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If your allyship only extends as far as your comfort, you are not an ally.

John Brown was an abolitionist who died in 1859. He was hanged after a failed attempt to attack a federal arsenal to provide arms to a future slave rebellion. He was a flawed human being but he lived by his principles and died by them. And in 2018, that's the kind of energy allies really need to have. I'm not saying you need to attack the government (but that's absolutely an option that is open to you, put a pin in it), but I am saying that you need to sacrifice your own privilege in order to fully combat oppression and make a real change in the world. And if you're not willing to do that, fuck you then. You read that right. In 2018, in a world where rapists are being voted to the Supreme Court and there are literal Nazis in the street, we just don't have time for platitudes. We just don't have space for people who are merely paying lip service to a cause without fully investing themselves in the cause.   This message is specifically going out to white people and men. In 2018, you need to do way better than you are. You need to engage. You know it's bad out there, you know that people who have far less privilege are taking the brunt of the abuse while still fighting against oppression every day. As a real ally, you should be engaging those systems in conflict from the door. In Brown's time, he saw what the pro-slavery group was doing and imitated their tactics to further his side. He rejected his own privilege. He helped slaves escape, he formulated plans to create a stronger system of safety and escape and fought for full-scale end to slavery. We can find people like Brown throughout history, many have been turned into memes that we share because we love a good hero. People who rode bikes through war zones to deliver coded messages, women who seduced Nazis to shoot them in the head. Sometime in the last few years the title of ally has been co-opted. It has come to mean a person who is just not a flaming a bigot. But go into any ally group and you'll see, quite quickly, that there are lines to how far they'll go. They believe in equal rights but won't step to their dad when he makes a sexist joke. They're not racist but won't confront their neighbor on their “all lives matter” sign.

I thought I didn't like sex, but really, I just didn't like feeling like shit afterwards.

This essay discusses coercive and violating forms of sex in detail. I tried to enjoy sex with men—cis and otherwise—for several years before I began seriously questioning my sexuality and gender. I hated a lot of things about sex with men, the things surrounding it, and the language used to describe it, but I tolerated the things that I didn't like about it so I could enjoy the few things that I did like, and later I learned that I could get those things elsewhere and in more healthy ways. Finally, I came to the realization that I just didn't like the kind of sex that I’d been having, the only kind that I had ever experienced, since the very first guy I ever had sex with coerced me into it. The kind of sex that I was conditioned to believe was normal, that I was expected to accept as standard, natural, and unchanging, as something not shaped by environmental and social factors, and gender cultivation. I know now that I could enjoy sex with men more if they were at all interested in making it comfortable for the people they fuck. Instead, they seem to get off on making the experience uncomfortable and painful for their partners, regardless of whether or not that's what we want. I'm not talking about BDSM, kink, power play, power exchange, or the things related to them. These are all valid forms of sexual expression and engagement, and can absolutely be fulfilling and rewarding when all people involved are consenting to all agreed upon aspects, communicate desires and boundaries effectively, and commit to practicing these forms of sex ethically. This is about men who are interested in nothing more than reproducing the things that they see in pornography or hear in mundane social conversations and colloquialisms about sex, because they think this is all that sex is and should be. This is about men who are never interested in talking to me about what I want or need from sex. Men whose idea of sex is nothing more than a sum of various fantasies produced by a paternal and misogynistic society which amount to degradation and subjugation that I am expected to accept as not only normal, but necessary parts of sex with them. A normalcy in which I am supposed to accept being in agonizing positions, and subject to being tossed around and repositioned at their will, regardless of how I feel, because they believe that's how sex is “supposed” to look. A normalcy in which the prospect of making me orgasm is always about their ego and never about my ecstasy. And they push harder against me or pull me back to them when I adjust or pull away because something feels uncomfortable or painful or overwhelming. And they say, “Come back here” and “Stop running” and “Don't fucking move” because I'm not allowed to react to what's happening instinctively, because they don't care that this position hurts me. In fact, it's supposed to hurt me, and I'm supposed to just stay here and take it, because that's what they really get off on. They've been conditioned to be aroused by women in pain. Because it makes them feel good about the size of their dick or the stroke of their strap-on. Because they think that fucking hard and rough without nuance or sensitivity constitutes good sex.

As long as our culture refuses to hold the Depps of the world accountable, there will always be women like Heard who will be tasked with watching their abusers prosper.

[TW/CW: discussion of domestic violence, rape culture and mentions of sexual assault.] New York Magazine's July 27th, 2015 cover is still as harrowing as it is iconic. Just beneath the bold red lettering of the publication's moniker are 35 women—the victims of Bill Cosby's serial sexual abusedressed in black and seated calmly in their chairs. The uniformity of their open poses and solemn, forward-facing expressions portray a shared preparation for public scrutiny, a feeling all too familiar to anyone who has ever spoken aloud of the abuse they have suffered. Seeing these women congregate in one image is an impactful sight on its own, but the standout element for many of us sits at the end of the last row: an empty chair. It remains unoccupied by all of the women who, despite the presence of nearly three dozen fellow survivors, still didn't feel supported enough to tell their stories. That doubt something that so many silent survivors harboris substantiated by a society that not only continues to interrogate, mock, and ultimately gaslight victims of abuse, but also protects their abusers when they are especially powerful or popular. Johnny Depp is an immensely popular actor. When he and actress Amber Heard divorced in 2016, Heard detailed for the court a history of physical and psychological abuse at the hands of Depp. Her testimony included pictures of her bruised face and a detailed witness account from a friend who had to physically shield Heard from Depp's assault. When his legal team claimed that Heard's accusations were false and motivated by possible financial gain, she promised to donate her entire settlement$7 millionto charity.

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