NO! The Rape Documentary and #LoveWITHAccountability creator Aishah Shahidah Simmons is the Spotlight Feature in Hematopoeisis Press, Issue 4 - Perricardium.Read More
On April 29, 2018, The Last Sip creator and host Imara Jones and guests Scott Snyder (Council on Foreign Relations), Dr. Treva B. Lindsey (The Ohio State University), Dr. Carolyn West (University of Washington), and Aishah Shahidah Simmons (#LoveWITHAccountability) speak on the two Koreas meeting, Black women's role in the #BillCosby conviction, the impact of rape on Black cis & trans women, & the survivor healing journey. The Last Sip airs every Sunday morning on Free Speech TV.Read More
Aishah Shahidah Simmons weighs in on Trump and violence against women in the New York Times:
The offensive video of Donald Trump talking with Billy Bush and other men is the latest reminder that the work being done to end violence against women is never-ending. These vulgar and egregious conversations about women happen regularly throughout this country: What’s unique is that Trump and Bush were caught on tape.
But despite the overwhelmingly negative response, and the immense progress women have made over the past 40 years, the threat of violence against women is still a very serious problem in this country.
While many have jumped to condemn Trump, others have sought to dismiss his comments as mere "locker room talk" or, even more disturbingly, just "what happens when alpha personalities are in the same presence." These excuses illustrate how this violence is perpetuated when powerful men are not held accountable for it.
When high-profile white men assert what they see as their right to do what they want to women, it sanctions all men to do the same. This type of behavior becomes normal, excused as a “boys will be boys” phenomenon. It transcends race and culture because it’s about dominance over women, but more often than not, it is the most marginalized women who suffer the most. Men may not be able to degrade a famous actress to her face, but if they feel free to speak in such vulgar terms about her in private, imagine what they might feel they could say or do to another woman without the same visibility. Or, more broadly, imagine if Trump's defense of "locker room" language is accepted by judges or those who end up on the jury of a sexual assault case.
This "locker room" talk has trickle-down consequences.
Not only do attempts to brush off Trump's comments minimize the everyday experiences of survivors of sexual harassment and sexual assault, but it buries our fight under an extremely dangerous excuse — that this is just how the powerful talk.
Wealth, privilege and power are never excuses for any type of violence, against women or otherwise.
Over two years ago Dylan Farrow wrote a powerful open letter about her Academy Award-winning prolific filmmaker father Wood Allen. Many apologists for Nate Parker and Jean Celestin point to the fact that he, Woody Allen, is still making films as a celebrated auteur. Like Nate Parker wasn’t convicted of rape, Woody Allen wasn’t ever convicted for child molestation.
Does that mean that Nate Parker didn’t participate in a gang rape with Jean Celestin in 1999? Does that mean Woody Allen didn’t molest his biological daughter and marry the step daughter he helped to raise?
Yes, clearly racism and white supremacy work in favor of white celebrities who are accused of crimes against women and children. Without question Black celebrities are scrutinized in ways that white celebrities are not.
What is the goal? Is the goal that Black men should be afforded the same “rights” to (allegedly) rape, molest, and murder women and children with impunity. Is that what equality looks like?
Appreciating this powerful writing from Molly Boeder Harris of The Breathe Network
Appreciating this powerful writing from Molly Boeder Harris of The Breathe Network:
“Surviving? Resilience? Sometimes I think it’s just a matter of luck. Or a matter of timing. Or a matter of being understood and symptoms being seen for what they are - natural responses to overwhelming and ongoing mind, body and soul terror. We somehow hang on for an extra hour, and someone comes through like a miracle reminding us to stay. Or we are just met with the best resources possible in the beginning and that gives us a foundation to start from - so that when things get shitty, five years later or 15 years later, we have something inside we can draw from to sustain us through the worst - again and again. Or we are encircled by people who believe and support and buffer us against all the external bullshit that may come our way of we speak out. But damn it is exhausting to still feel so much and there is so much shame in not being "over it” in a culture that wants a happy ending. And then there is this culture, and all of the intricacies of the dynamics surrounding our abuse, our disclosure, our perpetrator, our family and community, all the ways people do and don’t show up for us over the years. And then the ways that the work of the movement keeps the wounds open, or the ways that for others, denying survivorhood may keep the wound open…and everything in between. It seems to me that resilience is like a constellation that comes together around us, like we are a new burning star at the center of something really huge and yet we become part of a web of stars - interconnected to something larger that gives us stability and structure and freedom to move, no timelines that can be measured, just ongoing showing up and presence - versus the isolation, the black hole, the clock ticking on how long you get to be sad and angry and triggered and afraid that comes with being raped in this culture. The clock that ticks so loud and the timeline that feels so impossible that it just doesn’t seem worth it. It’s so hard and I don’t think we’ve gotten really real about it still. I think the resilience comes and grows with practice, but also, really effing hard practice, like water we have to drink daily survive…and when we stop practicing we notice pretty quickly. And the practice requires our people are also onboard with our need to practice and will hang around when shit gets rocky - which it always does and will as we face more of life. I think of all the privileges I have had in my life and my healing - all the kinds of care, past and present, that I have accessed and yet I still have phases of intense struggle and how isolating and shaming it can feel. I am cautiously optimistic that our country/globe is starting to understand what trauma does to our nervous systems, to our brains, to our organs, to our muscles and our breath and the way we digest food - and that with that knowledge - combined with all the non-cognitive ways we heal the parts of the brain and psyche and soul, and then all of it articulated through the lens of sexual assault survivors - that this weight will lighten for others in time…that maybe trauma healing won’t be a life battle but rather, resilience practices will be accessible and normalized from the beginning allowing someone to be free from their past physically, mentally, energetically and spiritually, sooner rather than later, but damn, we have our work to do.“
As part of a collaborative piece on The Establishment in conjunction with the Queering Sexual Violence anthology release, four contributors to Queering Sexual Violence share their personal healing paths, envision what healing could look like, and shift the narratives of what surviving and thriving actually can be.
The late Black feminist author, cultural worker, organizer, and one of my teachers, Toni Cade Bambara, asked the timeless question, “Are you sure, sweetheart, you want be well?” in The Salt Eaters, her award-winning 1980 novel. I consistently ask myself this question, because being an unapologetically out Black feminist lesbian who is both an incest/child sexual abuse survivor and an adult rape survivor is extremely difficult. One of many things that I have experientially learned is that healing and being well—emotionally, psychologically, mentally, psychically, and physically—are ongoing journeys and processes, not permanent destinations.
In my essay for Queering Sexual Violence, I wrote about three non-negotiable tools that are an integral part of my healing work. These tools helped me move from victim to survivor and engaged participant in movements to end violence committed against women and queer people, most especially those who are Black/People of Color. These tools are: 24 years of work with a licensed clinical Black feminist psychologist, Dr. Clara Whaley-Perkins; a 14-year practice of vipassana meditation as taught by S.N. Goenka; and 25 years of consistent involvement as an activist/cultural worker/filmmaker in global anti-gender-based violence and LGBTQIA movements.