From silence to action

Feminist Thought, Sexual Violence
One of the insidious things about rape culture is silence. Survivors of sexual assault remain silent, fearing retribution, shunning or disbelief. Community members remain silent unsure of how to respond. Is she lying? Is {insert celebrity or well-liked neighbor here} the type of person who would do something like that? The perpetrator is often silent. Sometimes because he scarcely believes he is guilty, or perhaps to keep a low profile in preparation for the next victim. But just as there is silence, there is often sound. We hear the voices of perpetrators, maintaining innocence in some cases; claiming she deserved it in others. Voices of community members who support the offender and/or berate the survivor. Voices of advocates who offer comfort, righteous indignation and activism for survivors. And sometimes we hear the voices…
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Love, violence and transformations: A recap.

30 Day Blog Challenge
March was a great month of endings, beginnings, and transformations in general. I updated this space every day while in the midst of a whirlwind. The high energy and nonstop pace is in full swing for another couple of days, but I wanted to take a breath to share the top posts from last month. So I just moved. And I don't know about you, but for me moving is a special process full of resistance, excitement, and everything in between. I was slow to get started, but eventually, I did start packing. I've only spent one night in my new place, so no, I'm not settled yet. I'm always fascinated by narratives and the power of story, and maybe some of you are too? This blog about knowing your family's narrative,…
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What do you want? #rapeculture #vaw

30 Day Blog Challenge, Personal Narrative, Sexual Violence
People who have witnessed the recent steps on my journey have sent me good wishes and hopes for the outcome I want. Truth be told, the healing, the outcome I wanted for myself, happened long ago. But I've started to talk publicly about it. And I recently told my ex my thoughts about our past. This has inspired the following question from many corners: What do you want? I want to agitate. I want to make people feel uncomfortable. I want to counter rape culture. I want people to stop blaming victims. I want to add my voice to the chorus of survivors. I want partners to question their entitlement over another's body. I want people to talk. Especially men to their friends and brothers. To their sons and lovers. Rape…
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Yes, yes, yes. | #vaw #fem2

30 Day Blog Challenge, Sexual Violence
In rape culture, "no" is not always honored as "no." No was an important aspect of my experience of sexual violence, because I had initially given consent. I said yes. The problem came when I changed my mind, and my "yes" became a "no." I was alert, angry, and unambiguously vocal in my "no." Sometimes the situation isn't as clear. One lesson from #Steubenville? Yes, boys and men need to be taught how to prevent rape. But some also need to be taught what rape even is. — Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) March 17, 2013 In Steubenville, OH, two high school football stars were convicted of raping a teenage girl too drunk to give consent. She was too drunk to say yes or no. By taking advantage of her inability to respond, the…
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No means no* #NaBloPoMo #vaw #fem2

30 Day Blog Challenge, Sexual Violence
At times boundaries are rendered ambiguous, when in actuality, they're sharply drawn. In rape culture, this means no is sometimes given an asterisk: No means no* when your partner says it three times. Or no means no* when your partner hits you in protest. No means no* when (fill in the blank). No means no. It means no when it's a stranger. It means no when it's an acquaintance. It means no when it's a family member. If it's your spouse, significant other or otherwise longterm partner, it still means no. Rape culture perpetuates the myth that perpetrators of sexual assault are always scary men with ski-masks and guns, hiding in the bushes for the easiest target. Or maybe they're burglars who break in to steal your electronics and get…
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Stories of Sexual Violence #NaBloPoMo #vaw #fem2

30 Day Blog Challenge, Personal Narrative, Sexual Violence
I am a survivor of sexual violence. I've never stated it publicly, but I've hinted about it here and there. I'm tired of hinting. It's risky, claiming survivor status out loud. It's old wounds ripped open and sprinkled with salt. Once-dried tears, bubbling up, spilling over. Heart racing. Doubts. Anger. It's triggering. Digging into that history, thinking about it, remembering it, and sharing it is triggering. One could reasonably wonder why do it? I'll tell you why: to counter rape culture. Telling my story gives other survivors permission to tell theirs. It opens a channel for dialogue, healing and transformation. It creates a space for would-be perpetrators to see the effect of sexual violence and potentially make more loving choices. It adds to the public discourse about sexual violence, masculinity…
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Nuance and Gray Areas

Politics, News & Notable, Sexual Violence
I appreciate this piece from Linda on The Feminist Wire. Especially this section where she rejects the rape/not rape binary to make room for complexity: Dear President Obama, I appreciate your statement that rape is rape. I really do. Your intent, I am sure, is to reject the idea that there might be legitimate rapes and illegitimate rapes. But, alas, there are complexities to rape, just as there are complexities to life. There are (sometimes) gradations, ambiguities, complications, and varied amounts and forms of culpability. My boyfriend was not a monster. I know what monsters are, having unfortunately been trapped and caught by one when I was nine. That sort of thing changes your sense of humanity, the world, your future, your life. But at 16, I was not attracted…
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It Counts (TW Sexual Violence) | #30in30 #WriteLikeCrazy

30 Day Blog Challenge, Politics, News & Notable, Sexual Violence
So this happened: [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUiI1IvlrAw[/embed] And aside from the fact the man sounds ignorant – he wants to enact laws about pregnancy when he doesn’t know how it works – he qualifies rape. If there is legitimate rape, it must follow there’s such a thing as illegitimate rape. And one wonders what that might be, exactly? Akin has issued an apology video, trying to make amends for his word choice, yet one wonders if he still believes that some rapes are real, while others, are somehow fake? If only he could express the concept more artfully? Jezebel documents and simultaneously mocks this dangerous discourse here. Tanehisi unpacks the power and privilege underlying the claims here. Rape is rape. Full stop. It becomes a stranger invading. It becomes a thief stealing. That…
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Forever Changed | #30in30 #WriteLikeCrazy.

30 Day Blog Challenge, Personal Narrative, Sexual Violence
What is one thing that left you forever changed? I stumbled across this question while sitting, browsing and mulling – the trio known collectively as my process. Even when I have an idea in mind (I did) I often have to go through this period of germination. I embraced it in grad school, but I kinda want things to move a little faster. But this is me stalling. As soon as I read that question, an answer came to mind. I was inspired to respond, completely disregarding my initial plans to write about student ingenuity and punishment. Though as I began to type, I wondered how much I should or would share. I’m still deciding. I’ll ease into it and see what comes out. I experienced the first love of…
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Today in Women…

Feminist Thought, Politics, News & Notable
Today, two articles about women captured my attention for a good portion of the day. I share them here with little commentary, as in both cases, the content speaks for itself. The first piece is Ashley Judd's blistering critique of patriarchy and women's and men's complicity in upholding it. In it, she thoughtfully problematizes the media's portrayal of women. It is fierce and awesome and bookmarked in my Diigo account  for future reference. The Conversation about women’s bodies exists largely outside of us, while it is also directed at (and marketed to) us, and used to define and control us. The Conversation about women happens everywhere, publicly and privately. We are described and detailed, our faces and bodies analyzed and picked apart, our worth ascertained and ascribed based on the…
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