Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Men are the solution.

Thinking about rape sucks.

I mean, really.
It is no fun.
At all.

That in mind, I have crazy appreciation and respect for non-victims who've chosen to join the anti-rape movement. Shoot! I have crazy appreciation & respect for anyone who chooses to align themselves with the movement.

I am a survivor of sexual assault. I have to think about rape. Whether I like it or not, it is a part of every step I take, every sentence I write and every word I utter. Being a survivor of sexual assault is part of who I am. And frankly, if I didn't HAVE to think about rape I'm pretty damn sure I wouldn't. Because (as we know) it is no fun. At all.

And I like fun. To quote a wise friend from high school, "fun is awesome." And a world without rape sounds pretty fun to me. Idealistic? Sure. But certainly fun.

A world without rape. Think about it...picture it...got it?....okay,.....now......smile, aaaaaaand [repeat].

Granted I am not sure how to create a world without rape. But I am fairly certain that the 1 in 6 - 8 women and 1 in 10-33 men who are survivors cannot do it alone.

Perhaps you've heard these statistics before. If so, you've probably heard them used as an educational tool or even a scare-tactic. But have you ever heard them as an invitation? If not, I invite you to.

So far, the business of fighting sexual assault has been pretty much left-up to survivors and their close family and friends. Please understand that it is draining to have your deepest wounds continually re-opened during your regular-work-week. (The plus-side of this is that you're generally forced to make great strides toward healing in a relatively short time. In my mind, the benefit outweighs the cost). As such, I think the movement could flourish (rather than merely survive) if we were joined, en masse, by people who weren't so darn 'drained' by it.

So please, join us!

Right now, I am not asking much. It's as easy a 1...2...3...

1. Please become a follower of this blog (see the grey follow button at right? yeah...that's the one...)
2. Check for updates now and again.
3. If you feel inspired to do so, leave a comment -- ask a question! Start a debate! Do a little bit of very-un-fun thinking about rape.

That is all I ask of you. And I believe the benefit could be great. I believe that if we're willing to make small, incremental changes we can collectively make a big difference.

Anthropologist & feminist Margaret Meade famously said, "never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

Ms. Meade was right on. But we have a powerful tool that world-changers in the past lacked: the World Wide Web. So with respect for these "small groups" (to whom we owe so much), I say, let's shoot bigger.

Surviving isn't good enough anymore. We all deserve to thrive.

PS -- I should probably call attention to the (true but) misleading title of this entry. I think it's catchier than "everyone is the solution" (We are the World pretty much covered that territory -- jus'sayin).

Saturday, May 15, 2010

What IS "making love," anyway?

The Words We Use is an exercise I frequently do with high school students in my work as a Rape Prevention Educator. I ask the students to name 10 or more words used for women and girls who have sex or are sexually active, men and boys who have sex or are sexually active and then words used to describe having sex or being sexually active.

The results are consistent: the words used to describe women are generally negative, the words for men are complimentary and the words for "sex" are usually violent. It seems that "nailing," "drilling," "pounding," "banging" & "fucking" casually roll off the tongues of youth but the words "making love" leave them rosy-cheeked and embarrassed.

The cultural definition of "making love" usually refers to two people who are in love sharing their bodies in a sexual way (a blush-worthy definition for any high school student, to be sure). But I'd like to explore a more literal definition. I am wondering what produces love? Is it parenthood? Friendship? Romance? This is a bigger question than can be adequately addressed in this blog entry. Clearly. But for the sake of exploration, roll with me.

Parenthood, friendship and romance all have connection in common. I can argue that connecting & being fully present with others can produce joy and, depending on your definition, love.

My next question is -- what do we enter the bedroom to do, exactly? Is it simply to get off? If that is all, the other person is a mere accessory. You can "fuck," "nail" or "bang" your partner and you may reach your goal of orgasm in happy conjunction with them but you also run the risk of doing it at the expense of their well-being.

Countless songs, poems & visual works of art have been inspired by sex. Yet certainly many 'sexually active' folks have wondered "what is all the fuss about?" I don't claim to have all the answers, but I am pretty sure all the "fuss" did not stem from merely getting-off at the hands of another person [pardon the pun]. It was inspired by something more.

Instead of concerning ourselves solely with attaining orgasm or pleasuring our partner, I argue a more enjoyable experience will be had if we enter an encounter with the goal of connecting or being with another person. That connection can take many forms. It may be tender or rough, vanilla or kinky, it may be shared between lifelong partners or total strangers or anything in-between. But when partners connect with one another, when they check-in and make sure that their actions and behaviors are in-line with their partner's wants and desires, everyone leaves the experience feeling joyful and loving. In essence, you have produced, created, or in other words, made love.

The person who just had a fulfilling sexual experience is probably not the person cutting in line at the grocery store or flipping you off on the highway. They're more likely the person letting you cut in line because you have fewer items or leaving room for you to merge into their lane. In these seemingly small ways (and at the risk of sounding too "hippy-dippy") they are literally spreading kindness, joy, and yes -- love.

So okay, admittedly my definition of "producing love" is no less blush-worthy to an average high schooler than the standard definition of "making love." But I wonder what could be gained if, as a culture, we understood sex as a means of producing love and joy rather than a sinful and often destructive act that ruins young women and promotes young men to a false god-like status.

People have sex. Teens have sex. We can't change that. But we can change our cultural definition of what having sex is and should be. It should produce joy. It should produce love. If it does not, it's possible what we're doing isn't sex at all.