Saying the f-word

Sam Godfrey
March 28, 2013
This article was published more than 2 years ago.
Est. Reading Time: 2 minutes

While narcissistically perusing The Silhouette last week, I happened upon the front-page teaser for an Opinions article, which read, “Recent Steubenville controversy has reopened dialogue on rape culture.”

I laughed.

Unless I’m mistaken, that dialogue hadn’t been closed. I found this particularly illustrative of the way feminist discussion is ignored by most.

Perhaps this is due in part to the word “feminism” itself having somewhat unsavory associations for many people. I’ve seen people’s faces contort, or their eyes roll, if someone around them utters this particular F-word. Frankly, this shocks and annoys me.

Feminisms of all kinds are dedicated to so much more than burning bras, and certainly contribute to more male-oriented subjects than they’re given credit for. It’s about calling out society on systematic injustices. It’s about power and privilege being used to help, not to hinder.

It’s about treating people the way they should be treated.

Should that be considered so radical?

Now I don’t want to come off as bitter, because I’m not; I like that this conversation is happening on a larger scale. That’s really kind of my point.

I like that people are as aghast as I am about Steubenville. I’ve shaken my head a little at the fact that it took this long, or this blatant an example, to have this many people engage in the dialogue, but I’m pleased that it’s happened. Good conversational space is key, and this event has really opened it up to a lot more people. I haven’t figured out if it’s just the sheer popularity, or some particular aspect of the atrocity, or a combination of those (and some luck), but people seem to be comfortable talking about it.

It reminds me of the way 50 Shades of Grey made BDSM a topic of public discussion, but that’s tangential.

Which is great. But again, for those of us who had been engaging in it all along, it can be a little tiring to wait for something to rouse the general public into awareness. As said, good conversational space is key, so I’ve been thinking a lot about how to create this space.

Blogger/Twitter-user Hilary Bowman-Smart figured out a really neat way to get people talking, using dark humour to engage people. The tag #safetytipsforladies is a scathing collection of tweets offering responsible women advice on how they can avoid being raped. Some of my favourites include:

Remove your vagina. Carry it in your purse

Don’t trust strange men but don’t NOT trust strange men - that’s sexist and may anger them.

Turn just right during a solar eclipse and slip sideways into a parallel dimension where people value consent.

Stop being a woman in public.

(Search #safetytipsforladies for more sage counsel.)

To get talking with my friends, it’s sometimes as simple as linking them to an interesting article (or Twitter feed), inviting them to hear a guest speaker talk about intersectionality or starting a conversation with “So I was thinking about this earlier…”

I haven’t quite yet figured out how to get beyond my circle of friends and acquaintances, but maybe this article is a start.


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