Thank you to those who shared their concerns and questions regarding our recent online activities. We welcome this opportunity to talk about why an organization like ours engages in actions that are “political”, such as making a statement of support for the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The TLDR gist of it is that sex and sexuality IS political, and the reasons that sexual violence is so prevalent can be traced to deeply ingrained (and societally taught and supported) beliefs that devalue anyone who is not white, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied, ”intelligent’, monogamous (ish) etc
Yes! We promote sex-positive values. Sex Positivity absolutely does include our HUMAN RIGHT to know and understand how our bodies work, to experience pleasure (if we choose to) and our bodily autonomy. Yes! Shame free sex education and spaces to safely and consensually explore our own sexuality is a very visible part of sex-positivity. Of course, supporting sexual diversity and providing opportunities to learn about the beauty of diversity is a huge part of sex-positivity. Consent discussions, 2SIALGBTQ+ (queer) discussions, etc, are common at spaces like ours.
What is less talked about is that in our society (and most societies, particularly those that are heavily colonized), sexual violence is prevalent. Sneakier, perhaps, than in some other countries, but common. (See Subsections below). Research across scientific fields indicate that the causes of sexual assault are POWER based, not sexual based. This means that folks who sexually assault other folks because by doing so they get a feeling of power, or because they have so much social power they feel entitled to the other person’s body. INCLUDED in the root causes of sexual violence are:
- Gender Roles: Although things are improving, we are still a society that supports the notion that boys are rougher, tougher and more sexual, while girls are less. Yet society also believes that girls and women are responsible for preventing their own assaults and that when they are assaulted they are culpable in some way. There are also some really odd (when one takes time to think about it) notions regarding sexual conduct. Women should not, apparently, have sex too quickly, nor should they ”withhold’ sex for too long. These antiquated notions seem ridiculous when you put them into plain words, yet here we are. These notions are also built on the idea that your genitals determine everything about you, and that everything is binary (male or female). For folks who do not conform to the socially expected gender roles, the risk of sexual violence increases dramatically.
- Racialization: In Canada, Indigenous women and children are the most impacted by sexual and gender-based violence. Google MMIW and be prepared to consider the impact of church and industry on indigenous well-being and safety.
- Hetnormativity: The notion that if you are attracted to the opposite sex you are normal, but if you are queer you are other is a root cause for why folks who are 2SIALGBTQ+ are more likely to experience sexual violence than their straight peers.
- Age: For folks under 12 the risk is the highest. The next highest age is 12-25(ish). The next is over 75. This is because at these ages people often rely on others for their safety. And guess who is most likely to abuse these folks? The person(s) who have power over them. Parents, Guardians, Coaches, Caregivers, Clergy, Teachers
- Poverty/Class: Folks with more wealth or class privileges are more likely to assault folks with less wealth or class privileges. Again, this is about power.
- Ability/Disability: Folks with differing levels of abilities are also often in positions where they must rely on other people for support and well-being. They are highly likely to be sexually assaulted by a caregiver or supervising person.
This list goes on and on and on. And most folks (except for that small percentage of the able-bodied, white, cis-gendered, heterosexual, male, wealthy populace) will not just be in one of these disadvantaged categories.
How this applies to our support statement:
Indigenous People of Turtle Island have historically and continuously experienced high rates of sexualized violence. They have had to endure generations of abuses because of our colonial attitudes about gender, sexuality, skin tone, and wealth/power. Why? So that others can financially benefit.
Power is the root of sexual assault, assault and poverty in our country.
The Wet’suwet’en are sovereign leaders of their land AS PER the SUPREME Court of Canada. Yet the provincial court, for financial and political reasons, are choosing to use militarized police forces to invade that land, to arrest the folks residing there and supporting those residing there, and restricting the media access to their actions on this land. These actions are a clear statement that the human rights of folks who are indigenous are only rights on paper. That we, as a society, continue to see them as less than. This is unacceptable and is the opposite of what we are working so hard to promote: That every single person has the same human rights and that those rights include bodily autonomy, the right to pleasure, the right to their own culture.
In closing: At ASPECC we have worked, and will continue to work diligently to learn about the impacts of colonialism, and to dismantle as many colonial constructs within our own activities as we can. We do this as a sex-positive organization that recognizes that there are many social constructs that feed into sex-negativity and that until those constructs are dismantled sex positivity cannot flourish. That oppression in society directly fuels sexual violence. We recognize that the marginalization of folks is about POWER. So yes, we will speak up when ‘political” situations arise in which marginalized people are being abused in the name of financial gain because we understand that these social injustices are all interconnected.
*Sneakier: In some countries sexual violence is overt. Gang rapes in public, for example. Here sexual assault is most often committed by someone well known to the victim, and those assaults most often take place in private spaces such as the victims own home.*Commonality of Sexual Assault: Current studies indicate that AT LEAST 55% of children, regardless of gender, in North America, experience some form of sexual assault before the age of 12. This includes everything from penetrative acts to being forced to touch someone else. From 12 to 30 at least %60 of women, 30% of men experience sexual assault. Folks with intellectual disabilities? At least 60% Folks who are trans? 65%+. Trans women of colour? 85%+ Queer folks? 75%+. Indigenous women? 80%+. At this time we do not have statistics that include indigenous men, but we are working on that. We say “at least”, because many people do not realize they were assaulted because we have been taught to minimize and justify sexualized assault. Many folks do not report their assaults, for many reasons.
Written by Angel Sumka, Approved by the 2020 Board of ASPECC