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  • Writer's pictureGINA

Post #14 - Sexual Assault Awareness Month


Welcome back! It’s been a couple of months since I last wrote for this blog. I promise it’s all for good reason though… exciting things are coming soon!!

April is sexual assault awareness month; it seemed fitting for me to make my return on here this month, because I think it’s really important, we talk about this month and everything that comes with it. Because April can be hard. At least I know I have found it hard before.

They say ‘ignorance is bliss’, and during sexual assault awareness month, the news and social media can highlight once again the hard truths about the society we live in. Social media, or at least mine, can be filled with post after post about sexual assault, stories surrounding it, depressing statistics and traumatised individuals using their platform to talk. This, whilst being powerful, can also be overwhelming because it can bring up things, events, conversations and memories which maybe you didn’t ever want to think about ever again. The stuff you locked away in a box and threw away the key too. Except April can open that box again. And it can be depressing and demoralising to read about the countless individuals who have been subjected to assault. In short, it’s draining. So, today I wanted to come to you with a more positive message.

I want to talk to you about hope. Which whilst it is incredibly powerful, can also sometimes feel unrealistic and out of reach. There are times when I think that anyone who is hopeful about the world has some dreamy and overly romanticised view of it. Because the world at the moment is a scary and often disheartening place. It is far easier to be cynical about the world, its politics, its male population, its seemingly unsolvable problems and useless leaders than to be hopeful about it. I often lack faith for anything to actually change. So it can make being hopeful seem far-fetched and naive.

Being hopeful after being assaulted is hard. Your view of humanity changes. Your trust in the goodness of humans flies out of the window. You lose faith in the system when the system does nothing to protect you or give you any sense of justice. You realise once and for all, how little so many politicians care about you. You realise that far too often people act without any regard for your own wellbeing. You, or at least I did, start to expect to be mistreated, so struggle to trust people, and men in particular.

But in a lighter less disheartened moment I can see that there is reason to be hopeful, or at least we have to be. Because if we aren’t then we would be all eternally depressed and I think I would rather try and be hopeful, and maybe be a fool for it, than think too much about how messed up the world is.

Recently, at university I have taken a module in ‘race and colonialism’. It’s an eye-opening course; but most of the time when I leave my tutorial, I feel like the entire world is broken on such a systemic level, that there is relatively little that can be done to bring about actual change. When it comes to women’s’ safety I am often left with a similar feeling, because of the chilling normality of assault and the regularity with which it occurs. However, in my last tutorial of the semester, the tutor covered this week’s topic from which I mostly took “white men have once again caused irreparable damage to the world, and we will forever be living with the consequences of it. Oh, and on top of that, to add some spice to the global situation, the world is burning and we’re heading at full throttle pace towards a climate catastrophe”. But then he started to explain why he was hopeful about the state of the world, because, according to him, the system causing the suffering is on the verge of collapse.

More and more people who have been subjected to sexual assault are speaking out. It’s simultaneously powerful, as it is petrifying and heart breaking to watch. Sexual assault awareness month highlights that. But one by one, these men are being publicly shamed for their behaviour. Whilst justice, for most does not always happen, at least those in the public eye are losing jobs and contracts and being held somewhat accountable. Some are even being locked away; Harvey Weinstein is evidence of that. 20 years ago, that was unthinkable. Prince Andrew, the Queen’s grandson, being sued in court for sexual assault was inconceivable until recently. Politicians are being publicly condemned as there are ever more reports of them assaulting people. The MET police are being shamed, seemingly on a weekly basis, for their disgusting behaviour. The world is gradually, and painstakingly slowly waking up to the fact that the world is being run by men who exist at the top of the power pyramid by force, violence and oppression, on all fronts- whether that’s through sexism, racism, homophobia or xenophobia. And the system is cracking; the government’s attempts at anti protest bills is evidence of this. They’re scared. As more people empower and educate themselves, their position of power starts to be jeopardised.

There are more men talking about these issues. They’re finally engaging in the conversation; not enough of them, but more than before. Sure, they have a long way to go. We all do, on so many of these issues. But the more people talk and speak out, the faster this change will happen. Sleazy politicians will be rooted out. And hopefully replaced with a new generation of more diverse honest individuals. People are slowly starting to realise that a discussion of male mental health needs to take place, in order to tackle these issues. Toxic masculinity is being pointed out more frequently. We are leaning that importance of education to tackle racial, homophobic and sexist prejudices. Universities are being held accountable for their protection of sexual predators. And whilst we are all still waiting for ACTUAL change to happen on these fronts, the fact that a conversation is even taking place is progress, because 10 years ago this conversation was taking a different form or not happening.

So, whilst this conversation will certainly not solve everything, it won’t for example solve your trauma or mean that everyone is held accountable for their actions, it is a start. And I would rather celebrate this baby step that society has taken than to lament that it hasn’t gone further yet, because if I did that, I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed each morning.

So, this April, look after yourself, get off social media if it gets too much, but remember that however painful and heart-breaking it is to read of yet another individual who has been mistreated, the fact that you’re reading about it, as warped as it might sound, is progress. We are talking, healing, breaking down barriers, taboos and glass ceilings. But most of all we are coming together which is a powerful force to be reckoned with.

All my love as ever,

Your GINA sister


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