I’ve heard way too many assinine comments and am ENRAGED!

19 04 2009

As most of you hopefully already know, April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and there’s been much happening on campus (the Clothesline Project was this week, PACT’s Green Light District party was last night, the Sexual Violence Community Forum and Take Back the Night are both next week) to raise awareness about sexual violence and bring it out in the open.  Over this past week especially, I have been confronted with and insulted by the ignorance about sexual violence and the pervasive rape myths that have colonized people’s minds.

I have heard ridiculously ignorant and insensitive comments uttered from the words of Tufts students that once again, remind me that I am very lucky and spoiled to be surrounded by like-minded people who are educated, aware of, and passionate about  issues around sexual violence.  I’m reminded again that there are lots of minds to be changed, even in a liberal school all about “active citizenship”.

Sexual violence continues to be something swept under the rug.  However it is something that touches the lives of many people.  1 out of 6 American women have been the victims of rape or attempted rape in their lifetime.  College women are four times more likely than the rest of the population to be sexually assaulted or raped.  1 in 33 men have been the victims of rape or attempted rape in their lifetime. (Statistics from RAINN).

Most people who are involved in sexual violence activism tend to be survivors themselves or have had a loved one who is a survivor.  Many other people fail to see it as an important and a necessary topic to engage in because it doesn’t personally affect them, or as one man told us “I’ve never been raped and I’m not a rapist”.  When sexual violence is such a personal issue that affects the lives of so many people, more people than we may think, I am insulted and upset by widespread ignorance about sexual violence and insensitive comments that people drop.

In an earlier infuriating conversation that I was involved in, a male student heard two student survivors talking about their experiences and made biting remarks about how this was just a “pussy party”, how the survivors needed to “stop complaining”, and asked “So why are you still here? Why didn’t you just transfer?”

You can’t tell by just looking at someone if s/he is a survivor of sexual assault, but if you are in the presence of survivors and you know it, you should at least have the courtesy and compassion to be mindful and respectful of this.  Saying that it’s a “pussy party” is blatantly rude and unacceptable.  Sexual violence is not just a women’s issue.  It affects women, men, children and communities.  Telling a survivor to “stop complaining” is also blatantly rude and unacceptable.

Furthermore, asking student survivors why they remained at Tufts instead of transferring is bullshit.  It’s not always easy to continue going to school in an environmnent that can remind you of your experience and retrigger you, and doesn’t support you as a survivor.  However, it’s also not that simple to just pick up your stuff and go transfer to another school.  Getting to know and readjusting to another environment especially after a traumatic experience can be very difficult.

The fact that he felt entitled to spew that insensitive bullshit and assume his limited knowledge as superior to the lived experience of two survivors right next to him demonstrates being blinded by privilege. Statistically speaking, more women than men are victims of sexual violence.  His male privilege made him feel right and secure in making those assinine comments.

I am enraged that as a survivor and a sexual violence activist, my conversations and my space are constantly invaded by ignorant, insensitive and offensive remarks by people who don’t care or just don’t get it.  If I disclose to you that I am a survivor and talk to you about some of the things I am working on re: sexual violence on campus, then you need to be respectful and appreciative of my honesty. The least you can do is to not verbalize what ever victim-blaming, misogynist bullshit is going through your head.

If you are going to engage in a conversation with me about sexual violence on this campus or in the larger community, the least you can do is be mindful of the fact that you may be in the presence of one or more survivors.  If you’re not already educated about sexual violence, the least you can do is to have an open mind and be willing to learn instead of contradicting what I say or privileging your thoughts over the information and knowledge that I have to offer and share with you.

If I am dedicating so much of my time and energy to activism around sexual violence and fighting to end rape culture, the least you can do is to recognize that sexual violence is a pervasive problem that affects all members of the community.  Just because it isn’t talked about much does not mean that it’s not an issue. It should not be my burden to illuminate this for you, especially if you are going to butt heads with me and contradict what I say.

If you are just going to waste my time and be an insensitive, ignorant, triggering asshole trying to hijack the conversation, then I don’t need to hear your bullshit.  I don’t need to waste my time talking to a tool who is just trying to fuck with me and give me a hard time.  At least have the patience and respect to hear me out and listen to and hopefully learn from what I have to say.


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7 responses

19 04 2009
feministfeera

GEEZ.

If sexual violence were a women’s problem, then instances of sexual violence would be negligible, since men are overwhelmingly perpetrators of sexual violence. If we have to assign the problem to one of the sexes, it’s a men’s problem that THEY need to fix. ARG.

This also relates to the minimalization and normalization of violence, where victims of violence (sexual violence, sexism, racism, homophobia, hate crimes, etc.) are expected to “suck it up,” “stop complaining,” and so on. As Shakesville makes clear, it’s not that we’re too sensitive; it’s that these kinds of people, the ones who sneer at survivors and make such ignorant and downright cruel comments, who are INsensitive. They have the problem.

19 04 2009
Lorraine E.

That is absolutely ridiculous; I can’t believe anyone would tell a survivor of sexual assault to “get over it”. I just… have nothing to say about that.

“Asinine” has one s, though.

21 04 2009
Jason

…Oh, stop complaining. You’re just being oppressed, and having your rights trodden all over, and your harrowing experiences treated with contempt. But they’re just women’s issues.

This sort of person really pisses me off. More than the “it doesn’t affect me, so I’m not going to care”, the people who think they can decide the emotions of others are worth nothing, that the incidents that provoked such emotions aren’t worth worrying about, and so on. Really, it shows everything that femanism is trying to change- the way women are still treated as second-class citizens, despite everything that’s happened.

“…remind me that I am very lucky and spoiled to be surrounded by like-minded people who are educated, aware of, and passionate about issues around sexual violence.”
I wouldn’t say that’s luck. That’s choice. Because, let’s face it, who wants to be surrounded by bigots?
…Other than, you know, other bigots who feel the same.

21 04 2009
Jason

…Ack! I put a note on the end of the first paragraph saying it was sarcasm (just to be sure that it was clear, although I think it is.) But it vanished. Didn’t like the tags.
So, uh. That first paragraph? Sarcasm.

21 04 2009
feminist2

I wasn’t being sarcastic. I was making a point about how my social circle comprises largely of like-minded people who are progressive, feminist, and passionate about feminist/social justice issues, and therefore I surround myself with people of similar minds who are educated about the issues.

21 04 2009
feminist2

Yes, you’re absolutely right. It is more choice than luck to surround yourself with like-minded people.

It’s especially insulting and infuriating when someone tries to engage in conversation with you about feminism and feminist/social justice issues, and they come in with so little information and just try to dominate the conversation with their ignorance.

22 04 2009
Jason

I’m with you there- but unfortunately, the world is filled with such people. I hate to overuse the word bigot (or any other, really) but that really is what these people are- they don’t care about listening or widening their viewpoint, or even accepting that yours is valid.
They want to talk about their viewpoint and how right it is, so loudly, that anyone wanting to say anything else is drowned out, so the only one that is heard is theirs.

We can wish for a solution, for some way to change these individuals, but really- what can you do, when they won’t even consider other ways of thinking? Better to focus your energy on those who’re intelligent and broad-minded enough to consider your perspective, in my opinion.
…Although it’s easier said than done.

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