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After a few months of flagging attendance, this was one of the best attended meetings we’d had all spring.
I explained a little about the Sexual Violence in Young Adult Literature Project and sent them links to past pieces about topics on TLT that I thought would be useful to inform our discussion. I made it clear to them that this was a sensitive and potentially upsetting and triggering subject to be discussing, and that it was fine to decide to skip this meeting, or to want to come but not talk, or to get up and leave during the meeting.
I assured them no explanation was necessary if they wanted to do any of these things.
One of the girls said the class was more focused on information about STDs, pregnancy, “and scaring kids away from sex.” She said they briefly talked about dating violence (such as hitting) and suicide, but never about rape.
I asked them to think about what books they’ve read in their literature classes that might address anything about sexual violence.
A few of the book club members were familiar with the term “rape culture,” but many were not.
I read them this explanation of rape culture from the blog Shakesville in an October 9, 2009 post titled “Rape Culture 101” (linked to from a Buzzfeed article via the SVYALit project index under “additional resources”):“Rape culture is telling girls and women to be careful about what you wear, how you wear it, how you carry yourself, where you walk, when you walk there, with whom you walk, whom you trust, what you do, where you do it, with whom you do it, what you drink, how much you drink, whether you make eye contact, if you’re alone, if you’re with a stranger, if you’re in a group, if you’re in a group of strangers, if it’s dark, if the area is unfamiliar, if you’re carrying something, how you carry it, what kind of shoes you’re wearing in case you have to run, what kind of purse you carry, what jewelry you wear, what time it is, what street it is, what environment it is, how many people you sleep with, what kind of people you sleep with, who your friends are, to whom you give your number, who’s around when the delivery guy comes, to get an apartment where you can see who’s at the door before they can see you, to check before you open the door to the delivery guy, to own a dog or a dog-sound-making machine, to get a roommate, to take self-defense, to always be alert always pay attention always watch your back always be aware of your surroundings and never let your guard down for a moment lest you be sexually assaulted and if you are and didn’t follow all the rules it’s your fault.” You could have heard a pin drop after I read this.
I wanted them to hear these words, to listen to someone making it clear for them that sexual assault can happen in a lot of different ways.
For their own sakes, I wanted them to know this, to really understand it.
Male, female, trans, bi, not sure of what gender, not claiming a binary gender, gay straight, anyone on the Rainbow or not claiming anything: it can happen to anyone, by anyone.
You can be assaulted by those older than you, those younger, those in positions of power, those you are married to, those you are engaged to, related to, or complete strangers to.”I read them this piece to make it clear what sexual assault is and to point out that it can happen to anyone and be perpetuated by anyone.
They thought it was interesting that these stories were being told, but no one was talking to them about them.Tags: Adult Dating, affair dating, sex dating