One in Four- attendance lacking

I attended Monday night’s One in Four talk “by men for men” (but women could attend). The One in Four talk was really well presented. Rape is a sensitive subject, and the One in Four representatives handled it really well. They presented the definition of rape, how rape can happen, statistics about rape and sexual assault, how rape can be prevented… and, what men can do to support a survivor of rape and/or sexual assault. This is normally a talk that is reserved only for men, but One in Four made an exception and made it a co-ed talk so that women could attend. If I could have, I would have insisted everyone on campus attend the talk. There are students on campus who are survivors of rape and sexual assault. I’m sure a lot of students (male students included) know another student who is a survivor. I was disappointed to find that only 3 men attended (along with 15 or so women). So why weren’t they attending the One in Four talk to learn how to better support their friends? Was it simply a lack of advertising? Lack of interest? Are they just trying to avoid discomfort? I’d be interested in seeing this entry become the beginning of a discussion. Why aren’t men more involved in the Women’s Center? Why aren’t men attending the Rape and Sexual Assault Month events? What can we do to encourage men to become more active in that regard? Men, please speak up!

What should we do differently?

We’re looking for ways that we can make Consent is Sexy stronger as we continue to advocate for change on campus. We’ve addressed many common critiques (triggering, adversarial towards administration, sexist, targeting) in previous blog posts, but we hope you’ll help us out with generating ideas for things we should change as we move forward. We believe strongly that we can’t think of everything by ourselves, and we want to get more input from the community instead of continuing in isolation.

To this end, we are excited to announce the formation of two new groups. The first is a Sexual Misconduct Policy Advisory Committee, which is at present closed but will hopefully  open up for campus-wide elections in the fall. Through this committee, we will work with faculty and the administration to improve both policy and practice.

The second is the tentatively-titled Consent is Sexy Advocacy Alliance (CiSAA, pronounced see-saw) that will be an open group for both survivors and allies. We will never ask in meetings about someone’s survivor status, and it is our intent for everyone to feel comfortable participating. It will be entirely separate from SOAR, and will have an advocacy rather than support purpose.  With more perspectives, we hope to avoid some of the problems we faced last semester. Look out for our first meeting in the beginning of February, or email consentissexyhc@gmail.com to get involved!

Tell us what we should have done differently below, and help us change both our campaign and campus for the better.

Dear Survivors…

We want to apologize to all survivors for whom the Consent is Sexy postering campaign may have been triggering. The added stress of finals week made it a difficult time for everyone, and we’re so sorry if you’ve been triggered. Working on this campaign, we’ve been feeling much more prone to triggering, and stress and exhaustion certainly don’t help.

We started this campaign because it was important to us as survivors both to take action and to raise issues of rape and sexual assault here. Sometimes those conversations hurt, but we hope that they’ll help reduce the rate of sexual violence on campus.

We chose to run this campaign at the end of last semester for personal reasons, but it was short-sighted of us to plan it for right before finals. Again, we are truly sorry.

Love,

SOAR and the Consent is Sexy organizers

A post by an anonymous user, I am really angry, includes everything we would have said to non-survivors who are upset by the campaign. It’s an awesome post–please read it.

Survivors–regardless of how they feel about the campaign–are welcome to come to SOAR meetings. Email survivorsupporthc@gmail.com for more information. Consent is Sexy is no longer a part of SOAR.

Attention Anonymous Poster 1.10.12

During winter break the blog admins received an anonymous post titled “Legal Defense or Victim Blaming.” We would like to approve this post (as we do all posts that fit the posting guidelines), but we have some concerns regarding anonymity. Since the post was submitted anonymously, we have no way of contacting the author to address these concerns. Until we do so, we are not comfortable publishing it. To the author: if you would like to remain anonymous, please create an anonymous email account and contact us at consentissexyhc@gmail.com so that we can discuss this further and post your thoughts.

New Posting Guidelines

Recently, we’ve been seeing an increase in blog posts taken wholesale from another site. We’ve approved them in the past, but we will no longer be accepting posts that have more than one or two paragraphs quoted from another site or blog (as is the standard on most blogs). That’s for a few reasons:

  1. It’s poor netiquette. Posting all of the content from an outside post means that the original site doesn’t get the traffic. That’s not fair to the bloggers who worked hard to create original content.
  2. We’re looking for as many points of view as possible, but we’re generally more interested in voices from within Haverford (and the Bi-Co). We want to hear what you have to say about outside points of view.
  3. Short quotes from outside sources allow you to focus the conversation on the points you think are interesting.

The most common way to do quotes like this is as follows:

This is a block quote that I created by clicking the quote button to the right of the numbered list. [from WordPress.com]

For accessibility reasons, the web standard is to hide the url behind readable text; you should say “from WordPress.com,” not “from http://en.support.wordpress.com/visual-editor/#row-1.” See how the second one is more difficult to read and hides the title of the page? For more info, see the WordPress.com links support page.

If you just want to add a link and don’t want to say anything about it, go to the format box on the right of the editor and select Link. Add a title, and then put the link in the text box, still using the readable format above.

If you’re having trouble with the formatting or if you need help with readable titles, write **NOTE TO ADMINS** at the top and tell us what your problem is. We’ll fix it for you before approving the post. If you have general questions, comment here and we’ll try to help you out.

Don’t worry about posts that are already up–we weren’t clear about any of this in the beginning. We’ll go back through and edit for correct linking, but we’ll leave the full posts up.

We hope that this new posting policy will help us have more productive conversations as the new semester begins. Thanks!

Moving Forward, Looking Back

In this post, I am speaking as myself rather than a representative of Consent is Sexy.  These sentiments reflect my personal thoughts, struggles, and reflections regarding the campaign and some of the ensuing reactions.

The Consent is Sexy Campaign has seen a variety of reactions from community members, both supportive and hurtful.  Many people offered valid critiques that we tried to address, primarily through this blog.  However, as a survivor I have had a very hard time hearing one criticism in particular.  Some people perceived the campaign as too in-your-face, aggressive, and accusatory.  They complained we were offensive.  They complained the word “rape” made them uncomfortable.* They were uncomfortable with having to think about it.   Having the word “rape” plastered across campus was bad for business—it was alienating to prospective students and athletes, who didn’t want to think about it either. They complained our campaign was too “negative”—that we should focus on positive messages.  Since the very title of the campaign—Consent is Sexy—was positive, I am inclined to believe that any “negativity” at all would have been met with resistance. But was this even “negativity,” or was it merely honesty?  People had a huge problem that we had posted the word “rape”– on a poster or in chalk– proclaiming that rape does in fact happen at Haverford.  This is not negativity, it is the truth.  They were uncomfortable having to acknowledge the truths being expressed; they did not want to acknowledge our experiences, our existence.  They tore down and crumpled posters; they were angry and offended that we demanded to be acknowledged. Rape is a truth our community does not want to hear.  Our community does not want to address these past injustices—it wants merely to move on to something more positive– without acknowledging, without remembering.

To respond to these comments, I can only quote a post by my co-blogger, Christine Letts, who so perfectly summed up the necessity of having the issue of sexual violence openly recognized by the community:

We have an obligation to remember what our fellow citizens cannot be expected to forget.” –Pablo de Grieff

We can’t forget sexual violence. Sometimes it’s physically impossible to forget, or to stop thinking about it. We go to SOAR and remember every week. Sometimes remembering hurts. Sometimes remembering makes us angry. Sometimes remembering makes us sad. Not always, but sometimes.

We as a campus need to remember. I know people some people feel uncomfortable with the posters reminding everyone that rape happens here. But tearing down the posters won’t make rape go away. And trying to forget won’t make rape go away.

We as survivors remember. Do you?

Part of the difficulty in our campaign was getting people to remember.  For us, these issues are personal, emotional, and ongoing.  For the rest of the Community, they are very firmly and purposefully invisible.  They are even institutionally invisible. There is a long-standing history of bitterness and injustice between SOAR and the administration.  I am angry at the Deans for denying the value of SOAR as a resource for survivors and the continuing policy failures that have re-victimized on-campus survivors.  I am angry at the Community for allowing a culture of silence, and then tearing down and defacing posters when we try to break the silence.  So many wrongs have occurred here, and due to confidentiality and taboo, we cannot publicly address them.  But for me to move forward, to be able to graduate from Haverford without the memories of my time here being tainted with pain, mourning, and bitterness, there must be justice.  For the survivors on our campus to feel safe, supported, and empowered, there must be justice.  For our community to move towards a better, safer, more productive future, there must be justice.

The topic of restorative justice came up when the Consent is Sexy organizers met with representatives of the administration (Interim President Creighton, Theresa Tensuan and Jason McGraw) during finals week. Steve Watter and Martha Denney—the two deans who have been most involved in this issue previously, were noticeably absent. Theresa had some wonderful suggestions, and we discussed the formation of a joint student-administrative panel (using JSAAPP as a model) to address some of the grievances brought up in our campaign.  We all seemed to agree that working from a model of restorative justice will prove very fruitful in this endeavor, as this will facilitate reparations in the form of institutional change towards a safer future for all Haverford students.  I believe this eye towards the future is very important.  However, I also believe there must still be a look back, in order to restore the relationship we current survivors have with our college.

The system has failed the survivors on this campus.  It has re-victimized us, exacerbating the burden we carry by failing to alleviate the hostility of our environment.  Even though the meeting with the administration was productive, I could not help but feel unsatisfied at the end.  Trying to figure out why, I now realize I want an apology.  I want recognition of the wrongs that have been done before they are righted. While I think the absence of Martha Denney in particular made the meeting more productive by reducing the tension and placing focus on the future, it is undeniable that that tension still exists. I wish Martha Denney and Steve Watter had been at that meeting. Even with the legal complications of pending lawsuits and confidentiality, I need to know that they remember.  Even if done privately and off the record, I want them to say “We are sorry the system failed you.  We are sorry we failed you.  We recognize your pain, and our role in it,” and then “How can we help you now?  How can we move forward?”  I want the Haverford community to recognize the trauma suffered by survivors on this campus.  I want the community to say “We acknowledge your pain.  We mourn with you” before they say “How can we move forward?”

A true model of restorative justice requires both recognition of past wrongs and movement towards a more productive future.  Those who have not been affected by sexual violence may be able to simply move forward, but I cannot.  Unlike many in our community, I cannot forget.  I will never forget has happened to me and so many others, and I cannot move on to a better future with others who do.  Without remembering, there will never be a true right relationship between survivors and our community. Without the recognition of injustice, moving forward is nothing more than another form of forgetting.

The Haverford Community has an obligation to remember what survivors cannot be expected to forget.  First there must be remembering.  Then there may be justice.


*This does not refer to survivors who were triggered.  We found the potential for triggering to be a valid criticism and tried to address it with intelligent sensitivity.  I am personally sorry to anyone who experienced triggering or psychological discomfort as a result of the campaign.  Please accept my most heartfelt apology.  I empathize with you.  I hurt with you.  I grieve with you.  I encourage you to seek comfort by whatever means is best for you.  This campaign has, in part, been my own form of comfort.