“My philosophy is: It’s none of my business what people say of me, and think of me. I am what I am, and I do what I do. I expect nothing, and accept everything. And it makes life so much easier.”—Anthony Hopkins (via sorakeem)
The life of a Victim's Advocate; Consent is Sexy - Violence is Not
Consent is Sexy; that was the main catchphrase of the sexual health group I participated in in college. We were a ragtag team of health promotion, lgbt and women studies, african diaspora, anthropology and sociology students at the time who chose to become peer sexual health educators for our campus community. Our mission was to close the gap of knowledge about sti transmission and prevention techniques - not to spread information about how to attain higher levels of sexual pleasure - since, after all, one of these things is universal and the other is wholly subjective. We were lead by a bubbly, informative, attractive twenty something out bisexual female staff member who kept us on point and having fun throughout meetings and tabling events all year round.
I vaguely remember an adjunct but considerably slimmer special interest student group lead by a less dynamic staff member aimed at preventing sexual violence. Some of this is explicable by his less appealing personality and appearance I’m sure but most of the reason the sexual violence prevention group paled next to ours is probably the stigma of sexual violence.
Who wants to talk about THAT, anyways?
The truth is that the core of our campaign and his was essentially the same concept (hence our partnership) - the side of the looking glass was the only difference.
Consent is Sexy.
Rape, Incest, Sexual Abuse, Domestic Violence and other issues related to the robbing of an individual of their voice, power and consent are so unsexy, unfunny and unappealing - we don’t even enjoy discussing these issues for the sake of public awareness.
See evidence in the lack of people advocating against rape. It’s not that there weren’t students on that campus including ourselves that felt deeply about these issues, it’s just a hard thing to get people to face must less discuss these topics in an open forum.
Now that I’m a sexually active adult working in Domestic Violence I see both sides in a different light. I see from the kinky perspective how play rape, physical punishment and power exchange can be a turn on WHEN CONSENSUAL. I also see how actual rape, physical punishment and power exchange are the most nonconsensual and horrific things that will happen to many people in their entire lives. And I see how culture, sexuality, and silence have blurred the lines so badly that the expression CONSENT IS SEXY is hyper simplistic in it’s utterance…or even completely nonsensical in the context of lifelong abuse.
I wondered myself at one point before college; “What really constitutes consent?” When I was raped because he kept pressuring me so I said yes because I thought it would be unsafe to keep saying no. Was that consent? And who do you even ask questions like that? I now know that I was raped and that pressure does not equal consent and the people you ask include public health, rape crisis centers, support groups or even domestic violence agencies like mine.
No wonder a culture of silence accompanies a culture of violence and non consensual sex acts. If not embarrassment, minimization, self blame and enforced silence by the offender then systems phobia - inherent in the participation in a society itself which institutes corporal punishment, fails to rehabilitate sex offenders and devalues the voice of survivors - may deter one from seeking help. OR even the prohibitive complexity of navigating the institutions themselves which might theoretically assist you. Not to mention money, time, and other resources emotional or physical you may need to carry you through and out of a crisis. Last but not least - lack of knowledge of your options may prevent you from getting help. I could have used a rape kit, a pregnancy test, an sti screen, some counselling but I never got those things. I never knew they were there. I didn’t even know if I was “really” raped with and all this BS in the media about “legitimate rape” - can you really blame me?
Once again, I see it now from both sides. As a worker at a non profit we try to close this information gap; but with small work forces and meager funding the public awareness of our mere existence itself is so sparing as to prevent the vast majority of sufferers of violence - sexual and otherwise - from ever seeking help from us. The fact that we are even an OPTION is not well known. And like the LGBT Resource Center on campus where I spent most of my non matriculating collegiate hours - our existence is even marred by our own efforts to ensure the safety of those that would take advantage of our services. Since, after all - in both instances - over publicity of our services and existence may result in harassment of those benefiting most from them. No one merely comes to my office or even support groups so that our other program participants are safe. Everyone is screened.
I guess there’s no real punchline to anything I just said; since after all, my usually notorious sense of humor is fairly useless in any discussion of such an unfunny issue. But I still reflect back on the idea “Consent Is Sexy” in all of it’s myriad meanings. I think about how speaking up for yourself and saying what you want is sexy. I think about how sexy it is to know yourself well enough to say no, I don’t want that. I think about how clear, verbal self expression is powerful and meaningful and real. I think about how power is sexy to a lot of people, and how knowledge is power. And I think about all the ways people’s voices, bodies, consent, power, knowledge and meaning have been repeatedly stolen from them by lack of care, lack of awareness, by oppressors, by ignorance, by abusers, and by all of those dark, seedy incidences we really would rather not talk about.
And more and more…knowing what I know now working daily with survivors of abuse who battle society and culture itself to navigate their way out of abuse, I wonder. I wonder when you shy away from discussing these abuses; Who stole your voice? Who oppressed you? Who made the word “consent” blurry for you? Who or what made you afraid to speak? To ask? To question? To say “no,”? “No. This is not acceptable,”?
And when, for goodness sake - are you going to start talking again? Because your voice is damn sexy. And your voice is the vehicle of your consent. Don’t let culture march on without yours.
“After they had explored all the suns in the universe, and all the planets of all the suns, they realized that there was no other life in the universe, and that they were all alone. And they were very happy, because then they knew it was up to them to become all the things they had imagined they would find.”—Lanford Wilson; Fifth of July
“The reason why it’s feminism and not “equalism” is because to achieve equality we need to make femininity a GOOD thing instead of an insult. Like how gay rights isn’t called “human rights” - the latter is what it’s ultimately trying to achieve, but can only be done so by doing the former.”—i’m tired of hearing the “Equalism” argument (via be-a-riot-grrrl)
There are currently 628 Hobby Lobby stores in 47 states and we never, ever, ever have to shop there again. With this list, you won’t even miss it, I promise.
Honestly, I shop at the local art supply store or if absolutely necessary Michael’s - if they don’t have it and don’t offer to order it. BUT this feels so ironic because I had to buy pastel pencils just a few days before this controversy blew up and I intentionally chose not to shop at Hobby Lobby but go out of my way to Michael’s because Hobby Lobby is religiously affiliated and I see that as being a bad, and overly political way to run a business. Besides, I’m Taoist and I feel marginalized by this christian corporation phenomenon. The issue they face for now is the fact that they are not church owned or affiliated, they have simply affected a “christian” public image - influencing non christian consumers to consider shopping elsewhere and angling to get the same benefits of a nonprofit, religious organization while pulling in big bucks. Their seemingly doomed attempt to deny ‘certain’ forms of birth control to employees under the increasingly complicated Obamacare program simply feels like a lack of separation between church, state and corporation. Convoluted? Yes. Basically, they be triflin. Shop elsewhere. Here’s how!
a. i’m experimenting with pastel pencils and a marilyn monroe coloring book - reimagining her haircolor and skintone as I go and discovering that while she’s still attractive with my pinkish skin and dishwater blonde hair - even this exercise reveals the horrendously myopic definition of american beauty.
b. perhaps writers block and creative lulls are the universe’s way of giving us an opportunity to receive rather than give, as artists. Like the comfortable silences of a therapy session, we must occasionally let that which we are working for enough space to breathe, to let us know what it wants rather than blindly pursuing what we think they (the universe) or we should want. LISTEN
“The first step to loving yourself
begins with the words,
You deserve to occupy space.
You deserve to stand up for yourself
and claim your right to happiness.
You deserve to be here,
just as much as
anyone else.”—Tina Tran (via depressionresource)