Dudes and sexual violence

February 23, 2012 § 3 Comments

Hint: it’s not what you think.

Image by Morgan Carpenter via Dude Magazine

For the best part of the last year, a friend of mine, Max Attitude, has been working on Dude Magazine. Dude is a magazine (mostly) by and for transmasculine folks and those that love them, hang with them, and are part of that community or category. You can read what they’re about in their own words here.

Given that I fall into the “love them” and “hang with them” categories, I have been enamoured by Dude from the start. I am particularly into the fact that Dude is very cool about issues of gender identity – the mag represents a bunch of different iterations of transmasculinity, and a bunch of different bodies and stages of transition. I particularly enjoyed a recent interview with Alix Iron, who IDs, amongst other things, as trans-ish. Cute.

So, given said love, I follow the Dude blog. I opened a post in my email inbox not quite a week ago, and read something which I’m going to repost at length here:

Stand up against sexual violence in our communities

***trigger warning – this post is about sexual violence***

This is Jez Pez, the Editor of DUDE. This week we were informed that a rapist was possibly going to attend our Brisbane launch party. It is something I want to talk about and something I think we should all be talking about. Sexual violence or any form of violence is completely unacceptable, but unfortunately it is so heartbreakingly common.

Once we were notified we were in a position to take responsibility and accountability as event organisers, as feminists, as male identified people and as community members. I want to express sincerest thanks for being notified so that we could work to make our event safe for everyone and also take action in the community.

It was important to me and to the other people I worked with to address this matter, that  we first and foremost respected the survivor/s, without question. Something which I think the legal and judicial systems fail to do. Something which I think society often fails to do.

Another reason why I am posting this statement is to advocate against sexual violence and domestic violence in our communities. It happens, it is happening now and it isn’t OK. And nobody is exempt from this. It hurts people and destroys lives and it hurts communities.

I’m going to post some links below. Some are fact sheets on sexual assault and some are radical and anarchic community responses to sexual assault, including workshop kits about consent. Please take the time to read, share and generate discussion in your community. This shit can’t be swept under the rug.

Stand up against rape, against rape culture and against slut shaming.

You can access the links Jez mentions by going to the original post.

Dude has always seemed to me to have feminist sensibility. I’m into ‘stand up against sexual violence’ and I think it’s good that this post was made.

At the end of the post though, I was left with some really big questions.

I wondered about what the transmale community creating and supporting Dude thinks about why and/or how sexual assault is a problem, how it affects the transmale community in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and anywhere else, what the effects of the violence are, and how transmasculinity affects experiences of assault and vice versa (real and threatened, perpetrated and perpetrator).

I ask these questions because I think that talking about sexual assault in our communities is useful when it addresses the specificities of experience in that community.

I think it is important not just to discuss the fact that sexual assault is bad, or what it is, but what it does. How is sexual assault generative, what does it create or destroy for people?

I think this is an important question for different queer and especially sex-radical communities (which aren’t always the same thing obviously, but I think it is fair to say there is crossover). How do questions of consent/ assault and masculinity/ and of transmasculinity interrelate?

This is hard stuff to answer and to say. I’m not suggesting Jez’s post should or could have covered all of this, but I would love to see these (and other) questions begin to be answered at some point. My reason is that as a feminist, I think that if an answer to these questions is something like “sexual assault dehumanises survivors,” then we can start to get a handle on why it is so fucking important.

To try to answer some of my own questions here: one result of sexual violence that I’ve seen and that has affected my life, is the diminishing of capacity to engage with others. I’ve also seen sexual assault set up a constant fear of disapproval and rejection. One quite tangible result of this was difficulties in accessing social opportunities and trusting relationships, which is (always already) gendered territory anyway.

These questions are painful, and I don’t have any obvious answers, but I think maybe being in a position to ask them is a hopeful place to be.


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