Out in The Real World!

by KB

Sorry to have taken a hiatus during the past month or so, but the youth4change group was working hard on finishing up our campaign and commitments for the summer. We are no longer physically at CCASA, but our minds and thoughts still linger with their teachings and philosophies.

But you might be wondering, “If they are done working, why the writing?” Well I guess I still have things to say, and I definitely want to keep my involvement in the issue. Especially now since I am back in the real world and have been smacked in the face with reality once again.

During my 4 months of work at CCASA, I have been able to develop great friendships and comrades who all share same beliefs and opinion when it comes to the fight against sexual violence in our society. This sense of belonging has been such a support system and looking back on the summer, it would have been extremely hard to work on this issue had I been working on it alone. So this is one of my dilemmas when it comes to normal life again. I have returned to school and I can’t help but feel alone when it comes to my beliefs and opinion (around social justice issues). Additionally I have come face to face with the very thing that our group has been trying to address all summer; acts of sexual harassment and objectification that are so popular in our civilized society today. The quick sexist joke here, the whistling there, and all I can do is furiously scan through my brain and tell myself, “SAY SOMETHING!” Well it definitely hasn’t been that easy.

This is the prime example of how embedded these thoughts are and how difficult it is to stand up to people who are saying these rather offensive things. I state on the record that it is not easy to speak up. So what to do?

Well, I have been able to talk to some of my closer friends about the work I’ve done over the summer and answered any questions they had. Additionally, I have had a couple of discussions/debates with a few people about the issues and I’ve discovered a wonderful thing. I can actually explain and discuss the issue in an informative and constructive manner. I think it’s important to understand that if we attack someones beliefs, we are disrespecting the individual, putting them lower than ourselves (which goes against everything that CCASA and I stand for). I have found that, when faced with a discussion around the issue where people are keen on holding onto their “myth based” beliefs, it’s far more effective to simply start asking them questions like, “Well if it was your sister, (or other family member) would you think differently?” “Do you think they would ask to be assaulted?” “Just because it happened a long time ago do you think it should just disappear and be forgotten?”

Usually the discussion is able to continue and eventually some new facts are planted and the seeds of change begin to work their magic. I can’t believe how many people truly believe sexual violence myths. I guess it goes back to my support system again. I have been able to work in an environment where myths do not exist and the issue is well understood. So being forced back into a world where people still believe that sexual assault and sexual abuse are results of a lack of prevention on the survivor’s end is undeniably baffling. I see the world in a different light now, and I can’t turn off the part of my brain that cries out, “it’s time this stopped!”

On the C-Train a couple of days ago, for example, a group of male college students were gathered in a middle section of the train and started talking about the class they’d just left. One of the guys blurted out, “God, that teacher of ours is such a sexist bitch. She’s so scared shitless that she’s in a class of men that she can fucking teach right.” All the other students nodded with agreement, and another one of the men said, “Yeah, that sexist bitch should go back to beauty school.”

Now I have to explain the manner in which these group of men where expressing their ever so pleasant opinions. I had my headphones on and was at least 4 seats ahead of them and I could hear them loud and clear. Not only that, but I decided to take a good look around to see if anyone else was hearing what I was… and, low and behold, a young mother with her child were sitting probably 2 seats away. I couldn’t believe that these guys were blurting out such offensive words in a public place with an obvious intent for others to hear. I was also amazed by how quickly they moved onto another topic (sports, drinking at Jared’s that night). I tried not to listen to any more of the discussion, but it was quite difficult since I was becoming really agitated. This is just one example of unacceptable behaviour that I have encountered in the past 3 weeks.

So what do I take away from this grim reality that we seem to live in? Well I guess I have to admit that we live in a rather screwed up world, but I also believe that people can change it. I know that over time I will be able to pick my battles with those who decide to make light of sexist comments and harassment. I still have a lot to learn but over time things will change because those who surround me in my life support my beliefs and thoughts, so as long as my support is behind me I can keep moving forward.

So how do you all feel about the people in our society who seem to be completely oblivious to how their words and actions affect others?

Thanks again for all of those who have been supporting the blog, and make sure you check out CCASA’s site (it’s on the side bar).

My next post will talk about Roman Polanski, and his attempt to run away from drug affiliated rape charges from back in 1977… I’m a film student I have to examine this :). Till next time.

-KB

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