Thursday, April 22, 2010

Denim Day And No Excuses

Yesterday was Denim Day which is an event which raises awareness about sexual violence. As part of this event they have a "no excuses" campaign (pdf). This is important because so many people who claim to be against sexual violence find one or more excuses for why an act of sexual violence doesn't count as violence or why it doesn't matter if it cannot be denied.

The most popular excuses are based on the belief that those who are taking a sexual action have no legal or moral duty to ensure that the other person is actually a willing participant and that they have no duty to respect unwillingness except under very limited circumstances. Under these excuses if someone else might consent or has ever consented under similar circumstances then actual consent is optional. Under these excuses unwillingness is often a starting point rather than a stopping point.

When I say that each of us has a duty to ensure that our sexual actions aren't acts of sexual violence I'm too frequently dismissed or called vile names. My view goes directly against a popular narrative that only potential victims of sexual violence have a duty to prevent sexual violence.

Too often rape is positioned, directly or indirectly, as the rightful punishment for behavior people don't approve of. Flirting. Going out alone at night. Drinking. Consensual sex outside of marriage. This positioning often results in rape victims facing condemnation from people who claim to believe in sexual morality even as they ignore or excuse rapists.

For me the no excuses must apply to all those who are sexually violent and to all those who negate sexual violence in any way. I'm always amazed at people who attack rape victims, either through victim blaming or rape denial, and who then claim to be victimized when their attack results in a backlash against them.

Too often accountability is only for victims of sexual violence and they are often expected to be accountable for actions which they didn't take and which they didn't consent to. That must stop if we are serious about preventing sexual violence.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:30 AM   2 comments links to this post


At April 23, 2010 11:52 AM, Anonymous m Andrea said...

Marcella, your arguments have always been tight, but it seems like lately they are even better than ever. Incredible! Thank you so much!

At April 23, 2010 3:55 PM, Anonymous Social Worker said...

(sounds of thunderous applause)

Thank you.


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