The statistics are frightening. Sexual violence is an epidemic. We must keep talking about it. This week's Sex Stories We Love recognizes Sexual Assault Awareness Month and the on-going discussion and action we must all continue to participate in.
Living in Fear
Some might wonder why we need to call attention to sexual assault awareness with an entire month dedicated to discussion and action. These statistics of the measures women take to (hopefully) avoid sexual assault are as damning as the heartbreaking numbers of sexual assaults that occur. These results show just how much women live in fear. How they have to chance their lives to accommodate that fear. How simple activities, such as walking down the street, are impacted because of the rampant potential of physical harm. Nobody should need to change the way they live because of fear. Only when the realities of sexual assault change will this fear subside.
Video Game Victimization
There has long been a debate around normalizing violence, with different types of media taking the brunt of blame at different times. Everything from the nightly news to movies to songs to books have all faced scrutiny for the potential of glorifying violent acts. Arguments arise from both sides regarding responsibility and social welfare as well as artistic freedom and depicting real stories. There is no easy answer. However, a true watershed moment might have come when the video game Rape Day was pulled from release. The game, which features murder and rape as part of its interactive game play, was due for release in April, but has been pulled back. What sets a video game apart from other media is that films, books, songs, and news are all statics. We observe. In a game like Rape Day, the player actively chooses to rape. And that a game of this nature came this close to release is frightening.
Consent, Not Invent
"Most of the evil in this world is done by people with good intentions." — T.S. Eliot
The latest product to hit the market to prevent sexual assault is the condom that takes four hands to open. You get it? Both people involved must actively tug on it to get the safer sex tool out. It seems like a positive step in the move toward consent. But...is it really progress?
Well, they do get people talking and thinking about consent. However, do you notice how all of these still place the onus on women to take action? These devices center sexual assault prevention as precaution because rape is inevitable.
And it isn't. It really isn't. We just need to change our thinking. We need strong consent-focused education to reverse rape culture mentality. It won't be easy. It won't be fast. Yet, changing the way society thinks about sexual assault will go much further in changing the world any any product every will.
To Serve, Protect, and Care
Another significant change that must happen is how police officers treat and care for sexual assault victims and survivors. We've heard far too many stories of victims and survivors treated with disdain, negligence, and abuse by cops who don't believe them. And we wonder why people don't come forward and report what happened. These actions reinforce and create new trauma, compounding an already horrific experience. Fortunately, some jurisdictions are making progress and implementing specific policies to maintain the agency and dignity of survivors through care and proper investigation techniques. This is a step in the right direction.
Music to Our Ears
More change is happening. After the widespread sexual assault at Coachella last year, the producers of the event took strong steps to change a cultural event marred by assaults, groping, and more. By reaching out to the women of colour led consulting agency Shift to create an inclusive safety program known as every one, the Goldenvoice group understood that sexual safety is an intersectional issue. From there, Shift pulled together expertise and experience from many different voices to inform a new policy that, hopefully, makes the festival a better experience for everyone. As the event rages on this month, hopefully we don't hear the same stories from the past.
Written on the Body
Finally, tattoos are an ancient art form that can signify many different things. For sexual assault survivors, ink can be a powerful form of therapy and reclamation.