Talking about rape culture with 13 year old boys

I have the privilege of working with youth on the regular and it feeds my soul. It really, truly does. It's my touchstone to the 'real world' and my reminder that this work is worth doing it.

With everything going on at the University of Ottawa right now, there have been lots of conversations about rape culture and engaging men. 

When a group of guys threaten a womyn with rape and their defense is "Hey, this is just guy talk! This is how dudes roll. You don't understand us", it's proof that maybe we understand you all too well, asshole. 

But besides my snarky knee jerk reaction, their defense breaks my heart. It breaks my heart because sadly, yeah, lots of dudes think that the best way to argue with a womyn is to resort to threatening her. But I truly believe that there are many more solid dudes than shitty ones. 

So, I put it out there to my Twitter followers: If I was trying to explain rape culture to your 13 year old self, what would have resonated with you? 

Myths about sexual violence and social media

[This post deals with sexual violence and social media, including explicit descriptions of sexual violence. Please exercise self-care.]

As an feminist in the 21st century and a public educator, I've had to do a lot of thinking about social media and its connections to sexual violence.

What I've learned is that there exists a ton of myths about it. This makes sense when you consider that social media is a really recent phenomenon and therefore, we're grappling with how to deal with it; not simply in its relationship to violence, but how it's shaping our world in a host of new ways we have yet to really understand.

There are few people who are talking about sexual violence and social media and I would argue, there are even fewer people than that who are getting it right.  For an amazing example of people who are getting it right, check out Steph Guthrie and Jessica Spence's piece at WiTOpoli.

This list of myths could easily have been an FAQ because I find myself answering a lot of questions from well intentioned folks who are really at a loss with how to deal.

Buckle your seat belts, kids!

I was sexually assaulted by young boys and this is why we need to talk about it

[TRIGGER WARNING for explicit discussions of sexual assault. Full disclosure: A version of this story was originally published on xoJane.com. But the site no longer exists sadly]

Anyone who meets current, 20 something activist me, would probably describe me as crass, outspoken, potty mouthed and abrasive. I talk smack about the patriarchy for a living and am pretty darn good at it. But teenaged me was shy, awkward and determined to remain in her parents’ good books.

 I went to a Catholic school run by nuns and stayed out of trouble by having a long-distance boyfriend. Living in a small town, there were few employment opportunities for high school kids. I was stuck in that “Can’t get a job because I don’t have any experience but I can’t get any experience until someone gives me a job”. So I did what most high school students in my situation did: I did a ton of baby-sitting.

I baby-sat my little cousins, I baby-sat these adorable rich kids down the street and I baby-sat two boys who one day, sexually assaulted me.

I drive a classic car. Here's how to talk to me about it without being a giant jackass

After a decade of ownership, trust me, I get it. My car is hilarious, unique and old. But with summer here and therefore, my baby out of storage and on the streets, I feel it is time to lay down some ground rules once and for all.

Since I cannot speak directly to the people who honk, stare, wave, gesture, etc. to me when I'm driving, I will state it here.

How to interact with a womyn who drives a classic car: 

The politics of wearing a yellow manteau

I have a thing for colour. I have been wearing bold colours for as long as I can remember. In fact, I distinctly remember how cool I felt on my first day of grade 6 when I showed wearing head-to-toe tie-dye. Damn, I was cool.

I have a special affinity for yellow (duh!) and may or may not own a dozen yellow coats, not to mention boots, dresses, shirts, skirts, pants, purses, accessories, you name it.

I want ALL of the yellow


Now that 'colour blocking' is an official trend, I feel a little less like a drunk clown, but I still 'stick out'. And it's that sticking out element of my wardrobe that has gotten me thinking about the politics of womyn's clothing.

Page 3 of 3