We've taken a little hiatus from wedding planning period. I haven't even looked at wedding stuff in a while - though we did get all of our invitations and thank you notes purchased, thank you very much.
No, this blog is about the wonderful evening I just spent with Jessica Valenti (from the blog Feministing) and Jaclyn Friedman, the co-editors of Yes Means Yes, a kickass anthology of pro-sex, anti-rape work. Now, not only are these women awesome and inspiring but they were really funny and gave me some things to think about.
First of all, I should start out by saying that not much in the presentation/discussion was something I hadn't already heard/seen/read somewhere before. That being said, it was presented excellently. It also makes me wonder, as someone who is an anti-rape activist/advocate (can you tell I'm loving the backslash this evening?) what I have to contribute to the body of work that is out there. Is there something I can contribute or will I simply be a broken record of things that have already been said? I think there are things I can contribute for sure, but what form will that come in? I always joke that I want to infiltrate the school systems with feminist thought and comprehensive sex ed (which they both talk about a lot and made my heart smile), but is that enough. What if I want to reach more people? Will I have something unique to say? Does that even matter? What about the work I'm doing here (work being a slightly dramatic word for blogging)? Does that count? My ideas aren't really new - but they might be to someone, right? Ugh, the questions.
It also is simultaneously frustrating and awe-inspiring to be surrounded by "forward thinkers" - those that challenge the rape culture because I want to have ideas, but damnit, they are already taken. haha..I'm just kidding, kind of...but it does make me wonder where my voice is.
Secondly...and this may answer a lot of my questions that I just posed to myself but then again, I could again be repeating something that is already going on somewhere else...Jaclyn said something tonight that made me think about anti-rape organizations and the work they do and how, in order to really begin the shift of rethinking masculinity as a culture and to begin dismantling something we've had in place for so long, we need a "critical mass" of people to join the cause.
which leads me to my next train of thought - THAT SHOULD BE A ORGANIZATION'S NAME!..it makes perfect sense. I want to start a group (perhaps at Wash U when I go there, instead of trying to do something here in 2 weeks) called Critical Mass. the mission would be to inform and educate as many people as possible to help the culture reach a critical mass of people working again sexual violence. I think it's catchy. and we would have shirts - possibly hoodies (that's why people join groups anyway).
Tonight also made me reflect on some of the work I've been fortunate enough to do surrounding sexual violence, but it also made me reflect on the work I haven't done, or have fallen out of. It's weird to think that I got where I am now, doing the work I do because of sexual violence prevention education. It was my in to all things social justice. Now, I do very little work that directly impacts sexual assault. Which makes me sad, in a way. Sure, I'm doing a lot of social justice things, being an ally and all which helps the overall culture of oppression which feeds into rape culture BUT what am I doing to actively address this specific issue of violence that got me started in the first place? Why have I become disconnected? MORE QUESTIONS..
Anyway, it was a wonderful evening with a wonderful chat full of disturbing images and examples of the culture I live in. Personally, I think things like Purity Balls and Abstinence contracts should be outlawed - Purity Balls reek of pedophilia to me. I am disturbed by our society's simultaneous infatuation and fear of sex. Being that wishy-washy about something can't be healthy. As well as the fact that the information that our society presents in biased by gender.
Which is why I like the idea of a feminist wedding and raising feminist children (of which there were 2 before the presentation tonight, you can follow the dad that brought them there on twitter at rebeldad) - we can start with these things that are taken for granted in society : patriarchal weddings, gendering our children, and make a difference to someone, somewhere.
I often wonder if I will ever make a difference in someone's life like my mentors have done for me. I can only hope...but who says you can't start with your own kids, right?
Anyway, those are my thoughts on the rape culture, feminism, and gendering for now. I need to go read some crossdressing memoirs now...