Friday, April 30, 2010

Red Hook High's Men Can Stop Rape Benefit Concert shows that one great rock show can change the world.

A lot of this month's posts have been downers, I know. Talking about rape culture and the prevalence of sexual assault is never easy. But pain and difficulty aren't the whole story, as I learned on a Sunday afternoon in Dutchess County. This happened a few weeks ago, but, I wanted to save this for the final post of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention month.

On April 11, I drove down to Red Hook because my friend and fellow volunteer Amy was playing a show there. Smack in the middle of a several month tour, Amy was on the road with a band she'd joined late last year, and I wanted to go and support her, especially because I wasn't able to make the tour kick off show.

I didn't know any of the bands on the bill, not even Amy's, and I'd never been to Red Hook High or Red Hook. All I knew was that the show was supposed to be a benefit for Men Can Stop Rape, and I'd never even heard of the organization. I had no idea what to expect from this show, but decided that that day was as good as any to explore the unknown.

And I will forever be grateful that I did. I was rewarded with several fantastic bands, a cafeteria full of dancing, smiling kids, homemade baked treats, and what I can easily say was was one of the best shows I've ever been seen.

flierI arrived at Red Hook High a bit late, so I unfortunately missed event openers Red Shift. When I got there, Battle Ave Tea Club had just launched into a set of forceful, distorted finely wrought mid-tempo songs that reminded me of early Rainer Maria and The Breeders. Kingston's own Nightmares for a Week followed with their blues-tinged, '90s alt radio-friendly power pop anthems. In between songs bass player Sean Paul announced that the band would be donating a portion of their merch sales to Men Can Stop Rape, to a round of cheers and applause.

Before the headliners went on I decided to treat myself to an eagle bar from the snack table, which was run entirely by students. The door was managed by students as well. There weren't many 'grown ups' at the show at all, and I appreciated that there weren't any parents or faculty ordering the bands or audience around. There was no negative, repressive Principle Skinner-type energy, and it was really fantastic to see kids being responsible and working together on this benefit, without seeing a bunch of adults tell them what to do.

At 4:15, my friend Amy finally went onstage with final act Titus Andronicus. I'd never heard of them before Amy started playing with them, but it turns out, they're a kind of a big deal. They've been hyped by a lot of publications I do my best to avoid, like Brooklyn Vegan, Pitchfork, and Paste. But a tight set and roomful of happily frenzied, singing, dancing teenagers proved to me that the hype is well-deserved.

You can hear the beach-y, sunny sounds of early Rilo Kiley, the jammy feel of late Anniversary, and just a touch of Polyphonic Spree-like euphoria in TA's E Street Band-sized shanties and hymns. The mix might sound unlikely, but spending the bulk of the set sandwiched between a handful of students who alternated between dancing wildly and sending text messages (I'd like to think they were maybe tweeting about the show) and Battle Ave Tea Club's drummer -- all of whom seemed to know every word to each of TA's songs -- made a believer out of me. From where I stood, I could see both the band and most of the audience, and I don't think anyone in that cafeteria was able to keep still while TA was onstage.

I'll admit that I was skeptical of an anti-rape organization that focuses on men, and that I was doubtful of a bill without a single female-fronted band. But after hearing remarks from organizer Rob Rubsam and the event's intent was clear to me: Men Can Stop Rape isn't about excluding women, but about focusing on holding men responsible for their actions and bringing them into the fight against gender-based violence. During the show Rob made a brief speech about how men can be part of the solution, and how they can change and challenge ideas about masculinity.

Patrick Stickles of Titus Andronicus also spoke at length during the band's set about the show's meaning and the importance of its cause (and sort of won my heart in the process). He talked a bit about Take Back the Night, and how he'd attended in college for a friend who'd been assaulted, and he encouraged the audience to be inspired by the event to hold benefits of their own for the causes that matter to them. Most movingly, he told the young men in the audience: "Everyone's been telling me I'm a man...which is just a Y chromosome and a penis, but the rest of it is made up. Don't let anyone tell you what it means to be a respectable person."

In the context of a high school cafeteria, the revolutionary value of such ideas becomes apparent. In a world where vapid hipster bands compare bad traffic to rape (it's gonna be awhile before I get over that, deal with it) and college students publish articles about how date rape is an 'incoherent concept', the very idea that even a small group of high school kids could participate in an anti-rape benefit and hear about alternatives to hegemonic, aggressive masculinity made my heart feel really full.

Major kudos are in order for intrepid organizer Rob, who was cool enough to answer some of my questions about how he put this event together. A graduating senior and musician, Rob wanted to organize an event that would be for the students, by the students, and located within their shared, on-campus space. He also wanted the event to be for a good cause.

It started with an e-mail to Titus Andronicus: "I was figuring that I would probably get turned down," Rob writes, "but I figured that there was no harm in trying." (Words to live by, kids and future artists and activists!!) TA's enthusiasm and willingness to re-route their tour for the benefit sparked Rob to make the show happen, despite some local opposition -- the organizers of a different end-of-year student concert attempted to block the benefit to keep it from taking attention away from their show, it seems.

But with the help of his friends and fellow students, Rob convinced the school to allow the show. Says Rob: " friends, and most of the members of the Amnesty International and Interact clubs were very supportive all along, as they recognized the inherent worth of not compromising or conceding on this." It's brilliant that they held fast to their convictions, and that they were able to put on a show that turned out to be such a success. Rob says that he's proud of the event, and that he feels he did what he set out to do. In his own words:

I do believe that it led to an increased awareness of the issue of rape, and our role as a community as a part of it. And, at the very least, it probably got people thinking, both about who they were, and where their money was going. Also, it certainly has led to more Titus Andronicus fans in my school. As well, it has acted as kind of an ideological booster for me, reminding me that, indeed, people can live by their ethics, and stick to their beliefs, as I fully intend to do.

A lot of the time, it feels like there will always be men who feel entitled to women's bodies, and like there will always be people who cover up for those men. It feels like there will always be violence, victimization, and fear. But that afternoon, it hit me that there will also always be organizers like Rob, musicians like Patrick Stickles, and bands like Red Shift, Battle Ave Tea Club, Nightmares for a Week, and Titus Andronicus. There will always be activists and artists who are willing to put their time, resources, energy, and selves into making our frequently brutal world feel safer, one show at a time.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Hump Day Treat: Reader Suggestion Edition

It's the last week of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, and I'm surprisingly bummed! Just as with Women's History Month, I've appreciated the opportunity to keep this particular issue at the forefront of my thoughts, mostly because there are just so many issues to tackle. Sometimes, it's comforting to focus on one.

But anyways, today's video was inspired by fellow music journalist and Bad Idea Potluck hostess Bev!

Yesterday Bev asked, "I'd like to know your thoughts on The Raveonettes 'Boys Who Rape (Should All Be Destroyed)' from their most recent album In and Out of Control. I reviewed the album and wasn't sure what to make of it. [Read Bev's review HERE!!!] It seems straightforwardly anti-rape and yet the tone is so strange that I'm very uncomfortable with it."

Intrigued, and also unfamiliar with the song, I decided to go to the video:

Trigger warning: The lyrics, which are literally spelled out in the video, might be too graphic for some viewers. Please watch with caution.

Even though Bev explicitly mentioned the song's 'strange' tone, I wasn't quite prepared for this. The song is spacey, mellow, and it's written in a major key. It doesn't quite match the thematic content of the song, and I agree that it does cause a certain amount of discomfort.

But that might be the intent. It's possible that The Raveonettes purposely wrote poppy, girl-group sounding music for their apparently anti-rape anthem to bring attention to the way rape is white-washed and ignored. Rape is reduced to a minor crime that doesn't really matter or affect that many people (...kind of the way that girly popular music of various genres is often trivialized and made to seem like it wasn't very influential, huh, funny that), and to sing about rape so airily and peppily mimics that trivialization.

I read the song this way because I think that might sort of be the point of The Raveonettes as an artistic project. When I first heard the band several years ago, I didn't really like them. I understood their use of 'Americana' as a silly gimmick at best, and perhaps cultural appropriation at worst. (This raises the question of whether or not one can 'appropriate' the dominant culture, but I think that's an issue for another blog.)

Now I'm older, wiser, and possess a much better understanding of what it is that artists do. Now, I'm very reluctant to presume that Sharin Foo and Sune Rose Wagner 'don't really get' U.S. '50s and '60s pop culture. Instead, I gather from their work that they're fully aware of what that time period and culture mean, and that they're layering modern, current, lyrics over old school rock and roll and even Motown-y sounds with the goal of problematizing that culture, and the way it's packaged in the present age.

The Raveonettes seem to want to us to ask difficult questions about the rosy Happy Days-type nostalgia that's so big here in the states. So listen, watch, and oblige them on this hump day!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Three Examples of What NOT To Do When Writing About Sexual Assault and Rape Culture (and Two Examples of Songs That Get It Right)

Because of the whole Bad Traffic is like Rape Debacle, and then the heinous Susannah Breslin Affair (see below), I've been thinking a lot about how to write about sexual assault in a way that's truthful, but still somehow productive, and maybe even somewhat uplifting. I've been thinking about this as a blogger and zinestress, and also as a songwriter.

While I'm not into making rules for artists, I have come up with some pitfalls to avoid and some issues to consider. The following guidelines are meant to assist anyone who wants to express opinions and ideas about sexual assault while still being respectful.

1. Don't make fun of survivors and/or use the survivor community to 'prove' any kind of point.

I hate to give her any more attention, but sometimes people need to be called out. Last week I read over at Shakesville about how Susannah Breslinposted to her blog about not knowing what a trigger warning is. Breslin writes that she googled the term, and now that she knows what it is, she thinks it's a) counter-effective and b) proof that the feminist movement is no more than a motley collection of 'ugly', man-hating, 'nit'-picking, Enid Wexler types who do nothing more than blog about being "victims of a patriarchy that no longer exists." Right.

I agree with Vanessa over at feministing that Breslin was being disingenuous. She knew what a trigger warning is. She pretended to not know just so she could write something provocative in a negative, fire-in-a-crowded-theater type way.

Breslin's treatment of assault survivors and the activists who support them is despicable, and it's also poor journalism. The purpose of journalism is to communicate news and ideas to people; it's not meant to be used as a tool to ridicule people, or as in this case, to diminish peoples' traumatic experiences. (This applies to any and all forms of communication or art, so don't misuse zinewriting, songwriting, or any other medium that way, mmkay?)

I'll show you an emphasis on the history of combat!

2. Think long and hard before writing from a survivor's perspective if you aren't a survivor yourself.

The aforementioned affair got me thinking of the three-episode arc on Degrassi: The Next Generation where Paige is date raped, and is thus very upset when her bandmate Ashley unknowingly writes a song about being raped called "Poor Thing". (For those not familiar: here's a video of the band rehearsing the song).

Ashley had not been sexually assaulted, but still wanted to write a song about it, probably to raise awareness. This is admirable, but Ashley doesn't realize that she's still using her non-survivor privilege in order to write and perform this song, and doesn't seem to realize that her song might trigger a trauma survivor. It takes Paige storming out of rehearsal, and tearfully talking about her experience for the first time, to make Ashley understand that her song is a bit problematic.

So Paige confides in her bandmate, decides to work on the song, contributes to it, and performing "Poor Thing" ends up being empowering for her. Ashley ends up helping her bandmate to face the trauma she's experienced, and to start her recovery from it. But in order for all of that to take place, Ashley had to listen to Paige's story. This is key: it's awesome to want to bring attention to issues around sexual violence, but you can't do it effectively without connecting with, or at least actively listening to survivors and contemplating their words and feelings.

Stand by your band: Ashley and Paige (2nd and 3rd from left) with bandmates Hazel (right) and new member Ellie (right)

3. Don't write about clubbing and then say you're actually making a profound commentary on date rape.

Earlier this month feminist writers and bloggers over at feministing, Bitch, RH Reality Check, and elsewhere spent days dissecting Kiely Williams' "Spectacular". In the song, the narrator brags about how she got SO wasted the night before, after letting some guy buy her lots of drinks and dance with her, but how she can't even remember his name, but somehow, she does remember that she went home with him, slept with him, and that the sex was 'spectacular'.

Some feminist writers argue that because of the lyrics about inebriation (and thus, compromised ability to legitimately give consent), the song is essentially a tale of date rape. These authors have criticized Williams for glamorizing date rape through the video, which is a pretty literal representation of the song: Kiely goes to a club, Kiely gets down, Kiely really gets down, Kiely wakes up at the guy's place and then does the 'walk of shame' home. Here, watch it for yourself:

Though critical, feminist writers have also pointed out that it's inappropriate to criticize women's expressions of their sexuality. If Kiely, or any woman, wants to get falling-down drunk and go home with a person she doesn't know, well, that's fine, if she really thinks that the whole experience is 'spectacular'. And frankly, that's the impression I get from the video and the song: it has no cognizance of date rape or consent issues; it's a song about partying.

But Williams has not defended her song as a club hit or party jam. She hasn't defended her right to casual sexual encounters. Instead, she's responded to feminist criticisms by claiming that the song isn't intended to glamorize such behavior, but to expose the truth of date rape and the horrors of hook-up culture.

The thing is, based on the video and the tone of the song, I don't buy it. As I understand it, Williams is appropriating feminist ideas to justify the song and video's objectionable content. She's using the discourse on date rape to try and pass off her work as social commentary, and I find it incredibly offensive. So, final tip: don't write about sex, and then say you're writing about rape because you're not willing to defend your sexuality and sexual experiences. It's an insult to those of us who do own our sexuality, and those of us who are survivors.

There are definitely songwriters who have gotten it right though. All we can do about rape culture is resist it, from whatever place we happen to be coming from, and by being conscientious of other people and their feelings. I'm ending this post with two examples of exactly that.

Trigger warning: Amos' song isn't that graphic, but it is harrowing and intense. Please watch with caution.

This song is intense in a different way, it's pretty intensely enraged, and rightfully so. Props to the men of Fugazi for writing a song about rape culture, and how pervasive it is, from the perspective of men.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Hump day Treat, Sexual Assault Awareness Edition

Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month continues here in the U.S., and here at Rock and Single Girl, despite unpleasant distractions from beverage companies. Let's turn our attention back to the issue of rape and rape culture with a song that seems to be criminally underknown: "Johnny Hit and Run Pauline", by X.

One of the band's classics, the song details a day in the life of a rapist who might also be a sex and drug addict. It compares the act of non-consensual sex to the unequivocally criminal act of mowing a person down with a car (kudos to the songwriters there!). But according to a documentary I saw ages ago, the band stopped playing the song at shows, because they didn't think their audiences understood that they were singing against rape, not in support of it.

But we understand the song, so we can listen and raise our fists in resistance on this hump day.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Choice of a New Generation. (Of punks feminist artists and activists.)

As I mentioned in my last past, my beloved Willie Mae Rock Camp has applied for a $50,000 grant from from Pepsi, the soft drink behemoth. The corporation has recently launched its Pepsi Refresh Project, and WMRC has chosen to particpate.

Really? I'll believe it when I see it.

When I first started getting e-mails and notifications from camp and my fellow volunteers, I was skeptical -- this is an occupational hazard of being a feminist punk. I'm wary of all and any corporations, particularly when they start handing out money. I'm not really feeling how the project is more or less a competition, which pits causes against each other.

Something about a corporate conglomerate inviting and encouraging people to do charitable work feels a little "Won't Get Fooled Again" to me -- as in, "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss." I can't help but be suspicious that a company that produces a drink that is so bad for human health and so bad for the environment is encouraging people to do volunteer and non-profit work for public health and the environment. What does Pepsi have to gain from financing such projects? Or projects in their arts and culture, food and shelter, neighborhoods, and education categories?

Luckily, I'm not alone in my skepticism. Fellow volunteer and fellow artist and musician Maggie was brave enough to send an e-mail over WMRC's volunteer listserve asking if anyone else is feeling ambivalent about this.

Selling out? Ch'yeah, right -- and monkeys might fly out my butt!

The response's to Maggie's e-mail that I've seen have made me feel a little better about the idea of WMRC getting money from Pepsi -- but only a little. I think the main thing, as another volunteer pointed out, is that this money is a donation, not some sort of sponsorship deal. So Rock Camp would get this money free and clear. The donation would not enable Pepsi to direct or alter the way camp runs, or even dictate how the money would be spent. Accepting the grant would not require Camp to further support Pepsi, purchase more Pepsi products, or anything like that.

So this brings us back to the question of what the corporation would get out of this. Well, first, as Maggie pointed out, Pepsi is getting access to some personal information, including e-mails, which they can sell for a great deal of money at a later date. They also get a tax write-off for their donations, though as another fellow volunteer pointed out, so would any organization or individual who makes any sort of donation.

But what hasn't come up in these conversations is that Pepsi has a chance to get something more important and way more priceless than a tax break or some e-mail lists. Pepsi has a chance to get a good reputation, which bothers me more than anything else.

With this campaign, Pepsi has an opportunity to make itself seem like a responsible corporation. But let's be clear: there's absolutely nothing responsible about pushing liquid sugar in a can or plastic bottle on people.

There's also nothing responsible about the amount of water used to make soda. Water rights issues aren't huge in the U.S., and I only know about this because my dear friend Jackie has done research on Coca Cola and water, and my classmate Michelle has done (award-winning!) research on water rights and Bolivian indigenous communities. So I'm not sure that all my fellow volunteers are aware that it takes something like 4 liters of water to make a single liter of soda, and that soda companies get that water by taking it away from impoverished and desperate people in the 'Third' world.

Will not taking money from Pepsi change this? No, it won't. But my point is that I don't want people forgetting any of this. I don't want any of us to be fooled, or to think for even a second, "Well, I guess Pepsi isn't so bad. Because corporations -- it's definitely not just Pepsi -- usually are that bad. For them to create whatever useless product they create, something else has to get destroyed.

All of that said, it might sound contradictory, or even hypocritical of me to continue to support this campaign by voting daily for WMRC. Willie Mae's executive board, a group of fierce, talented, responsible women, is okay with this campaign, and I have to trust them. Those women shoulder the responsibility of running and financing camp, and so I support what they decide will make their job easier and what will make camp even better.

What really enables me to vote every morning is knowing myself, and knowing my position on all of this. Pepsi might get my e-mail address and access to my facebook page -- but they will never get my respect, my trust, or even my three bucks for a bottle of soda. And I know that my fellow volunteers will be able to dig that, or at least one of them will. Very special thanks to Maggie for e-mailing with me about this and inspiring this post!

The reality is that we all live and work in a world controlled by corporations and media. And at some point, every single one of us punk, feminist, pro-diy, anti-mainstream, pro-culture, anti-consumerist activists, artists, and resisters is going to face an issue like this. All of us are going to have our principles tested, our beliefs challenged, our buttons pushed for whatever cause it is that we support. And all of us, as individuals are going to have to sort out our feelings and decide how to respond. So these are my feelings, and this is how I respond:

Bite me, corporate 'charity'!

p.s. special thanks to photobucket user Starriedreamer for unknowingly 'donating' screen caps.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

If it doesn't conflict with your politics...

I'm guessing that most of my (wonderful!) readers are pretty used to how I often shamelessly promote Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls. But this time, it's a little different.

Rock Camp is hooked up with a certain corporate beverage giant's new campaign to "refresh everything". And while most of my fellow volunteers have been rocking the vote, and posting everywhere, some of us are a bit unnerved at the prospect of accepting money from this particular corporation, myself included.

Despite my reservations, I choose to support Rock Camp, and its decision to participate in this whole thing. I unfortunately don't have time to write out my feelings about this right now, so for now I'll just post the widget. If you all are comfortable with it, please vote for Willie Mae! Corporations suck but 50K to help get our year-round, after-school band mentoring program off the ground most certainly does not suck!

p.s. Look for a more in-depth post on this issue sometime next week. (I know, you're all just dying to read it, right?)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hump Day Treat, Spring-y Weather Finally! Edition

So, uh, this hump day treat is super-late because, well, it's really, really nice out. And that's not entirely usual for this town, being sandwiched between a mountain range and a massive lake and all. So, I've been out.

This spring-y, warm, sunny weather reminds of summer in my hometown, and summer in my hometown inevitably makes me wanna listen to my faves, Brooklyn's own Zombie Dogs. I'm excited to report that I came inside a little while ago, turned on the computer, and found this great video of them at the Girl Cave. I don't know what this Girl Cave is, but it sounds awesome. (Despite also sounding like a creepy double entendre.) So enjoy some ZD classics, like "Psycho Gyno", "Flip the Bird", and "Not Your Babe" on this temperate hump day!

Also: Zombie Dogs on Myspace Not gonna lie, I check this for updates like every other nanosecond.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Apparently it's Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.

It took me a week to decide if I should publish this blog. Now that I've decided to do so, I can only hope that it will have a positive impact.

Recently I logged in at the forlorn networking site known popularly as myspace so I could answer a message from my homegirl Alma. We were trying to make plans to hang out while I was home for Easter.

As anyone who's still on myspace knows, the website now features a facebook-like 'newsfeed' type thing, where your friends statuses (statii?) are listed. It's right in front of you when your login goes through, so it's hard to miss.

That particular day, at the very top of my page, was a status update from a pretty-well respected, but not that well-known West Coast band that I had friended only because my favorite guitarist had joined them after his band broke up. The first line of the status was: "NYC traffic is raping my soul."

The words made my blood burn. Do I have to explain why it made me so angry? Okay, fine, I will: I am sick to fucking DEATH of living in a culture where it's perfectly fine to joke about rape, where rape is a casual metaphor, where people throw around the word rape like it's not a serious crime and a major social problem, not to mention a weapon used to destroy individuals and communities. I am sick of watching as rape victims' credibility is questioned, sick of watching as survivors who come forward are attacked because they don't want to be silenced anymore. I am sick of living in a world that is so goddamn full of rape that I can never get away from it.

So sick of it -- and so infuriated that an allegedly progressive, forward thinking, hip punk artist would say something so gross -- that I decided to say something. Without thinking about it too much, I typed: "rape jokes = not funny, ever" and clicked 'comment'.

If only that were the end of it. The band responded by saying "good thing that wasn't a rape joke." And then some jerk commented "hahahah amazing". At this point I was livid, so I responded that sure, maybe it wasn't exactly a joke, but that like a joke, it made light of rape, which is completely unacceptable. I told the band to check their privilege and recognize how inappropriate their language was.

I'm going to take a moment to explain again, because no matter what these dudes might think, this is important: it is not ever appropriate to to compare something as petty as traffic to being sexually assaulted -- even New York City traffic, which I have a lot of experience with, in case you were wondering. It is not ever okay to make rape seem trivial or insignificant; sexual assault is the ultimate breach and disrespect of a person's boundaries, and it leaves a person's borders open and vulnerable, and that person's sense of self and security all confused and leaked out. Rape destroys.

I'm sure that some people would think that I'm overreacting here. I'm not going to argue with this, or waste my time trying to 'prove' the fact that language is a means of domination and a critical means of cultural shaping and production. If you don't believe me, go read some Bourdieu.

Some people might also think that my response is invalid because it's just an expression, everyone says things like that, blah blah blah. Uh, no. Not everyone says things like that. I do not use the word rape that way. My friends do not use the word rape that way. My classmates and colleagues do not use the word rape that way. My girl gang underground lady punk heroines do not use the word rape that way. My parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and other extended family do not use the word rape that way. The only people who people who talk about sexual assault that way are people who are privileged enough to have never been assaulted.

I'm going to take a second here to make a snarky sidenote, which I feel I can do because a) I haven't named the band and b) I rarely get snarky in this blog. The band in question? Is not really progressive or hip or even artistic. They're just another example of this bullshit Vice-style hipster poseur thing that's been going on for awhile. They pretend to have something to say but they really just spend a lot of time on their hair. They are, as Max Bemis has so perfectly put it, little more than vacuous soldiers of the thrift store Gestapo.

And these jerks have effectively reminded me, through this stupid and sordid little internet-based ordeal, that rape and sexual assault are a problem in our local art and music communities. I'm lucky to say that I've never felt anything but perfectly safe at shows in my hometown, and I've never met anyone who made me feel uncomfortable. But that doesn't mean that assault doesn't happen. We can't afford to pretend that it doesn't happen in our communities, we have to be vocal about this problem and we have to face it, head-on.

But I guess that's the other thing that this band and their unseemly comment reminded me of -- that we can and must speak up about this issue. What I did wasn't that big a deal, it was just a comment on some website...but at the same time, it was still me, saying what I felt, and refusing to be silent. If you feel unsafe or insecure, if you're at a show or in a community space of any kind and someone says or does something that upsets you, you can say something. Even something as simple as, "Hey, that's not cool." It's not about starting fights or creating a negative situation; it's about pointing out when people say or do something that they might not realize is harmful.

It sucks to think that we have to go around policing people's behavior, and it sucks to think that we have to go around telling people that they shouldn't joke about rape (or other types of violence and oppression). People should already know that, right? But not everyone does, so it's our responsibility to say it. It's our responsibility to break the tradition of silence if we want to build communities that are truly safe.