From derailing, to gaslighting, to unsolicited advice: people derail important conversations held by survivors of sexual assault. TW/CW: this article discusses sexual assault/violence as well as gaslighting of a sexual assault survivor By Gloria Oladipo Sometimes, to shame the devil, we have to
Complicit and complacent media change women's narratives with a series of techniques and alter the way we internalize their stories. Content Warning: mentions of sexual assault By Leslie Kay Jones, PhD On Jan. 15th, 2018, US Olympic Gymnast Simone Biles tweeted with the
All the oppressive things we already have to deal with in our material world only become amplified in the virtual world.I quit, y'all. I put in a solid few years on dating apps and I’ve decided that I'm not carrying them with me into 2019. This isn't to denounce dating apps as being completely useless or frivolous or anything of the sort. Plenty of people enjoy this method of meeting others and have had successful experiences with it. I am not one of those people, and it goes beyond the struggles I wrote about when I covered why dating while on the asexuality spectrum is so complicated and difficult. I was never in this to seek out romance or a long-term, committed, monogamous relationship. I was also never in this for one-night stands or casual hook-ups. These are positions that I make abundantly clear in my profile, but it still seems to confuse the vast majority of people—that is, the ones who even bother to read it. Dating is not a monolithic experience or set of goals. Some people date with the objective of finding a lifemate, some date because they like starting and ending relationships, others date for consistent access to sexual escapades, others date because they enjoy meeting new people, and the worst people are nothing more than emotional vampires, parasites, and predators who use dating as a way to carry out their abuses on as many people as possible. I want dating for myself to be about genuinely connecting with someone, enjoying their company, and being intentional about cultivating intimacy in an ethical, healthy, reciprocal exchange that is not monogamous or romantic (at least in the rigid, traditional sense), but queerplatonic in nature. I recognize that this is not the way most people want to date. This is not how we have been socialized to think about dating, and this is why I am always upfront about it and it's why I always leave room for an open conversation about my wants, needs, and boundaries, as well as theirs. The issue is that, I'd say 98% of the time, we never make it to the point where this conversation can be brought up because a huge percentage of the people I've interacted with on dating apps are absolutely abysmal at the art of conversation to begin with. I'm visible to, have interacted with, and sought out people of all genders, sexualities, and orientations, as well as those without gender, who are interested in people of my gender, but the vast majority of the harassment, abusive messages, inconsiderate treatment, and traumatic exchanges I've had have been with cis straight men. Surprise, surprise. Sometimes, people just don't click, and that's not at all what my complaint is about. Even though things with numerous people who aren't cis straight men have fizzled out in one way or another, these people have at least been nice to talk to for as long as it lasted. Who do I talk to about conducting a sociolinguistic study on how gender impacts the way we approach texting and online messaging? I can't be the only one who recognizes that cis straight men are notoriously bad at it. There have been studies about gender differences in verbal communication, including ones which debunk the myth that women talk more and highlight just how much men interrupt other people. However, these studies and the psychology articles I've read on this subjects are cisnormative, heteronormative, and biological essentialist, with most attributing any findings to the differences in how men and women are “hardwired” to interact with the world rather than considering the impact of gender cultivation and environmental factors. A recent study has reinforced what had long been speculated by people of color, that dating apps amplify sexual racism, but as far as I can tell from my own Googling, there isn't anything that comprehensively analyzes how gendered expectations and permissions play out in online messaging and texting, and particularly how it impacts our experiences on dating apps. I know my visible identities as well as how I describe myself in my profile impact my experience. I am unambiguously Black, fat, and formally educated with my Masters degree listed, as well as my relevant interests. There are many other things that describe me and that I have included for users to see, but I believe these three things have been the major factors in my experiences because they are usually the things that are focused on in the unsavory messages I've received and interactions I've had. Allow me to enumerate them for you in an extensive, but far from complete, look at many of the initial messages and brief interactions I've had throughout the years.
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Thomas Markle exhibited what can only be described as manipulation and emotional abuse under the guise of concern and love.This op-ed includes mentions of emotional abuse I haven’t spoken to my father in over two years. I sent him one last email detailing why I no longer wanted to be in contact with him, I explained how his decisions and emotional abuse harmed me and told him that I wanted to prioritize my mental health so that I could move forward with my life. It was the best decision I have ever made, and not a single day goes by that I regret what I did. That’s why I was infuriated when I saw Meghan Markle’s father, Thomas Markle, being interviewed by none other than Piers Morgan, a notorious anti-feminist (or men’s rights activist, whatever the fuck that means) and media figure who has obsessively and publicly harassed Meghan since her introduction to the British public. In his interview with Morgan, Thomas Markle exhibited what can only be described as manipulation and emotional abuse under the guise of concern and love. Following his multiple publicity stunts leading up to Meghan’s wedding to Prince Harry, he claims that his daughter cut off all contact with him despite his numerous apologies. His continuous need to center himself and his emotional needs over Meghan’s autonomy and the boundaries she most likely created for her own mental health shows a clear disregard for his daughter’s wellbeing. While it would be easy to disregard this latest display of abuse as an impassioned cry for family unity and love, that superficial and non-contextual conclusion deliberately ignores the fact that Mr. Markle chose to be interviewed by Morgan, a man who has been using every ounce of his whiteness and maleness to act like an abusive ex-boyfriend. A documented transphobic, sexist and racist overpaid bag of termites, Morgan has repeatedly used Meghan Markle to draw attention to himself in the worst ways possible. From questioning her agency and ability to make her own decisions, accusing her of being “fake” and a “social climber”, to alleging that she “ghosted him”, Morgan has shown how toxic whiteness and masculinity is performed without repercussions. It comes as no surprise that Morgan would interview Thomas Markle and amplify his abuse on national British television. It also comes as no surprise that the British press would continue to publicly uplift the opinions of people who have directed their racist and sexist criticisms towards Meghan Markle. https://twitter.com/girlsreallyrule/status/1074666171310460929 After months of racial abuse, including claims that she is breaking musty-ass royal protocols, the optics of two white men on TV badgering Meghan is a stark reminder that women of color in particular will have their agency and boundaries challenged, even by their own fathers. Mr. Markle, who can only be well aware of his daughter’s feminist politics, chose to speak to the man who is the polar opposite of what Meghan stands for and I do not think that his choice was accidental. Both are using their positions in society as white men to earn public sympathy while demonizing a biracial Black woman. And since society grants humanity primarily to white, cisgender men and women, it comes as no surprise that this display of manipulation and publicity garnered sympathy from the public. Thomas Markle’s decision to appear on Morgan’s morning show also amplifies Morgan’s obsession with Markle and the allegations that she ghosted him. These allegations are now being reinforced by her father’s own claims of “ghosting” as a pattern she has engaged in rather than her right to not bestow attention on an abusive parent. While it’s impressive that two old, white men learned about the term ghosting, they have both chosen to ignore that Meghan’s decisions for her mental health and happiness have a right to stand unchallenged. Family unity, unconditional love and family-first rhetoric consistently pushes away the experiences of those who were emotionally or physically abused by their parents or other family members. While Meghan Markle’s relationship to her father is her own, it’s worth parsing through the idea that being a blood relative or a parent does not mean that you are owed a relationship to someone. Family dynamics vary, but they also have similar threads running throughout them. So many of our relationships, familial ones included, emphasize the need for unconditional love and forgiveness which mostly reinforces patriarchal, cisheteronormative oppressions. Unconditional love often acts as an integral part of maintaining harmful social structures within family relationships. No love should be unconditional when it covers up the abuse of vulnerable people who suffer for decades without ever being able to cut off abusive family members. Love shouldn’t be unconditional because it perpetuates the idea that all behaviors and actions are worthy of forgiveness no matter how much harm they inflict upon us. Cutting off toxic family members isn’t a decision that is easy, nor is it made lightly. It’s often a decision that is made after years of undergoing consistent manipulation and harm. It is an informed, healthy and brave decision which requires a lot of strength.
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