Tag Archives: sexual assault

Sex and Consent Needs to Be a Regular Conversation Topic

At a time when my provincial government is attempting to dial back progress in the Sex Ed classrooms, reality is proving that this is a horrific idea.

In Ottawa, which is our nation’s capital:

In Toronto, my provincial capital:

We have many, many victims–some of whom are adults and have lived with this for 30 years or more, some of whom committed suicide.

We have people who clearly don’t know where to go to get help, when they feel like they might do something non-consensual.

We have administrators, teachers and parents who clearly don’t know it’s not okay to sweep things under the rug.

We need to do something about this. Something needs to change.

Let’s start by talking about it–to everyone and anyone of any age, at all times, in all places. End the secrets.

 

The Drawback of Feminism

Though I’m generally not all that impressed by the Liberal Party, I do like Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.  I think she’s on the right track with several things.  The new changes to the sex-ed curriculum are a good start (but just a start) to dealing the issues of sexuality in our society.  I was pleased to see there was a video to go with it.

And then I watched the video.

Well.  I guess we’re still back in the 60s, and the last 50 years have all been a dream.

Even if you still (still?) subscribe to the theory that there are only two genders, you should be annoyed by this video.

From SACHA:

  •  It is estimated that one in ten adult men have been sexually assaulted, the majority of perpetrators being heterosexual men. (Isely & Hehrenbech-Shim, 1997; Scarce, 1997.)
  • One in four women and one in ten men have experienced some form of sexual harassment in the workplace. (Saskatchewan Women’s Secretariat.)

From The Department of Justice:

  • 32% of men with developmental disabilities… had been sexually assaulted.
  • in 2001, 3% of spousal sexual violence cases were against men; “This amounts to an estimated… 14,000 men who were sexually assaulted by a spousal partner over the 5 year period preceding the study.”

Should you understand that there are actually more than two genders, you might be interested in this: AMS Sexual Assault Support Centre at UBC says, “Statistics for trans* folks and men are almost non-existent due the barriers when reporting assaults or attempting to seek help.”  (I couldn’t find any relevant information from Ontario, either–a fact that didn’t really surprise me.)

And then we come to the part that society cannot wrap its mind around: all the abusers in this video are male, but that’s not the case in reality.  The gentle female of the species, viewed as innocent and constantly victimised, does fling off the pink apron and assault other humans–both male and female.  Again, the statistics on this are warped because of the reporting barriers.

Kathleen Wynne’s bio on the Premier’s website says, “We are working to bring people together to find common ground, because that’s what we do in Ontario.”  I would think that the first “common ground” we might look at is the fact that we’re all human, and that no human enjoys being sexually assaulted.

Sex

It’s Saturday evening; I’m sitting at the end of a pile of boulders, right on the edge of Lake Ontario. It’s a small, rocky beach just a few blocks away from the Credit River, so there’s nothing natural or soulful here, but it’s the first evening in a week that hasn’t felt like a sauna. The swans are still moving so slowly that they could be mistaken for floating statues, and some kids are lazily tossing rocks in the lake–trying for splashes rather than skips. The only active things are the hungry swallows that have just arrived for dinner. They’re gonna be real fat by the end of the season.

I hate summer.

Anyway, you’re probably wondering what the festy shores of Lake Ontario have to do with the title of this blog. Nothing.  Gotcha.

Before I go on, I want you to ask yourself two questions, and be honest with yourself:

1. What was it about the title that got your attention? Was it a negative or positive reaction to the word?
2. What are you thinking/hoping this post will be about?

Alrighty. Let’s get on with this… no, wait. One more thing. I’d like to give kudos to Joss Whedon for inspiring this blog. As the story goes,  reporters repeatedly ask him why he writes such strong female characters; one of his responses was “Because you’re still asking me that question.”

Asking questions is always good, but questions demand answers.

A couple of weeks ago, I submitted a story to my writing group. It was a new Psychopathia Sexualis story—based on the case studies—about incest. Now, there’s no nice way to approach a story about incest, but I thought I’d done a fair job of treading that line between too much detail and not enough. Of course, the goal was to have the reader thoroughly disgusted (I’m not writing for the sort of reader who would not be disgusted by incest). Most of the other writers were properly nauseated, or were at least able to point out where I was going too far to one side of the line or the other.  In the end, though, one of the writers commented that he found it hard to read, and he wondered why anyone would want to read about this sort of thing anyway.

A hundred years ago, people were still asking why anyone would want to read books with strong female characters anyway.

The first edition of Psychopathia Sexualis was published in 1886. If you compare the early editions to the later ones, very few of the cases have been removed. The “illnesses” of 130 years ago are still the same illnesses. Hysteria has been chopped, but that’s about it.

The book was written by a physician: physicians still believe that such sexually deviant behaviours must have a large organic component (as opposed to being entirely behavioural). Organic components are within the realm of human understanding. We use our knowledge of chemistry, biology and anatomy to cure disorders that negatively affect us. We’re trying to cure cancer… but we’ve done nothing about incest. When incest pops up in our culture, we hide it. People who write about it are considered sensationalists or child pornographers.

Sweeping things under the rug solves nothing: it creates a lump under the rug that gets stepped on and mashed up and then permanently adheres to the floor. The statistics for sexual assault make cancer look like nothing.  (I’ve linked to the stats for children’s cancer because the story is about a child: look at the sex assault stats for children under 16.  It works out to about 153 cases per million for cancer, and 170 000 cases per million for sexual assault.)  Sexual assault is the elephant under the rug, people. We can avoid reading the “porn” and the “sensationalism” in the newspapers so that we aren’t distressed by others’ misfortunes; we can let the rich people go on because we don’t want to ruin their important lives; we can let the poor people go on because we don’t want to get involved in their unimportant lives; we can ignore the signs because they’re so frightening that we don’t know how to deal with them—but none of this makes it go away. Grandparents are still raping their grandchildren; parents are still raping their children; aunts and uncles are still raping their nieces and nephews; older siblings are still raping their younger siblings. If the problem hasn’t diffused and disappeared in the 200 000 years since the last human swung down from the trees, then it clearly isn’t going to do it now.

I’m writing the Psychopathia Sexualis stories because people are still reacting to the word “sex”. I’m hoping that most of you had a positive reaction to it (“Ooooh, let’s see what this is!) rather than negative (“Well, she’s an even blacker sheep than I thought!”). I’m hoping that these few stories will help haul that huge elephant out from under the rug so that we can at least stare at the elephant rather than trip over it. I’m hoping that we’ll get to a point where no one has to ask why we’d read about psychopathic sex. I’m hoping that in 200 years, someone will be able to say, “Our classmate was raped yesterday. She’s physically okay, but please offer her a lot of emotional support. Her neighbour is now in the hospital, getting the help he needs.”

Yeah, I know.  I think big.