More Brilliant Breakfasts
The first details the LBGT-friendly commitments of the Wells Fargo bankan enterprise I already like because of its historical ties to Wells College, where I once taught. The second, unbelievably brave not just in its candor but in its subtle, careful stance on an inflammatory topic, connects a recent and appallingly misogynist travesty of justice to a bleak moment in the blogger's own past. B@B manages to emphasize the ongoing scale and scandal of rape, sexual violence, and sexual assault in the world and also to explain the reasons why it might not always be helpful for all unwanted sexual encounters to be defined as rapes or assaultsespecially in cases where outsiders insist on a definition that the person who lived the experience doesn't agree with or assent to. This same point, difficult but important, is thoughtfully ventured by Wendy Brown and Janet Halley in their anthology Left Legalism/Left Critique (Duke UP, 2002), one of many areas pinpointed by their book where current trends in law, especially rights-based and identitarian discourses, may actually work against the people whom these laws mean to empower or protect. A good read.
When I started work this fall, my college provided all of its incoming faculty with a statistical report that suggested that sexual assaults on this campus numbered in the low single digits last year, and in many years previous. I have no idea who devised this figure or what kind of research contributed to it, but it's hard not to be flummoxed, even incensed, by this kind of accounting. 2,000 college students living, partying, drinking, etc., in a cloistered campus for nine months, and sexual assault happens less than ten times? Um, no. In terms of how many are reported, much less prosecuted, I might buy that figure, but I'm not sure whom it helps to keep equating officially recorded cases with actual incidence. The cultural conversation about rape and sexual assault must be maintained, and judicial monstrosities like what's happening to the teenaged girl in Oregon need to be broadcast and protested. But as B&B reminds me and the rest of her readers, it's also important to leave room for everyone to assign their own names and terms to their own sexual experiences and identities, even the ones that are most tempting to name on someone else's behalf, even with the soundest of intentions. Thanks, B@B, for giving such fresh, rigorous, and honest airspace to these invaluable ideas!
Labels: Blog Buddies