How ingrained all of this stuff really is.

Okay, so after vowing to write regularly, I disappear for more than a week. This is due to a heinous cold or flue or whatever the hell it was that knocked me on my ass for 3 days - and then various other work and family related things that seemed to just make the days fly by.

So, back to SlutWalk again. The Walk itself was awesome. The turnout wasn't what they were hoping for but I think we still had a good 400 people there - pretty darn good if you ask me. I have not been involved in something like that in a long time and it felt really good. The best part for me was the women who were not scheduled as speakers but came up and shared their thoughts and feelings. This is the reality and this is what we are all living with - it was very powerful to just hear why people were there and how this has affected them. I was also pleased to see a lot of men there. This is something that affects everyone.

There was one thing that bothered me and it really made me realize how deeply ingrained the victim-blaming in our society is. There was one amazingly strong woman who came up and read three poems about her experience. Just incredible and so brave of her to do that. She was so clearly making her claim for justice and refusing to accept the blame. But after a few other people had spoken, she took the mike again and advised the women in the crowd to fight back if they are ever assaulted because she didn't fight back and the police wouldn't believe the she didn't consent because she didn't fight. That broke my heart. I was sad for her that she was blamed and questioned and victimized all over again. And I was so sad that she had taken that so closely to heart. It was well-meant advice. But when we tell women that they need to fight back so that they'll be taken seriously, we are, once again, putting the responsibility on them. Why do we have to take on the burden of fighting to prove that we didn't consent? Why doesn't an accused have to show that there was consent? There are a million reasons why victims don't fight back. And what is fighting back anyway? What might have looked like submission to one person, might have felt like resistance to another? How hard to I have to fight? And how do I prove that I fought back? Isn't the only proof that I fought back injury to one or both of us? What if I don't want to risk that?

If I hear one more sexual assault prevention tip, I will throw up. If comes, often, from a good place - a place of wanting to help people stay safe. But really, it simply focuses the attention on the wrong part of the equation. Let's focus on why sexualized violence happens and how to really stop it. The only ones who can stop it are the ones who do it.

Here's a link to an awesome interview with Jessica Valenti of feministing. She thinks that SlutWalks are an indicator of a new kind of young feminism that is emerging and I think I agree with her.