Double standards can make it extremely difficult for male survivors of sexual abuse to be taken seriously, and to seek and/or receive support they need for their trauma. When the media presents images of men being raped by women as a good thing because “He got lucky,” it makes male survivors feel embarrassed and ashamed of what they endured. In this article I’m going to start analyzing double standards in fiction involving sexual abuse and how it harms everyone regardless of gender. They reinforce ideas like men are the main perpetrators of abuse, or perpetuate excuses like “Men can’t help it” or “Women always want sex.” These oversimplify the complexities of why sexual abuse happens.
When a man rapes a woman, it’s viewed as disgusting and terrifying, and the man’s considered pure scum. When a woman rapes a man, it’s viewed as a sexual conquest for the man who should be lucky he gets to sleep with someone so hot. Or it’s meant to be funny. A few examples come to mind:
Existing today in New York City, it is no secret that the female body in whatever shape, form or energy it arrives is excessively open for scrutiny. When we are in the driving seat of our own critical examination, it is twice as hard to be measured up by the media’s unreachable concepts of what we need to eat, wear, desire or look like: AND why should we give a shit!
In this special edition article I will be departing from my comic-centric work to talk to you about… Goosebumps, the kids’ horror novel franchise written by R.L. Stine which is purported to have sold more books than Harry Potter. The books featured monsters and ghouls such as living dummies, haunted masks, and evil amusement parks. Despite how cheesy some of the books are, rereading them as an adult you can discover there’s a lot of subtext and innuendo that makes the stories horrifying. And yes, there’re some sex abuse metaphors. As a treat I decided to write about this as a way to show that even in children’s media there are ways to convey stories about sexual abuse and trauma, which presents a potential new medium for sex abuse survivors to write about their experiences and their bodies to help define their own narratives while helping others define there’s.
Imagine you had a friend, and 24 hours a day, this friend was working for you, doing all kinds of really important things. Imagine your friend was holding you up, helping you walk, breathe, laugh, sleep, read, see, dream, hear sounds, touch things, feel love, pump blood into your veins, digest food, and countless other miracles. Imagine after all that help and non-stop work, your response was to criticize this friend, call them names, and tell them you don’t like them or even that you hate them. Can you imagine that? Well this is what many people do to their bodies.
I just came across this article about intersectionality. One of the points that is raised, though the writer doesn’t directly address this, is how older women of colour (who are not black women) respond to the intersectional experience of being altogether black, woman and non-gender conforming. I am not quite sure what to make of the whole argument.
I’m that girl with the purple locs. The girl with the high bun which proudly sits atop her head. The girl with the hair which glistens in the sun offering glimpses of plum and violet. The one whose every other post on Instagram is about her hair. Yeah, that girl. Some people no doubt wonder what the story is with me and my mane. Others will be unsurprised to learn that this story began with hatred of the very head of hair I flaunt so happily today. Like many other Black women and girls, I have a long and complicated history with my hair…
For my next article for Endangered Bodies, I’d like to branch out a bit and talk about Wonder Woman. Many of you might know her as one of the premier superheroines of American culture. She’s a literal Amazon princess born of clay, the daughter of an entire civilization of women, a hero who wields a magic lasso that compels people to be truthful, and a figure of strength and grace. In my articles about how rape’s portrayal in comics affects public and private thinking on rape, I’ve talked about rape being used for shock value. In this case, I’ll be talking about how a rape retcon was used to undermine Wonder Woman’s character and the culture she came from.
So here's the truth: in the last few months I have gone up a dress size or two, hosted a massive acne outbreak on my forehead, been working 4-5 different freelance positions and thus verbally punished myself for not having a full-time position at one place. But here's the thing, on Christmas Eve I sat in a storytelling circle with a group of truly remarkable individuals in Loveland, Colorado. Like in traditional communal oral storytelling circles, we shared stories about the celebrations and successes of our lives in 2016. I was towards the end so as I listened to these amazing people I became more inspired not only by their wonderfully meaningful accomplishments but by their ability to acknowledge the good parts of their lives. I realized that while I have done well this year, I spend more days being disappointed with what I haven't got rather than acknowledging what I have received, done, accomplished...which ironically goes against being present.
I am sure that many of you noticed that all of our articles have been posted almost incognito, as the person posting has been largely invisible in an effort to give full credit and shine to the individual writers. I am going to try do things a little bit differently, just so that you as the readers can feel the humanness in our blog and so you have some indication of who you are hearing from --because, after all, humanity, our feelings as humans, and our connection and compassion for each other is what drives our core strive for equality here at Endangered Bodies. So first off, I’m going to introduce myself and then I want to tell you about the terrific text featured this week. My name is Shayna. I am the editor of the Endangered Bodies New York (EBNYC) Blog and I will sometimes contribute my own writing as well. Among many things, I am a feminist, not a ‘feminist lite’ or a ‘sometimes feminist with exceptions’ but a feminist who finds relevance and importance in the Suffragette movement, Second Wave feminism, and Third Wave Trans-/Queer theories/politics/experiences. Every moment of my day is propelled by what these things mean for how I live. This may sound exhausting, it’s not; it is liberating, empowering, challenging, and true. Living this way has allowed me to consider us all as equals which has given me the capability to open up to learn fascinating life lessons from people of all ages, races, classes, sexualities, and genders during everyday conversations. There is never a mundane moment. Contrary to pop belief being a feminist does not exempt me from participating in stereotypically “feminine” activities such as being obsessed with styling my hair, painting my nails, or having fun getting dressed. Instead, these things have become materials that I use to construct my world. Anthropologist and Gender Studies scholar and professor Lila Abu-Lughod said that Islamic women’s Burqas can be seen as “mobile homes”. That when inside their burqas wearers can feel a sense of comfort because it is as if the qualities that help the wearers feel most safe and content when they are in the safe space of their homes is carried with them in their burqa –made even more secure because the outside world cannot penetrate inside. Therefore judgement from the outside remains reserved to criticism of her travelling house. I fashion myself in a similar way, it is my protection and safe space. While I am acutely aware of how I may be perceived, I find it amusing because that judgement no longer impacts whether or not I feel like I have to do anything. Fashion and Gender & Sexuality pervade my lifestyle, my career choices and my field of research which has landed me this amazing opportunity at EBNYC. I have told you these things about myself in the hopes that you will get a sense of who I am and you may get to know more about my peaks and low points through my writing on the blog. More so, I hope that by giving you a glimpse into me, you will feel more comfortable to let me get to know you as well. Through comments, sharing, and especially if you feel inspired to contribute writing or any form of work that you feel our community with receive. I hope to hear from you soon and thank you for joining and sharing these conversations.
This week’s article is by Jessica Anderson who is a pre-med student, feminist and body positivity activist in New York City. Her article is beautiful for the way she begins to search for a deeper understanding of what body positivity means and how this nuanced definition will allow body positivity to become a state of mind beyond being an ideological passing trend. I was very excited about Anderson’s work because she really encourages us all to reclaim ourselves by reclaiming this definition. Please read it below and let Jessica and us know your thoughts! Thank you Jessica, and I hope you all enjoy it!! :)
 Abu-Lughod, Lila. “Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving? Anthropological Reflections on Cultural Relativism & its Others.” American Anthropologist 104 (3): 785