“I want Chris Brown to beat me up!!” – The Horrors of Abuse Culture

Court documents about Chris Brown’s violence against Rihanna were released last week. I’m going to warn you, this is really hard to read, and potentially triggering if you are an abuse survivor. If you can manage, I think the context is important. Full version here, but here are some pieces of it.

“Brown was driving a vehicle with Robyn F. as the front passenger on an unknown street in Los Angeles. Robyn F. picked up Brown’s cellular phone and observed a three-page text message from a woman who Brown had a previous sexual relationship with.

…When he could not force her to exit, he took his right hand and shoved her head against he passenger window of the vehicle, causing an approximate one-inch raised circular contusion.

“Robyn F. turned to face Brown and he punched her in the left eye with his right hand. He then drove away in the vehicle and continued to punch her in the face with his right hand while steering the vehicle with his left hand. The assault caused Robyn F.’s mouth to fill with blood and blood to splatter all over her clothing and the interior of the vehicle.

“Brown looked at Robyn F. and stated, ‘I’m going to beat the sh– out of you when we get home! You wait and see!’

… After Robyn F. faked the call, Brown looked at her and stated, ‘You just did the stupidest thing ever! Now I’m really going to kill you!’

…Brown continued to punch Robyn F. on her left arm and hand, causing her to suffer a contusion on her left triceps (sic) that was approximately two inches in diameter and numerous contusions on her left hand.

…“Brown did not know what she did with the key and began punching her in the face and arms. He then placed her in a head lock positioning the front of her throat between his bicep and forearm. Brown began applying pressure to Robyn F.’s left and right carotid arteries, causing her to be unable to breathe and she began to lose consciousness.

Let it be known that there are thousands upon thousands of cases like this. Having worked as an abuse crisis counselor for a few years, I’ve encountered hundreds myself. Rihanna is a celebrity, so this case is widely publicized, but it is a reality that every 9 seconds, a woman is assaulted or beaten in the US.

In the ensuing media shitfest of Chris Brown’s abuse, a lot of truly upsetting things have happened–all of which reflect abuse culture. Abuse culture is characterized by our society’s attitude of victim-blaming, lack of abuser accountability, permissiveness and general apathy to abuse, and resistance to acknowledging/addressing abuse in a realistic way.

(1) The first major wave was of people blaming Rihanna for getting beat up. Y’know, she had that mouth full of blood comin! There were many other forms of dismissing the abuse as well, including making light of it.

Continue reading

Love you.

I made a sex+ valentine for you.

Not wanting to rehash the same cynicism I’ve expressed in past years, I decided to do something different this Valentine’s Day. We often talk about relationships as a society – romantic relationships, that is. Those seem to get more glory and attention than any other kind of relationship. Namely, our relationship with ourselves….which I feel is never talked about it.

Something that has really changed for me in my latest romantic relationship is my journey toward self-awareness and self-love. Learning to love myself has made my romantic relationship infinitely more fulfilling and wonderful, as well as making day-to-day living more enjoyable. I tried to capture a piece of my personal journey for you here in this video. I hope it will uplift you, inspire you, make you think, and offer you some tips to love yourself every day.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Love you,

Laci

Slut Walk Controversy

Sup all?

I’ve been getting lots of email from folks asking for my take on the Slut Walks. I’m sure many of you have heard about these protests taking place all over the world this summer. If you haven’t, here’s the gist:

While giving a crime prevention forum a Toronto police officer proclaimed that, “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized”. In short, his comment explicitly implied that women are responsible for being raped because of the way they dress. AKA: victim blaming. AKA: slut shaming.

Let’s be clear here: no sexual harassment or rape victim is EVER responsible for the crime committed against them. Ever. Absolutely no exceptions. The blame lies with the rapist and the rapist alone. This fact is what spawned the global protests coined “Slut Walks” in which women take to the streets in any clothing they so choose to wear in order to reclaim the term “slut”.

The objectives of the Slut Walk protests are (from SlutWalk Portland):
“It’s a frightening world when one of the biggest insults you can use against a woman is her sexual freedom. SlutWalk aims to change that, as sexual freedom is absolutely a positive thing and should be treated as such. Together we are standing up as Portlanders and saying we’ve had enough of the slut shaming, enough of the victim blaming, and enough with the violence: against women, against children, against men, against people of color, against members of the LGBTQ community.

SlutWalk is equally about changing attitude around rape as it is about reclaiming slut as a positive force and embracing expressing sexuality.

How often do we hear “She was practically asking to be raped” or “Well, she shouldn’t have been dressed like that”? We aim to abolish rape culture and rape-excusing. No one ever, ever asked to be raped or assaulted. No one is ever “asking for it”, or “had it coming”.

Rape cannot be stopped by carrying your keys between your fingers or “remaining vigilant at all times”. Rape cannot be stopped by considering sex sinful or bad.

Rape can only be stopped if rapists stop raping.

The Controversy
The Slut Walks have been a divisive event amongst gender equality activists. Some say the term “slut” is better left to die than reclaimed as an empowering term. I have also read criticisms that it is just an excuse for women to bear all in public and has little to contribute in terms of the abolition of slut shaming and victim blaming. Obviously, proponents think otherwise: they assert that the term can be reclaimed for sexual empowerment and the walks will help to raise awareness about the fear and violence that globally surrounds female sexuality.

My Take
I am a strong supporter of the objectives behind the Slut Walks (obviously). Sexual violence is so astoundingly prevalent that it hurts to even think about its magnitude and effects. Let it be known: there needs to be more awareness and there needs to be change.

But something in my gut has a volatile reaction to the term slut and I personally have no desire to “reclaim” it. To be clear, I am not the type to dismiss language’s ability to be reclaimed. I, and plenty of others, have already reclaimed the word “cunt”.

What’s the difference for me between reclaiming “cunt” and reclaiming “slut”? Well, cunt refers to a body part. It was not always a shameful word, it has just become that way over time. Slut, however, does not have empowering roots in the respect of the female body and it’s amazing capacities. It has roots in sexism and misogyny. It is a quantification of what is “too much” in terms of a woman’s sexuality. The term slut explicitly implies that there are special limits for women and that, when crossed, she deserves to be degraded and put back in her place.

I see nothing to reclaim about this word. Even in reclaiming it, it still brings stigma to female sexuality. I will not call myself a slut and I do not find it empowering.

I think that a better course of action would be to help people understand that the term slut, in and of itself, is an oppressive tool. In my opinion, it would be better to assert that:

-There is nothing wrong with having lots of sex.
-The term slut is sexist and oppressive. Calling a woman a slut is sexist and oppressive.
-Women are not sluts. Men are not sluts.
-There is no “should” when it comes to consensual sex.
-Cultural shaming should not be focused on the woman/”slut” — this is victim blaming. Instead, blame those who perpetuate violence. Blame rapists.
-Let’s abandon the term “slut” and push to adopt an enlightened view of sexuality where someone’s private life and personal decisions are not stigmatized either way.

To close, just because I disagree with reclaiming “slut”, that is not to say that I don’t think the Slut Walks are harmful or pointless. I support the protests on the whole because I still think they are a good way to raise awareness around these issues. I also think that the people who are pointing fingers calling this “an excuse to bear all” are part of the problem, not the solution. The whole point is that we shouldn’t need an excuse to dress however we want. Best of luck to all those who are participating. Let’s hope you can enlighten a few.

Sorry if that was rambly. My 2 cents. What’s yours?

Abstinence Tips!

I get email:

So I’m nearly sixteen and I want to stay abstinent with my boyfriend until I’m ready and mature enough. Although sometimes it’s really hard to do so, I was wondering if you had any tips on how to stay abstinent. He respects my decision but I know he feels ready for sex so it’s hard for us to stay abstinent when we’re alone together. We love each other and don’t want this to ruin what we have :)

-M

Sounds like you’ve already taken the first step to get your needs met: talking about it. The mutual understanding that you have with your boyfriend is one of the most powerful tools you can use to keep your body in touch with your mind until you’re ready. When your ready, sex can be a creative force…not a destructive one! :)

Here are a few tips if you don’t think you are ready to introduce sex into your life/relationship yet:

1. Keep talking about your decision – keep updating each other on where you’re at with your readiness. This will also help to prepare you for a healthier sexual relationship when that time comes!

2. Keep your underwear on – underwear can be a good place to draw the line if you’re not ready.

3. Keep yourselves busy – if you don’t want to have sex, try to avoid situations that would be ideal for doing so.

4. Use alternative practices – if you’re ready for it, masturbating together is a fun, safe way to obtain sexual release without sex. In the same vein is making out, strip teasing, and massages.

5. Take a stance on drugs and alcohol in sexual situations – these can impair your judgment. Decide in advance if you want to use them.

6. Question yourself – if you’re having a hard time in the moment, remind yourself of the reasons why you feel you are not ready to have sex.

7. Pick a clear time for re-evaluation - consider choosing not to make any decisions about what you’re ready for while you’re in the moment with your boyfriend.

And don’t forget, when you decide that the time is right for you, protect yourself. :)

Other folks have tips of your own? Post them below!

Best,