Community Accountability

[TRIGGER WARNING: This post discusses sexual violence. Please exercise self-care.]

Working in this sector means I end up being the 'Dear Abby' of my social circle. I don't mind; it comes with the territory.

But a friend approached me with a story recently that has really resonated with this concept I've been trying to get across in more and more of my public education work. The idea of community accountability. (*For the record, I am by no means claiming to be the inventor of 'community accountability', both as a title, concept or approach to this work. This is just my attempt to flesh out what it looks like in my own work.] 

Here's the story.

How I will live my life once we've ended rape culture

“But if rape culture was dismantled, you’d be out of a job, no?” He said slyly with a clear “AHA!” twinkle in his eye. You know, that moment where someone thinks they’ve painted you into a corner and now have to confess to all your wrongdoings. Those moments where you’re locked in a battle with someone who is in no way invested in the answer but just wants to walk away feeling like they “gotcha”.

A variation of this happens to me fairly often, both off and online.

It’s born from the idea that because I am paid to be a public educator against sexual violence, I am invested in the upholding of rape culture. If you’re into capitalism, I suppose it’s an easy conclusion to draw.

But it has clearly never occurred to people that I loathe most parts of my job. Doing prevention work with receptive audiences? I’ll happily do that all day every day. But the other 95% of my day job? Eff that.

Supporting womyn who have been incredibly traumatized? Hate it.

Making the same statements over and over and over again and being heard less than 50% of the time? Hate it.

Working 70 hours a week and getting paid an absurdly low wage for 40 hours of that work? Hate it.

Because MRAs, anti-feminists and general smartasses think they’ve got this in the bag, here it is:

What I Will Do Once We Dismantle Rape Culture

Tools of the trade

Being an effective activist takes more than just a lot of rage and some free time. It makes the job a heck of a lot easier if you have the right tools. Here's a peek into my 'tool box'. (Unsurprisingly, a lot of my tools are yellow!) 

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? 

Too Legit To Quit

In December 2012, I was a speaker at TEDxSandyHill. Unfortunately, much time has passed and none of the videos have been released, nor any of the photos from the afternoon portion. And of course, I was in the afternoon. Oy!

Below is the text from my talk.

Resolutions + 'Fuck It' Lists

A new year! A new start! A new attempt at making resolutions that never pan out! A new deluge of self-help blog posts trying to help you keep to your resolutions! A new sense of failure!

Look, I can't get judgy. I make resolutions every year. I'm also stubborn enough to stick to them every year.

This year's resolution? Sit less.

I work a lot but most of it is in front of a computer or in meetings. Sitting is considered the contemporary health issue in North America and I can't deal with another health problem. I started being more aware of how much time I sit late last year and I want to keep it up.

What's really helped is the StandApp, an app that gives you an alarm to tell you to get up and then it gives you an exercise to do for a few minutes. Ignore the fat-shaming elements and just concentrate on the actual alarm and exercises and you're set. It's also free!

But don't like the inevitable guilt that comes from breaking your resolution? Make a "Fuck It List"! No, I'm serious.

In 2012, when it was all the rage to make a "Bucket List", my cynical self decided to make a "Fuck It List" instead. It was honestly one of the most freeing exercises I've ever done. It's a great way of staying true to yourself and saying "You know what? These are my vices/loves/no-fly-zones. Take it or leave it, universe".

I was reminded of my own list when friends on my timeline were circulating this great and hilarious post on Medium.

To help you get inspired, here is my own "Fuck It List", developed in 2012 and still standing today!

Must Reads of 2013: Rape Culture Edition

I read a whole hell of a lot of stuff about rape culture. I know - I'm a real hoot at parties. One of the most popular questions I receive is 'What's a good primer on rape culture? What's a good blog post / article / book that I can share with folks who don't believe me when I say rape culture is a thing that exists?'

Here's my list of best takedowns of rape culture for 2013 (in no particular order).

This is why we need to talk about sexual violence and social media

I wrote a piece about sexual violence and social media.

It seemed a fairly straight forward piece. A piece that barely mentioned the Rehtaeh Parsons case. Read it for yourself; you'll see that her story was but a blip in the entire piece.

It seems that my article made its way to the 'Defend the Boys' camp.

I assume that's what happened, because it's the only explanation for the following two e-mails in my inbox.

WARNING: THIS STUFF IS NASTY, VICTIM-BLAMING 101 CRAP. Please exercise self-care. Seriously. It's awful.

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!

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