The Dawn Chorus

Fresh Australian Feminism

Archive for August, 2009

Forget The “Sex Predator”, How ‘Bout His Wife, Eh?

Posted by Clem Bastow on August 28, 2009

A brief MediaWatch-ish post for you this morning. I was reading “the papers” online and when I reached the bottom of the page, noticed Fairfax’s ‘Top Stories’ lists for their various interstate publications. This headline was holding the #1 spot in the BrisbaneTimes.com.au “charts”:

Picture 1

Naturally, I clicked on the story, detailing the sentencing of Luke James Colless, who pleaded guilty to “five counts of rape, five counts of assault with intent to commit rape, six counts of sexual assault and two counts of assault occasioning bodily harm, over the attacks on 11 women”. Well, you might not assume as much given the story’s headline, but the “wife” in question rated a mention that lasted for less than a sentence; she wasn’t even noted by name. Here’s the full extent of the rapists’ wife’s appearance in the article:

Colless’ barrister Tony Kimmins said despite his offending, his client was supported by his wife and family.

And that’s it. In other words, out of the 556 words in the article, approximately 17 made any reference whatsoever to his wife.

What gives, brisbanetimes.com.au? Exactly which champion is coming up with your headlines? This may seem like subeditorial semantics, but there’s something particularly insidious about this headline that ignores the full horror of Luke James Colless’ crimes and, instead, makes some sort of Tammy Wynnette-esque comment on his wife standing by her man.

I hope I’m not the only one who thinks a simple “Sex predator faces life in jail” would have sufficed.

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Posted in law, Media Watch, Sex Crimes, sexual assault, violence against women | Tagged: , , , , | 9 Comments »

Crikey Wants To “Pull Chicks”

Posted by Mel Campbell on August 20, 2009

Online media outlet Crikey.com.au has been doing some audience research and is dismayed to realise that subscribers to its daily email service are 70 per cent male. Deputy editor Sophie Black points out today that this is despite a 50/50 gender balance in its editorial staff. Meanwhile, editor Jonathan Green says (tongue in cheek, I’d assume) that even the male staffers have “considered carefully the advances of feminism over the last few decades and placed ourselves within that context, while still pulling chicks.”

Initial fact-finding missions via Twitter uncovered a mix of potential reasons, which seemed to fall into recurring themes:

  • Women are too busy fulfilling myriad domestic responsibilities, on top of their work commitments and social lives, to sit around reading about Australian politics, media and business;
  • Women are not interested in the minutiae of party politics and the Canberra press gallery
  • While Crikey’s staff may have an even gender balance, freelance contributors are largely male
  • The editorial tone is blokey and macho, from the topics chosen to the way headlines are phrased
  • The industries covered in Crikey tend to be male-dominated
  • Women aren’t prepared to pay money for Crikey subscriptions, preferring to get Crikey’s emails forwarded from others, or getting their comment and debate for free on the web

I contribute occasionally to Crikey (and some of my writing at The Enthusiast gets picked up by their new aggregator-style website), and I feel a little embarrassed that my articles about stuff like fashion, media and advertising tend to look lightweight compared to the ins and outs of the Liberal leadership. Even though these are my professional interests, I feel worried that this kind of writing is considered “female-friendly” because, to be frank, many of my Crikey stories are deeply, gleefully silly. Although it’s come to seem that way, silliness is not “women’s interest”.

Crikey is considering starting a political blog written by women, possibly similar to Double X. But is the answer to its gender woes simply to increase its coverage of  “women’s issues” – and to ghettoise these on its website – when the original problem was an imbalance among its email subscribers? Perhaps a more pertinent issue might be Crikey’s definition of ‘politics’ – and its subscriber model.

In general I find Crikey’s current policy-wonk focus quite dry and boring. For instance, it does not intrigue me in the slightest that “ASIC, normally the country’s most timid regulator, is calling for bans on commissions and a slew of tighter regulatory requirements to end conflicted advice and impose greater responsibilities on financial planners.” (from Bernard Keane’s story in today’s email, Canning advisor’s commissions would be super start to reform.)

Perhaps women are more interested in social, cultural and sexual politics – that is, real-world politics. These are not just issues directly involving women, such as sex crimes, workplace and media sexism, consumer culture and work/life balance. Instead I’d suggest that women also respond passionately and empathetically to human rights and ethical issues of all sorts, from the environment to policing tactics, health funding to drugs in sport. These are not abstract policy debates but rather humanist debates.

Crikey’s email subscription model is also a linear method of content delivery – it’s sent out to subscribers, who can write back with comments, which are then sent out in the next issue. However, Sophie Black cites studies showing that women are heavy users of blogs and social media technologies. These are not linear but use metaphors of networks and communities. (In the past, Crikey subscribers have vehemently rejected the jocular name for the site’s community, “the Crikey Army”.)

In my experience as a woman (but, sadly, not “as an athlete, and a mum”), women like to share information by emailing their friends and joining in discussions at favoured online locations, whether these be Facebook, Twitter or The Dawn Chorus. Perhaps Crikey does have more female readers – but its 30 per cent of female subscribers are forwarding the emails to their friends. Perhaps online debate among women is happening in places that don’t have paywalls.

Why do you think women aren’t subscribing to Crikey? What kind of politics do you think women want to read about? And if you don’t read Crikey, where are you heading for your political reading?

Posted in Media Watch, Tech & Net | Tagged: , , , | 12 Comments »

Womens’ bodies are whale like

Posted by Cate on August 18, 2009

I was angered on Friday to receive a copy of PETA’s latest marketing campaign to turn meat eaters over to all things vegetarian…. petasavethewhales

Yes apparently womens’ bikinied bodies that don’t fit some lithe physique that’s unattainable to many are ‘whale’ like and contain ‘blubber.

Further, their press release states,

“Trying to hide your thunder thighs and balloon belly is no day at the beach,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA has a free ‘Vegetarian Starter Kit’ for people who want to lose pounds while eating as much as they like.

I was vegetarian myself for 10 years during which I certainly was not able to lose pounds eating whatever I  liked. And haven’t PETA made women feel inadequate enough about their bodies with their advertisements of naked vegetarian female celebrities, usually draped with fruit or baby animals?

PETA also fail to consider the reality that many women are curvy or ‘overweight’ despite a vegetarian diet? You can eat a lot of vegan Oreos or ice cream in one sitting. They also seem keen to simply ‘guilt’ women into restricting what they eat, for weight loss instead of ethical reasons. Certainly one step towards an eating disorder for those with any propensities for such things. It reminds me of when I was at school and the participants in the World Vision 40 Hour Famine were overwhelming young girls.

Posted in body image, Politics, Women's Health | Tagged: | 20 Comments »

On banning the burqa

Posted by Nic Heath on August 18, 2009

As has been widely reported in the last few months, French President Nicholas Sarkozy has the burqa in his sights. In June he announced to his compatriots that France would not accept a garment that made prisoners of the women who wear it. The latest controversy has seen a woman banned from wearing a burqini in a French public pool, ostensibly on hygiene grounds.

Sarkozy is the latest in a long line of politicians who have attacked aspects of Islamic dress in the name of women and their rights. These moonlighting feminists, by headlining their stance with a women’s lib tag, I think mask the true scope of their agendas – which in Sarkozy’s case could be to protect a certain aspect of a country’s cultural identity, or to marginalize another, or to assert authority.

As much as I dislike the burqa myself, vilifying the aesthetics of fundamentalist Islam – rather than say, focusing on the actions and beliefs of those who oppress women in the name of Islam – is a misalignment of energy and policy. Symi Rom-Rymer says it well in the Christian Science Monitor:

There are, no doubt, some women who are forced to wear this all-encompassing garment by their families, just as there are non-Muslim French women who are mistreated by their families in other ways. But to view the garment solely as a prison and as a symbol of male oppression, as Sarkozy does, oversimplifies a complex issue and may end up hurting the very women he’s trying to help.

If Sarkozy is truly concerned about the rights and dignity of these women, he ought to use high-profile speeches to discuss their needs, their concerns, and to focus on what they can contribute to and gain from French society, rather than on what they wear while doing it.

What will happen to women not permitted to wear the burqa in French public life (of whom there are reportedly 400 in France)? Will they happily cast it off and bare their exposed faces to shopkeepers and bus drivers? Will they enroll in university or vocational courses? Will they leave abusive husbands? Will it solve all their problems?

I have no definitive answers of course but I imagine that the result could be otherwise – could lead to further marginalization, could leave women further ostracized and isolated from the general community. As difficult as it is, if one is concerned about the rights of women wearing the burqa, it would be more useful to take a positive stance through giving those women support and fostering opportunities for their self-determination.

The wider Australian community also has a strained relationship with Islamic dress. The burqa perfectly manifests the other when held against Australia’s traditional cultural identity – laidback laconic larrikins living it up on the beach etc. The burqa threatens many people’s sense of self and of belonging. As Irfan Yusuf noted in July in The Age, Muslim women wearing the burqa provide the media a ‘potent symbol of Islam in the West’, one that is regularly exploited by news outlets.

When one Sydney Muslim man called for polygamy to be legalised, the Herald Sun website carried a photo of two burqa-clad women crossing the street. The website of its Sydney equivalent regularly carries photos of burqa-clad women in any story even mildly related to Muslims.

Julie Posetti, speaking at a forum at the ANU in July (which you can watch at ABC Fora), sums up my position pretty well. She argues that banning the burqa would be an oppressive move, and that much of the language used in calls against the burqa recalls cultural imperialism. She rightly says that the state has no place in a woman’s wardrobe. Imagine the government legislating against bikinis, or Catholic nun’s habits – it becomes an ethical minefield. Similarly murky of course is the boundary between cultural sensitivity, or regard for an individual’s rights, and cultural relativism.

Banning the burqa looks more like another symptom of France’s troubled relationship with ethnic minorities than a step forward for feminism and women’s rights. Policies of social inclusion and education would surely be more beneficial than those of prohibition and exclusion.

Posted in Faith and Religion, Fashion, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Woman Working In Objectifying Job Charged With Being Immodest

Posted by Mel Campbell on August 14, 2009

Geez, you really can’t win, can you? You’re working as a “skimpy barmaid”, a job that requires you to wear a cleavage-revealing bodysuit and French knickers. You go up to take a customer’s order, and then he turns out to be an undercover cop arresting you for “being immodestly dressed on licensed premises”.

This is the absurd predicament facing Megan Brooks, who appeared in Fremantle Magistrates Court today after an incident that occurred at her workplace, the Market City Tavern in Canning Vale, WA, last November. Even the presiding magistrate seemed to think it was a rubbish charge, advising that he was probably going to dismiss the case.

“I just felt like I was doing my job and I don’t think that I was immodestly dressed,” Megan said outside the court. “There’s more important things out there (for police) than sort of sneaking around undercover hoping to catch skimpy barmaids wearing not very much clothing.”

I’m not sure what is more startlingly offensive:

  • the fact that it’s possible to face legal charges (and the associated penalties) arising from the moral judgments of an individual law enforcement officer. I wonder if this aspect of the Liquor Licensing Act was originally drafted to prevent prostitutes from looking for business in bars, pubs and clubs;
  • the fact that a woman is facing these charges over clothing that she is required to wear at work;
  • the fact that her body was nonchalantly discussed publicly in court as if it didn’t belong to a thinking, feeling person.

It’s shameful that when even the magistrate agreed that Megan Brooks probably hadn’t done anything wrong and did not have a case to answer, she was still subjected to the this kind of treatment:

The court was told that the accused was wearing black lace French knickers with a buttock exposed, but [her defence lawyer] Mr Dobson wanted to know which buttock was exposed as well as the extent of the exposure. It was also stated that Ms Brooks’ nipples were erect, although Mr Dobson questioned whether that too was criminal conduct.

Luckily, the incident has not put Megan off working in what WA Today calls “the barmaid industry”. (I wonder if this is a separate industry to “the hospitality industry” that I’d always presumed bar staff work in.)

So far I’ve left aside the issue of whether it’s right or wrong to offer people employment on the basis that they wear skimpy or demeaning clothing. On one hand, I don’t want to be judgmental about the existence of “skimpy barmaid” jobs, because people aren’t obliged to work in a job whose requirements they find repugnant. You wouldn’t take a job as a stripper, for instance, if you weren’t prepared to take your clothes off.

But more realistically, many of the uniforms that rob people of their dignity are in low-paying service-industry jobs typically filled by people who don’t have the luxury of many choices. Take Nando’s, for instance, which requires its mostly young staff to wear sexualised slogan T-shirts that imply they agree with and personify sentiments such as: “I make the chicks hot”, “Chicks rule”, “Take me home, I’m basted” or “I’ve done your chick”.

It’s frustratingly hypocritical that our culture so persistently seeks to turn women into sexual objects, and then seeks to punish a woman for acceding to that objectification.

Posted in law | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

Travails of beauty

Posted by Nic Heath on August 6, 2009

The beauty industry, and how much money women invest in it, has popped up on my radar a couple of times recently.

‘Because I’m Worth It’, in the July 25 Good Weekend, runs through the expenditure of four women on maintaining their appearance. The article’s author, Maggie Alderson, posits that in one school of thinking, 

‘…adequate personal care is – like doing your tax return, being punctual and saying thank you – an adult responsibility.’

 Furthermore,

 ‘…leg-hair is a complex grooming issue, requiring military-precision planning to be smooth on key dates…which is why I invested serious time and money having mine permanently lasered off.’

 And final advice:

‘Choose a significant person – an ex, a work nemesis, the other woman, or the one who got away – and be exactly as gorgeous as you would like to be if you happened to run into them by chance. Every day.’

I have two major concerns with this ‘belief system’. One – the expense. Multinationals’ profits depend on women feeling insecure about their appearance. Canna Campbell spends $17754 a year on beauty, Wendi Snyder $19016, Mary Shackman $11187 and Vina Chipperfield $19090.

The second is pain and/or discomfort. Canna Campbell is my age – 28 – and has been having Botox injections for 18 months. Vina Chipperfield, 39, says:

‘I loathe having Brazilian waxes, which I get every two months. I really have to psych myself up.’

 And then, ratcheting up the pain/discomfort scale, last week ABC2 screened The Ugly Truth abut Beauty, a documentary charting journalist Kate Spicer’s dalliance with cosmetic medicine. Spicer approaches her mission with equal measures of enthusiasm and cynicism – while like many women ‘not 100% happy with her appearance’, she is not the stock-standard candidate for cosmetic medicine. In an article published in The Australian she writes:

‘Previously, I had found cosmetic surgery curious, fascinating, not for me. Instinct told me it formed the deepest, darkest recesses of the misogynistic capitalist system that is the beauty industry.’

On ABC’s site:

This film follows Kate as she immerses herself in the wide range of bizarre, radical and invasive procedures now on offer to normal women willing to undergo a gruelling quest for exquisite, youthful looks. Just how far is Kate willing to go? And will it be worth it?

With a personal interest in improving her looks and a beauty industry cynic’s interest in exploring just how easy it is to be sucked into the world of cosmetic improvement, Kate wants to find out what’s really involved in our quest to look beautiful. “I’ve got two motivations here,” says Kate. “One is can I get to look better? Can I get to look hotter? But there is a more earnest desire – to try to be the guinea pig that illustrates just how ridiculously seductive that world is”.

After a few rounds of Botox, the final procedure on Kate’s face is performed with Fraxel laser technology. It makes for singularly disturbing vision. Metal plates are put over Kate’s eyeballs, while her voiceover tells us she was so medicated that this didn’t bother her, and the rest I couldn’t tell you because I couldn’t watch it. The immediate effects were bloody; she looked as though she’d been punched in the face or worse, a number of times.

Describing a photograph taken straight after the treatment, Spicer says:

‘It’s of a glassy-eyed woman, drugged up on Xanax and morphine, with eyeballs that appear to be weeping bloody tears, her skin red, oozing and bruised, and her eyelids glossy and raw like tuna tartare.’

It wasn’t Kate Spicer’s face though that was the most affecting consequence of the procedure. In the clinic, she’s laid low. She clearly feels terrible. She speaks of feeling depressed – the woman attending to her suggests it could be from the drug cocktail she’s ingested. And yet as the doco finishes, Kate suggests she likely hasn’t had her last Botox injection.

Writer Emily Maguire, delivering her speech ‘The Accidental Feminist’ for the Pamela Denoon lecture earlier in the year, says it pretty simply. It is that women are constantly being given the message that they are not good enough just as they are. A woman needs to cleanse, pluck, tone, wax, scrub, moisturise, bleach, alter, amend, enhance etc.

Kate Spicer certainly hasn’t glamourised cosmetic surgery, but she shows how hard it is for (some) women to resist the constant pressure to look a certain way – and to go to great lengths while trying. With so much money invested in the beauty industry – made clear by the lists of products and treatments upon which Good Weekend’s four featured women spend their money – I can’t see the pressure to look younger/better/different lessen anytime soon.

Posted in Fashion | Tagged: , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Fifteenth Down Under Feminists Carnival

Posted by caitlinate on August 6, 2009

DUFC15

The Fifteenth Down Under Feminists Carnival (July 2009) is now up at Hoyden About Town. I always forget to mention it here but you should all definitely go check it out – and have a look through some of the older Carnivals too!

Posted in Blog Watch | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Guest Post: Kyle & Jackie O & Rape Victims & The Public’s Reaction

Posted by Clem Bastow on August 4, 2009

This guest post is from Rachel Hills, a journalist and blogger who writes about gender, politics and culture.

A couple of months ago, when the Matthew Johns/Clare/gang rape/group sex scandal was all over the media, I wondered what circumstances would be required for the general public to give a rape victim the benefit of the doubt.

In Kyle and Jackie O, it seems, we have our answer. The Australian public has, quite rightly, responded with disgust to the breakfast radio duo’s on-air questioning of a 14-year-old girl about her sex life, a questioning which culminated with the revelation that she’d been raped when she was 12.

Like Johns before them, Kyle and Jackie O have been stood down from their roles (temporarily, at least). But unlike the Johns case, this time everyone is on the victim’s side.

Now, as some of the people I’ve spoken to this about have pointed out, these are quite different cases. In one we’re talking about a girl in her early teens, who was questioned about her sexual history on a high rating radio program by an unsympathetic mother who knew she’d been raped. In another, we’re talking about a woman in her twenties who spoke out about her experience at the hands of a popular football and television star in her late teens, seven years after the event (she also spoke out about it at the time – to both the media and the police – but no one listened and most people don’t know that).

Matthew Johns and his Cronullla teammates were accused of sexual assault; Kyle Sandilands and Jackie Henderson were accused of being insensitive, exploitative dickwards. Matthew Johns was quite – his support groups suggest very – well liked; Kyle Sandilands is pretty widely despised. We have audio evidence of Kyle and Jackie’s offence; for the Cronulla players, it’s essentially one person’s word against another’s.

But those factors aside, I think the public reaction to the two incidents reveals a lot about our treatment of rape survivors, and who is and is not permitted to wear the mantle. Most people are sympathetic to rape survivors in the abstract (or at least, I hope they are!), but the proportion of people who implicitly trust the victim seems to go way down whenever we begin to deal with specifics.

In these two cases, part of the discrepancy comes from who’s delivering the message. The girl on the Kyle and Jackie O show was a child, was presumably a virgin at the time, and was cajoled by her mother and a pair of media celebrities to talk about it on one of the most popular radio programs in the country. It’s almost impossible to shame her. Would we have seen the same response if she was five years older, if she wasn’t a virgin, if her rapist wasn’t an anonymous figure but someone she already knew.

Why is it that the only sexual assault victims we, as a public, trust are those who have been most obviously, black and white, wronged? The virgins, the children, the young women attacked by strangers while jogging at night.

Sydney Morning Herald writer Lisa Pryor touched on the “gray rape” issue in a recent column, responding to a South Australian judge’s comments that a man who “continued sexual activity with a woman after she passed out drunk” had committed only “technical rape”.

“I would put this offence at the lower end of the scale because the sex act began as a consensual one before the victim passed out and became incapable of consenting,” he said.

“To mark this man with the grave offence of rape for the rest of his days will stop him travelling to some countries and prevent him getting jobs.”

Lisa argued that “ghastly as it is for the victims”, some rapes were worse than others; and “[that] the public clamour for higher sentences for certain types of crimes – higher for gang rapes compared to other rapes, higher for murders of police officers compared to other murders – also suggests the public recognises the need for nuanced sentencing.”

I understand what she’s getting at, but it deeply disturbs me that, as a society, we seem to consider any rape bar the most brutal as “gray” or ambiguous. For woman to be “rapable” she has to be considered capable of inspiring lust (think the treatment of Diane Brimble by her attackers), and simultaneously lacking in desire herself. As soon even the possibility of desire enters the equation – if she was on a date, if he was famous, if she was drunk or wore a low-cut top or had engaged in casual sex before – we cast doubt upon her claims.

It’s great that the Australian public has so clearly communicated that Kyle and Jackie’s behaviour is unacceptable. But it’s a shame we can only muster that empathy for the most uncontroversial of victims.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

NON SURVIVOR SYNDROME

Posted by caitlinate on August 3, 2009

Some of you may be aware of the term “white woman syndrome”. Not to be confused with “missing white woman syndrome” (though there are similarities) WWS generally refers to situations where the distress and or guilt of a white person about [a specific act of] racism overshadows any focus, conversation or energy being directed towards discussion or action about racism (or in fact the experiences of the individual who has experienced the original act of racism). The result will often be energy being directed away from the real issue or event and instead towards comforting the white person who has become upset about it.

Well, I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently and I’ve come up with a new term: Non Survivor Syndrome. It doesn’t refer to exactly the same kinds of behaviour but I think the example of WWS is a fairly good start to explaining what I mean. (Also: I know that starting a critique of emotional appropriation by appropriating another term is problematic and I’m happy to hear critique of that in the comments.)

If you haven’t been raped, if you haven’t experienced sexual assault, then you do not know what it is like. There is a whole world of pain and unhappiness and grief and fear that you do not understand. It doesn’t matter if it happened to your best friend or your sister or your neighbour or your partner. It doesn’t matter if you’ve spent weeks or months or years working with and supporting survivors. It doesn’t matter if you’ve watched SVU. If it hasn’t happened to you, then you do not understand.

I’m not saying that survivors shouldn’t be supported. I’m not saying that non-survivors shouldn’t be allies to victims of sexual assault. I’m not saying that non-survivors shouldn’t stand in solidarity with those who have been assaulted, shouldn’t listen to what they want or need and try and follow through. I’m not saying that non-survivors shouldn’t try their damnedest to try and understand what a survivor is going through and be there for them. What I’m saying is that if it hasn’t happened to you then you don’t know.

I say this because I’m getting a little tired of non-survivors appropriating the emotions and reactions of survivors. I’m tired of non-survivors having emotional breakdowns just because they have to deal with someone who is a known perpetrator. I’m tired of hearing non-survivors compare their experiences of dealing with a perpetrator as somehow akin to those of the person who was assaulted. I’m tired of communities rallying to support non-survivors in these situations whilst people who have been raped and have been assaulted are left in the cold, without the same support, because – maybe – it’s not as safe for them to express in public how uncomfortable or distressed they are, or how difficult the situation is for them. I’m tired of a whole world where non-survivors voices and needs are put before those of survivors and heard more loudly with no one questioning this or pulling it apart. I’m not talking about perpetrators being heard and survivors being silenced, we all know that happens and frequently. I’m talking about people who claim to stand in solidarity with survivors and who claim to have an understanding of sexual assault talking over the top of those who actually know what it is like.

I know that those close to survivors – particularly if they were around when the assault happened – have their own world of rage and grief related to what happened. I know that you generally won’t want to be around the person who perpetrated an assault against someone you care about. That’s fine, that’s fair, that’s normal and being able to express that is important. But your reaction to the perpetrator, your reaction to being near them, your emotional reaction to their presence or even existence: it’s not the same. The way that person makes you feel is not the same as the way the survivor feels. The way that person affects your life – even negatively – is not the way it affects the survivor’s life. The way any random perpetrator makes you feel is not the same as the way a survivor feels when they are around one.

I recognise that labelling this behaviour as I have is fairly problematic in itself. Most women I know have been the victim of a sexual assault of some kind. To level the term ‘non-survivor’ at another person makes a claim to a whole world of information you may not be privy to. Everyone has the right to not tell every single person they know – or even anyone – about their experiences. No one should be forced to justify their actions or emotions with an explanation about something they don’t really want to talk about. I’m not criticising people who work as allies to survivors or stating that only people who have experienced sexual assault should talk about it or work to stop it.

I’m saying that unless you’ve experienced it you don’t know what it’s like. I’m saying that sometimes non-survivors need to shut up and let survivors lead and be heard. I’m saying that in any specific situation the person who has been assaulted is the person who should be most important – even if other people around them have had a similar experience. I’m saying that in general non-survivors need to start thinking about how much space and how many experiences they are claiming to be privy to. I’m saying to non-survivors that getting upset on someone else’s behalf or about a situation you have never experienced but ‘can only imagine’ is actually really silencing. Your pain and rage is not less meaningful or less real, but it is incomparable to that of someone who has been sexually assaulted.

Posted in sexual assault | Tagged: , , , , , , | 10 Comments »