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Listening to the #MeToo special on @TheCurrentCBC and I have some QUESTIONS about Neil Boyd's analysis on the "well, aren't we conflating some bad behaviour things with sexual assault?" (Aziz Ansari was the example used).
The problem isn't that people don't know how to distinguish between different kinds of behaviours across the wide spectrum of what we might call sexual misconduct. The problem is that the mechanisms we have to deal with violence themselves do a poor job of addressing nuance.
We want people to make use of the criminal justice system because we consider it the "correct" way to address sexual violence, but then the same people get mad about the fact that the broadest category in the Canadian Criminal Code includes both groping and rape, for instance.
We have almost no proper social or economic infrastructure to deal with sexual assault outside of the carceral system, so when "please stop that" fails, or HR refuses to do anything, it's not bizarre that people might report what some consider "lesser" incidents to the police.
And it's not like the criminal justice system is going to be able to provide the nuance that critics are asking for. The range of options are actually pretty limited: acquittal, peace bonds, probation, time served, a short sentence, a long sentence.
The range of transformative or restorative justice programs are limited, and many require that you go through the criminal justice system first, which I imagine doesn't do a whole lot to make people who use violence feel less angry or resentful.
I think that many folks would like a RANGE of options to deal with the RANGE of acts of sexual violence, but the precious criminal justice system that critics stan so hard for is actually part of the problem that they're railing against.
There are plenty of people who are concerned about how the carceral system (and the way its language/procedures have bled out beyond its borders) "criminalizes" seemingly "less bad" things, but they don't provide support for grassroots work that tries to imagine otherwise.
And this also goes back to what I was talking about last week, which is the problems of doing this work within a system where your options for giving people consequences is limited, especially in terms of employment. "But I lost my job!" Okay but what else...could we do...
It would be easy for people who have used violence to appropriate these arguments to deflect consequences or criticism, though. I could imagine the Jians and the Bretts of this world saying "capitalism is bad, we can't address violence by placing people in economic precarity."
And as I said, sometimes their arguments do try to mirror what is essentially a radical, anti-carceral, anti-capitalist re-imagining of how we deal with violence. It FAILS, of course. But if there's anything I can glean from them, it's that we still need better options.
Ultimately, my primary concern is for better options for survivors. OF COURSE. But if we provide better options for survivors (i.e. non-carceral options) then we also provide better options for perpetrators (whether they are "repentant" or not).
I'm just sad (wrapping this thread up before class starts!) that I have to listen to an expert on the nation's flagship morning show be so...I don't know, predictably unimaginative? (and Anne Kingston pointed out that yeah, people know the difference between different actions.)
If people have such a problem/concern with "groping" being in the same category as "rape" (within some legal systems, I mean), then I don't know what to say except for maybe y'all wanna get on board with the work that survivors/activists (esp. BIPOC) have been doing. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
On a break and thinking through how we do this work. I think some of the discussion feels like Step 1 = figure out which things meet the level of sexual assault as defined by the legal system; then proceed to Step 2 = figure out an alternative to the legal system.
I guess what I mean (messy thinking about to start here) is that I wonder if we're trying to expand the general social frame to accept more types of sexual assault AS sexual assault (and acknowledge the harm they incur) or are we trying to change the frame, or both?
Because I think it requires changing the frame. It's not just about "which specific actions/body parts constitutes assault/violence," it's about "who is able to be harmed, by whom, and why?" which is a larger ethical and political question.
And so when Neil Boyd uses the Ansari example to say "well this is not sexual assault," I wonder, are we missing the point? Is the point to re-craft a binary of "violence" and "not-violence," which is usually framed through a very specific legal language?
I feel like many are focusing only on acts between bodies (which body parts did or experienced what) rather than the social, political, and economic relations that shape how bodies interact. Who is allowed to/considered to have a body? And so on and so forth.
Without getting into the rich philosophical history of "the body" and "the subject" (esp. as thought through by BIPOC writers and activists and humans, rather than the dead white dudes whose names I never remember), I think the real question is:
who is the "me" in #MeToo?
This takes me back to Boyd saying that what Ansari did isn't sexual assault, and a general fear of the messiness we need to enter into if we expand the language we use (and the relationships we have) to include violences we cannot yet or will not yet name as "violences."
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