Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

May is sexual assault awareness month. It’s April in the US, which seems odd, but whatever… In any case, it’s the time of the year when we’re supposed to be raising awareness about sexual assault.

What the hell does that even mean?

Does it mean dispelling the myths of all the bullshit ‘prevention tips’?

Does it mean targeting boys and men to not only stop raping people but calling out other dudes who do?

As a sexual assault support worker and an anti-violence activist, my views on the matter are clearly more ‘radical’ than others. Although I speak and work in many different forums that require different techniques and approaches, the truth is that all I really want to do is RAGE. Rage, rage, rage against the statistics, the bullshit policies and the apathy that I see around me every day.

It’s not healthy or wise to spend each moment of everyday telling people “Every 17 minutes in Ontario, a womyn is raped BUT that also means that every 17 minutes, a man is raping someone”. It doesn’t exactly make for great chit chat.

But what I really want to do and the message I want people to absorb is that rape is cancer.

Yes, rape is cancer. (Hear me out...)

People give a shit about cancer. Trust. People will wear a ribbon, join a walk/run/job/stroll, sign a petition, donate their pennies or ride their bike across the country. People will go around in public with signs saying that they are a survivor, or love someone who is. They will come up with clever slogans like “Save the Titties” and put pink on everything when dealing with cancers that deal with genitalia. Companies will jump on board, spread the anti-cancer cheer and rage, laugh and dance to cancer.

People will stand together and publicly raise their hands to say that they or someone they love was affected by cancer. And when they do, they will look around to see the vast majority of people with their hand up.

This is why rape is cancer.

If most people have been affected by cancer and are willing to publicly own it, why are they not doing this for rape and sexual assault?

If 1 in 4 womyn in Canada (with higher rates for First Nations, immigrant and refugee and disabled womyn) will experience sexual assault in their lifetime and that’s just the womyn, and when you consider that womyn make up 51% of the Canadian population, where’s my public witnessing?

“But FC”, I hear you saying, “Sexual assault is private”.

Why? Why do survivors of sexual assault live with a giant scarlet “S” on their chest and yet those with cancer are publicly defended and supported?

Rape happens to someone. Cancer happens to someone. Nobody with cancer deserves it just like nobody who is sexually assaulted deserved it.

People who lived with cancer are survivors. People who are sexually assaulted are survivors.

Rape is a societal cancer that we all live with, whether we know it or not, and it’s about damn time we end the shame. That's my hope for this month.

Can I get a witness?