Well, I am back to the blog following a Mardi Gras break. I was on my bike all weekend, but out late, tired, and often a touch too intoxicated to blog. I lost a tooth to some parade beads and took a nasty fall on Decatur Street that left me with a concussion, but all in all, it was a fantastic time. If you haven’t done Mardi Gras in New Orleans, you are missing out. Bring your bike–it made the whole event much more fun to navigate, plus it’s fun to decorate both bike and rider. I spent Mardi Gras day tooling around in a prom dress. Now that’s a fun way to ride a bike.
But Mardi Gras wasn’t just fun. New Orleans is a dangerous city, and this past week was no exception. Shots were fired, people died, and innumerable unreported tragedies surely took place. My students and I spent our class time today talking about the rape that happened up near campus, in Audubon Park. Tulane has been the site of many stranger and acquaintance rapes recently, and I asked my students what they think should be done about it. Several mentioned that we need more security on campus–emergency phones, lighting, campus police, video cameras. I understand this desire, but of course all the police in the world won’t change the culture of rape and normalized violent masculinity that holds sway here. There’s got to be a way to address the root causes of violence against women, to address the sexual assaults and rapes that happen every weekend on this liquored-up campus where we hear about the rapes perpetrated by men who don’t go to Tulane, but there’s a general silence when it comes to rapes that happen within the Tulane community. As I rode my bike home today I passed this emergency phone and noticed it for the first time. All the emergency phones in the world won’t stop the violence on this campus or in this town. We’ve got to denormalize both interpersonal and socio-structural violence in New Orleans. We’ve got to stop individualizing disorder and start cleaning this place up.