Televising the Language of Sexual Aggression 

Years ago I believed the cotton-candy fiction that it was enough for incest survivors, child abuse victims, and rape victims to just tell someone your story.

After 8 years of practicing this advice on behalf of the victims of intimate crime, I can say it is not enough.

If you tell your story, you will be marginalized, ostracized, judged.

If you tell your story, little or nothing will happen to your abuser.

If you tell your story, you still might not be able to stop the abuse…

…ostensibly because it is more fiscally and emotionally economical to ignore abuse than to intervene.

Which is why the recent statements made by American celebrities Stephen Colbert and Bill Maher (about oral sex and incest respectively) are all the more transgressive.

In making these comments both men display a complete disregard for the position of  sex crime survivors and perpetuate the connection between anger and rape culture. 

Many of us were denied consent in this process. We did not watch either show but were nonetheless exposed without  consent to the barrage of media with explicit descriptions of comments laced with both anger and intent to shock and offend.

Shock is a function of trauma.  Our minds buffer traumatic events with shock. When we cease to be shocked by what is trauma-inducing, we allow these things to become commonplace, accepted.

Yet it is categorically unacceptable for men  of power and privilege to use their position in front of a national audience to transmit language that is verbally abusive and supportive of rape culture.

I understand that both Colbert and Maher disqualified protective language they would have extended to Clinton or Obama (and their daughters) because anger now fuels their discourse on Trump.

However in the process they have exposed a frat-boy, locker room mentality which not only has no place in intelligent dissent, it automatically signals to the already marginalized and disenfranchised victim of sexual crime-“you are not safe here.”

And that is shocking…or it should be.

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