Wednesday, April 16th, 2008 • 2 Comments on Join the Fight
A few years ago, I wrote a post called Life Lessons Learned the Hard Way. In it, I tried to describe that moment of awareness for a young girl who is suddenly realizing—in a very frightening way—that rape can happen at the hands of the cute, popular boy. It’s a subject that I come back to time and again—this idea that girls (and women) endure things because we’ve been taught we’re supposed to endure them. Even now, even in 2008.
Heather Corinna has been going through a bit of a firestorm recently over a T-shirt for the I Was Raped project. Not that she can’t handle it—she’s been through the fire before because she deals with sexuality in a straightforward, down-to-earth, honest way. She runs the popular—and much needed—Scarleteen. She has also written a terrific teen sexuality guide called S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-To-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College, which even most adults could learn a thing or two from. Still, this latest controversy leaves a bad taste in my mouth because I can’t imagine doing what Heather does, day in and day out, and then being taken to task by using my own experiences against me.
Something Heather wrote today made me want to share it with everyone who reads my blog—especially parents of daughters. This part, in particular, struck a nerve with me:
However, even for plenty of people who know something about sex, who are smart and relatively informed, figuring out what sex is and what rape is aren’t so easy, particularly when you’re raised female. Even if we look at classical literature – much of Greek mythology, all sorts of folktales, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, the Bronte Sisters, you name it, and this was the kind of reading I did as a kid — it doesn’t take a genius to notice that usually, when rape happens, it’s often presented as sex or, at best, “sex by force.” It’s rarely, if ever, called rape. In that literature, in religion, in common parlance, in romance novels, in films, in family gossip young women have for eons been taught, more than not, that we are passive sexually, that sex for us is something a person “takes” or we “give” (rather than as something shared), and that often enough our sexual awakening is supposed to be about men deciding to indoctrinate us.
(Please read the rest of Heather’s post here.)
I have been keeping up with Heather for at least ten years and I admire the hell out of her. She puts herself out there, sharing her life and the trauma she has endured, all in the name of fighting for what’s right, giving a voice to the silenced and providing answers when others shrug in apathy. It is a thankless job, as far as I can tell.
Now that tax time is behind us and as you’re contemplating charitable contributions for 2008, consider kicking some money Heather’s way. There are a number of ways you can help her keep fighting the good fight:
—Donate directly to Scarleteen.
—If you are a survivor of sexual assault, buy an I Was Raped T-shirt.
—Buy Heather’s book, S.E.X., for the teenagers in your life—or your local public library.
—If you enjoy fine art photography, particularly that which explores gender and body imagery or simply makes you look at life a little differently, purchase a Femmerotic membership, Heather’s personal website.
Also, check out Heather’s All Girl Army and share it with the young women in your life.
Thanks, Heather, for all that you do. I know I’ve said it before, but you rock.