Recently, I watched this TED Talk by Tarana Burke. I watched it at a volunteer gig of mine with some at-risk youth at a workshop on consent.
I was the first person to put up my hand upon completion of the video, and it was to say that I had a HUGE problem with Ms. Burke’s message about ending sexual violence. Cue awkward pause, and one of the presenters finally managing to stammer out, “Really? Why…?
(Yes, I may have been going for the dramatic entrance here… it’s just what I do)
I responded that I absolutely did not want an end to sexual violence. No one wanted an end to sexual violence (pause for dramatic effect). People, including myself, want an end to non-consensual sexual violence.
Lots of people like rough sex.
Lots of people enjoy BDSM, from the mildest to the most hardcore and taboo activities.
These are forms of sexual violence. I know people who use BDSM and consensual non-consent as a way to work through past sexual trauma.
A brief moment after my monologue (which was much longer and contained many more thoughts), one of the presenters suggested that Ms. Burke meant non-consensual sexual violence and that the watcher was to infer that from her talk.
I agree. Wholeheartedly.
Perhaps it is because I am a bit pedantic, but I think it is important to specify that one means non-consensual sexual violence and not just sexual violence. I can see well-meaning groups working towards a world without sexual violence and in the process criminalizing consensual activities between adults and further traumatizing some people.
Just my thoughts. I do think we need to work towards a world without sexual assault. I think we need to empower people, men and women, to be able to say and respect the word no. But eradicating sexual violence is not the way.