(excerpted from an actual letter that I sent to an actual person)
I feel that you and I are on two sides of a fundamental ideological divide that is very, very important to me. I am not sure that it's something we can reconcile, because I don't anticipate changing your mind. It isn't even really my goal to do that.
I do want to explain where I am coming from, though.
I believe that survivors of sexual violence can be, and often are, legitimately harmed by flippant and/or humorous references to sexual violence. This belief is consistent with my own lived experience, with the experience of many of my closest friends, and with my understanding of feminism and human psychology.
That belief works together with my belief that in order to create and maintain effective community, it is beneficial to refrain from doing unnecessary harm to people within that community.
I believe, also, that it is my right and my responsibility to create safe spaces in my personal life for myself and for my friends. I cannot control what happens in all of the world. I can't prevent myself from being constantly exposed to racism, or homophobia, or misogyny, or Christians who want to convert me. I can, to an extent, control the kinds of things I allow into my psychic and social world. I can do my best to create spaces to in which I feel that I can let down my shields a little bit and not worry about being harmed by the people around me.
I understand that you do not necessarily agree with all of these things. I understand that you, from what I can tell, feel that refraining from making light of sexual violence amounts to "coddling" survivors. I do not expect to change your mind on that topic, but: having that particular argument voiced and defended repeatedly is incredibly upsetting to me, whether or not you believe that to be true. I know that you said you were only playing Devil's advocate, but the fact that you felt this was an OK topic to debate in that fashion automatically means that you discount the harm that debating it could do.
From my perspective, disagreeing with this fundamental idea involves believing one of two things: 1) That real harm is not done by those kind of jokes and comments. This, to me, is the same thing as saying, "I do not accept your experiences as valid - in fact, I believe that I know more about your experience than you do, and I know that you have not been harmed." 2) Even though harm is done, that harm is not your concern or responsibility.
I do not know which side of that particular line best explains your position. What I do know is that either of those positions creates space in which I feel unsafe, and which my friends and loved ones are at risk.
Question of the Day
8 hours ago