CCE Mini Grant Reflection by Muriel Lavallee: The Empathy Gap

This project was supported by funding from a Middlebury College Community Engagement Mini-Grant.

“The Empathy Gap” is a documentary by Thomas Keith, a producer and professor at Claremont Graduate University. In this documentary, Thomas Keith looks at the way sexism and misogyny is intertwined in our culture through the influence of the media as well as how we interact with each other. The culture of masculinity is defined by meeting rebuttals with aggression, objectifying women, desiring extreme wealth, and not showing vulnerability. And the culture of masculinity is a contributing factor to the empathy gap that can short circuit a man’s ability to empathize with women and respect them as equals. In addition, Thomas Keith addresses the interesting similarities between sexism and racism, showing how they’re both rooted in cultural norms that discourage empathy and cause the dehumanization of groups against which the prejudice and discrimination is directed.

The experience was interesting because it was a catalyst for conversation about the talk, how it was done, masculinity, etc. While there were a lot of good points to walk away with, some people found other aspects problematic as well. Therefore, it created space to have a conversation with different ideas and opinions about this topic. It also emphasized that we need to recognize the humanity in each other and channel that compassion into our daily actions.

Here you can find another interesting article about the empathy gap:

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