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Activism Works!

Target removed stalking card from Valentine’s Day selections.

 

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/tell-target-to-stop-selling-stalker-valentines-card/

From Care2:

It’s Valentine’s Day next Tuesday but Target has a card that simply needs to be taken off the shelves. The card says, in big white letters on a red background,

“Stalker is a harsh word.”

Open the car and inside you’ll find, in red letters on a white background:

“I prefer valentine.”

The message this card sends is sinister and ugly, and all the more so when you consider 3.4 million people over the age of 18 are stalked each year in the US and that 3 in 4 stalking victims are stalked by an acquaintance.

 

 

Dear Corporal

*Trigger Warning: Contains explicit detail about a violation.

 

To the Corporal in Atlanta:

I liked it when you

touched me

kissed me

spanked me

bit me

is that wrong?

 

You liked my nose ring and tattoos. Couldn’t control yourself.

But you can’t have me, army boy. I know this.

Everything was amplified —

bright and dull like

dunking myself in a bath and peeking through a rotating kaleidoscope

 

i’m not having sex with you                      fuck me

no                                                                  fuck me

no                                                                  don’t you want me?

no                                                                  i want to be in you

i can’t

no no no

 

Tugging and pulling and rustling and breathing.

you bit too hard

spanked too hard

thought too loud and listened                                                 not at all

I can’t remember your face but I remember big hands.

 

Dear Corporal,

I wanted to use you. But I didn’t want to be used.

You are not a man because you dominateviolatedisrespectaggress

because you choose to read     NO    as     YES

And I hate you. For all the Concessions

Shame

Blame

Fear

 

For all of us

I hate you.

 

Dear Corporal,

I want you to go fuck yourself. [At least then you could be sure that

YES MEANS YES]

But, really, I want to remember your face so I could tell you

 

I forgive you.

 

Humor provides us with the opportunity to make social commentary, to connect with others, and to laugh when life sometimes feels too damn serious. But when does humor cross the line from breaking boundaries to reinforcing oppressive ideology? Is the in-group “allowed” to make offensive jokes? Why do and should we accept these jokes at all?

Lately, these questions seem particularly relevant to popular humor about rape and sexual assault. In the New York Times article, “Female Comedians, Breaking the Taste-Taboo Ceiling,” Jason Zinoman writes about famous female comedians, who have traditionally lagged behind male comedians, and often been considered “too aggressive.” Today, lady comedians such as Sarah Silverman, have breached this barrier with rape humor. Many of the audience members unwittingly and self-consciously laugh at these crude jokes, aware that the comedians’ message is troubling. Still, it seems that these lines, when delivered by women, make a killing.

Zinoman’s article leads me to ask a few questions. What does the actual content of their humor suggest? Does it simply push limits, or defy them? Why is this the niche that makes female comedians successful? A few themes run through the wisecracks themselves. Zinoman cites Silverman saying,  “I was raped by a doctor, which is so bittersweet for a Jewish girl.” While Phoebe Robinson, another young female comedian, teases, “When I watch a movie where there’s a really good-looking rapist, I think about the girl: Why are you complaining?” Silverman and Robinson both reinforce two of the main misconceptions about sexual violence: Myth #1: Rape is sexual, not violent. Sexual violence in all forms is violence. Myth #2: Women/victims of rape want it. In court rooms, relationships, families, and police precincts, people ask victims, why were you wearing that? Why were you drinking? Why were you alone? Such questions place the blame on the survivor, and perpetuate the myth that we provoke rape. Sexual violence is not the survivor’s fault.

However, comedians do more than simply propagate myths. In one performance, Silverman proclaimed that she needed more rape jokes, clearly recognizing their role in her success. “Who’s going to complain about rape jokes? Rape victims?” she asked. “They barely even report rape.” It is true that rape and other forms of sexual violence remain vastly underreported. What Silverman fails to mention are the causes for underreporting. Many survivors live unaware of the resources that are available to them. They may fear telling the police or going through a criminal proceeding, perhaps for their safety, or because they may not be able to remember every detail due to their trauma and fear being undermined. Often, the authorities respond with questions like the ones above, blaming the victim for her assault. Let’s look at the cause for SlutWalks as an obvious example of such victim-blaming. When asked how to promote women’s safety, a Toronto police officer said “Women should avoid dressing like sluts.” Most importantly, Silverman implies that victims of sexual violence are powerless and voiceless, another dangerous myth.

These are the jokes and ideas that make female comedians successful, that prevent women from being considered “too aggressive.” Why? While the argument exists that this humor pushes the envelope and frees women from PC rhetoric, these jokes fully support a victim-blaming understanding of sexual assault. Comedians such as Silverman and Robinson do not challenge men. Instead, they reinforce the oppression of rape survivors, who are primarily women, and basically function as minions of patriarchy. Why does the audience laugh, albeit insecurely? Simply put, we live in a rape culture.  Sexual violence, along with myths and misconceptions about sexual violence permeate our lives. To many who have not removed the veil of rape culture, rape is funny. Perhaps some individuals’ sheepishness comes from an inner knowledge of the unfortunate reality of violence.

If this is the only way for female comedians to achieve success, what do we do about it? They could change their material, and find a different, still edgy approach. But what about the viewers? Would they still find popular female comedians funny without rape humor?  Ideally, our whole society would reject the misconceptions that these jokes breed. We could still use comedy as a release, and as social commentary, but as productive criticism, rather than a mechanism to reinforce oppression.

People might tell me, and other “sensitive feminists” to lighten up. Take a joke. But when the joke, no matter who delivers it, minimizes the violence that affects someone every 2 minutes in the United States, I’m not laughing.

 

 

Hope to see you there!  Remember to RSVP to help us ensure we have refreshments for everyone!

Welcome to WEconSent

Welcome to WEconSent! – a safe space for Wesleyan students to blog about issues of sexual violence and consent. WEconSent encourages conversations surrounding the balance of power in relationships, as well as discussions about what leads to positive, healthy relationships. We understand and acknowledge that all sexual violence is inherently rooted in oppression and connected to other societal injustices.

Sexual violence is an umbrella term that encompasses a continuum of behaviors including sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape, relationship violence and stalking.  Sexual assault exists on a spectrum of any unwanted sexual activity that is forced on one person by another, which may or may not involve penetration. Sexual assault includes a wide range of behaviors including rape, unwanted sexual contact (touching, grabbing or fondling) and incest. Sexual assault is violence, although it may not always involve a weapon, overt threat or physical force. Sexual activity that occurs when an individual is incapacitated, due to alcohol or drug intoxication is considered sexual assault and is illegal under Connecticut law.  Not only is sexual assault illegal, but it also violates Wesleyan community standards, which do not accept abuse on any level.

Sexual violence is not limited to sexual assault, but also includes relationship violence and stalking. Relationship violence can include emotional, psychological, verbal, physical and sexual abuse, and can occur in heterosexual or same-sex relationships. Stalking is a pattern of behavior that is designed to intimidate or control another person. It may include a number of tactics including excessive, unwanted texting, calling or emailing, sending unwanted gifts or showing up where a person is to monitor their behavior or to be near them. Stalking may precede sexual assault and is often a component of abusive relationships.

WEconSent is yours  — an anti-oppression, anti-victim blaming space to write, to create, to question and to connect with other Wes students about sexual violence and consent. Sexual violence is never the victim’s fault or the victim’s responsibility. No action justifies sexual abuse, and WEconSent does not allow victim-blaming language or ideology. At Wes, we value safety, communication, and care for our fellows, recognizing that sexual violence affects our entire community. We embrace our responsibility as bystanders to intervene in threatening situations, from identifying a sexist comment to checking in with friends at social events. If you are a survivor, know that you are not alone, and support exists for you. You will get through this.

With an enthusiastic yes… Ready, set, blog!

 

Discussions about sexual violence can evoke strong emotional and physical reactions in people especially those who have experienced trauma.  WEconSent hopes to serve as a safe haven for survivors while also providing learning and promoting dialogue among the Wes community.   We rely very heavily upon you to ensure that we can uphold this goal. To ensure the safety of the space, we request that community members abide by the following guidelines:

  • WEconSent is a victim blaming free zone. Posts that blame survivors of sexual violence for their victimization will not be tolerated.
  • Racist, sexist, ageist, transphobic, sizeist, ableist and homophobic commentary will not be posted.
  • Slut-shaming
  • Plain malice (i.e. – comments that don’t contribute to the dialogue) and personal attacks will not be tolerated.
  • Use trigger warnings. Trigger warnings are used to warn readers that the content of the post  includes descriptions that may cause emotional and/or physical reactions to people who have experienced trauma  (and even those who have not).  For example, all survivor stories will include trigger warnings so that readers can decide whether they wish to read the story.
  • Derailing threads. You’ve seen it happen; there is a productive discussion occurring and someone posts something completely unrelated in a poorly veiled attempt to create controversy. Don’t do that.

This is not an exhaustive list, but it  is our best attempt to keep this space safe for survivors as well as those seeking to learn more about sexual violence.  Additions to the list are encouraged and welcomed.

While we can’t predict what WEconSent will become, we encourage:

  • Poetry
  • Short Stories
  • Lyrics
  • Encouraging Words
  • Survivor Stories (that omit identifying information such as names, locations and organizations)
  • Commentary on Sexual Violence
  • Artwork (in jpg or pdf format)
  • Relevant news articles
  • Activism
  • Event Announcements (related to sexual violence prevention, healthy relationships, etc)
  • Bystander Intervention Success Stories
  • Self-Care Tips
  • YOUR THOUGHTS & IDEAS!

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