September 22 2014

There is one thing, and only one thing I want you to take from this email, and that's the idea of consent.

It makes me really happy to hear stories on National Public Radio and other places talking positively about the general response to all these problems on college campuses. But sexual assault doesn't just take place in college. It doesn't just take place between strangers.

Our ideas about justice need to shift radically. Look into Philly Stands Up. Look into "transformative justice." Look into a book called "The Revolution Starts at Home."

"Wherever you go, however you dress, no means no and yes means yes."

I want to take a moment to address my male-identifying audience more specifically. You may think this issue doesn't affect you.

It does.

1 in 3 women are the survivors of sexual assault. And most sexual assaults go unreported. Do you have a sister? A mother, an aunt, a niece, a cousin, a grandmother, a partner, a friend? 1 in 3. You may think the issue doesn't affect you, but all it takes is one moment for a decision without thinking, one moment of carelessness. Then you've hurt someone forever.

Prison and punishment alone don't stop the cycle of violence. In a lot of ways, prison, the law, the courts, only promote the idea of violence, are a form of violence in themselves. We need caring communities. We need models of transformation that turns those who perpetrate sexual violence into responsible members of the community. We need to show each other care and love. It needs to start with each one of us, and not wait on the (often slow, often hurtful) apparatus of the state.

I have one chance to talk to thousands of you, and I'm spending it on telling you this: ask. Treat others as you would want to be treated. I've seen a lot of happy emails from the listserve, a lot of emails talking about start-up companies and travel and living the good life, people who are looking for their purpose in life. People with a lot of privilege. Put your privilege on the line and give time to people and organizations who need help combating sexual violence. If this email helps just one person, if it helps someone draw just one realization, if it gets just one more person talking with their friends or organizations about sexual violence, then I consider the listserve a success. But we need so much more than just one person.

United States

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