“The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children.”
Pulp Fiction – 1994
When I first started “Sliding Down The Razor’s Edge” I had no grand plan to change the world. No intention to shake up the mainstream. No desire to do anything more than offer pointed commentary about issues that pissed me off and needed to change. Certainly no solutions. I write fiction but many times the message I want to slide between the lines in stories and novels lacks a platform that has broad impact. It happens that way sometimes.
But somewhere along my path I had a painful realization that a voice without conviction – without the strength of ideals to back up the ideas – is simply wasted breath. Somebody once said: “You can’t just yell from the mountaintop and expect to hear more than the echo of your own voice”. Complaining and pointing out what’s wrong isn’t enough. You have to make a difference. You may not change the world all at once, but as I told my daughter recently, you can make a small difference in whatever way possible, even if it’s only in your own backyard – one small change can ripple outwards in meaningful ways. You have to be the one who helps create the change you demand.
For months I have focused on issues of domestic violence and sexual violence, and tried calling attention to what I believe is a national public crisis. There are other voices who are doing the same thing, and who are effective as well as eloquent - channels like Jezebel, Media Girl, and Finally Feminism 101 are critical in furthering the dialogue. Dr. Stephanie Wright continues to be a strong voice and tackles these issues through “52 Monday’s” – she is a writer who is my hero, even if she doesn’t wrap herself in a cape and leap tall buildings. The way she and others address issues of DV and sexual violence consistently surpasses anything I can offer,
And that brings us to where we are today.
I have maintained that the permanent solution to solving sexual violence is to teach boys (and men) not to rape. Simple in theory but tough to execute. It involves teaching respect for women in not only actions, but through our attitudes, the things we say, and the different ways we treat ALL women. Yes, we need stronger laws. Yes, we need to prosecute aggressively. We need stronger enforcement of TOP’s and POP’s in matters of domestic violence. We need to end victim shaming and make it easier for victims to report sexual assault. Cops rarely raise an eyebrow at a burglary victim and never question you like it’s your fault your house was robbed, but try reporting a sexual assault and see how well you’re treated. There’s a reason over 80% of all sexual assaults are not reported.
And it’s a fact that 4 out of 5 reported sexual assaults are by people known by the victim – that stereotypical portrayal of the rapist wearing a ski mask and lurking in dark alleys is not realistic and was probably never that accurate. It happens, but more likely it will be a friend, classmate, ex-partner (or partner/spouse in cases of DV), or a date. With that in mind, I have advocated long and hard that we need to change our perspectives and change the narrative about sexual violence.
And we need to do more than just talk.
We need dialogue.
We need action.
We need to make a difference by calling out misogyny wherever and whenever we see it, hear it, and experience it.
This week a number of anti-feminist trolls on #YesAllWomen took exception to my contention that ending sexual violence starts with teaching boys not to rape. I’m always willing to debate intelligently but I don’t have time to argue with stupidity or ignorance. The disconnect and the distance between their position and mine is too wide to cross without detracting from what we’re trying to change as well as accomplish. And it is now clearer to me that my work is just beginning – as we say in my house, I am just getting warmed up. Words without action are just words. I need to do more and say more. Nothing that was ever significant just happened – we need to make it happen.
And like Jules said in “Pulp Fiction”, “It’s hard…..but I’m trying real hard to be the shepherd.”