view, especially those of you who have experienced past trauma. Make your own decision about what you can handle, and if you feel that you cannot view the exhibit, I will give you an alternative assignment. **Please let me know by Oct. 18 if you need the alternative assignment**

Rubric: Your assignment will be graded on the following criteria:

Identification of themes and connections of those themes to course content – 50 points
Your paper should demonstrate knowledge that you have gained up to this point in the class, and your ability to apply that knowledge to the Finding Our Voice exhibit. For questions 1 and 2, think about how you can show me what you have learned.
For question 3 about race, class, gender, and other areas, this is your chance to demonstrate your knowledge of intersectionality. Make sure that you use ideas from the readings and/or lectures when you answer this question.

Understanding why survivors do not report abuse, or why their reports do not lead to stopping the abuse – 15 points
This portion comes from your answer to question 4; think about why there was such a failure in advocacy for these survivors. Your answer will be stronger if you include references to course concepts.

Personal reflection – 15 points
This portion of your assignment does not have to demonstrate knowledge gained from the course. I am more interested in how the experience of viewing the exhibit and thinking about it in the context of SOC 216 has given you ideas about how the problem of sexual violence could be fixed, and how the exhibit has generally affected you. In your answer to questions 5 and 6, demonstrate that you have given this answer some thought. Do not write something just to write something; wow me with your brilliance and insight. I know you have it in you!

Citations – 10 points
You will need to provide at least 4 citations for this paper; you are welcome to include more. They can be readings only from class if you like, or you can include a citation from something you have read in another class. You do not need to do new research for this paper.

Quality of writing/following instructions – 10 points
It is important that your paper be coherent and well-written enough that I do not have to read it two or three times to understand what you are trying to communicate. Generally speaking, if you make a decent effort and do not wait until the last minute to write this paper, you will get the full 10 points for this portion of the rubric.

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