so last year, we had a national day of action against rape culture. there was a great turnout, and i thought that some of the discussion that happened around it were really useful. some were pretty frustrating, others were distressing, but on the whole, it seemed like some progress has been made in getting people to understand what rape culture is about and the need to challenge it.
in hamilton, we followed up the march with a public meeting which was quite well attended (over 70 people is really good for hamilton!). again, there was a feeling that people wanted to take further action, to keep working on challenging that culture & to raise awareness. and that was really heartening.
our first project for 2014 is having something put into student orientation packs for the university. we've decided on 3B1 notebooks, with stickers on the front and back - mostly because it's cheap but hopefully effective.
we're now looking at messaging to put on the stickers, and this where i'd really appreciate some help. i've emailed some people who work in the field & i hope to get some responses in the next few days. i thought it wouldn't hurt to ask our readers as well, as to what kind of messaging would resonate with young people. would appreciate your ideas.
while i'm writing, i thought i'd write about the DJ in wellington who made certain racist remarks about indians. as expected, there has been general outrage at the comments. and i don't disagree with that, they were pretty nasty and unacceptable. indians aren't any worse or better than anyone else when it comes to groping and inappropriate behaviour at nightclubs or anywhere else. i'd say it was a pretty common problem across the world.
but in amongst all of the discussion, there was very little talk about the actual harassment and behaviour that goes on in many venues across the country, and by people of all races. what i didn't see was people talking about the need for venues to have written sexual harassment policies and to enforce them. any patron or staff members should be able to take a complaint to the venue, there should be an investigation and that should be the basis of anyone being banned. obviously this is work. and it's much easier to make stereotypical assumptions and ban a whole class of people, rather than taking the time to investigate individual cases.
but i suspect it wouldn't be a whole lot of work. once a place had gained a good reputation in terms of protecting it's patrons from harassment, people would be much less likely to carry on that kind of behaviour.
it's not like there's no problem with sexual harassment & rape culture when it comes to indians. just like there is with all communities. as i wrote in a post last year, we need to start having this conversation across various cultures
the wellington "community leader" who went to talk to the DJ is a facebook friend of mine, and he seems to have had a very productive conversation with some positive outcomes. which is what i expected because he's a great person. i just hope that part of the outcomes includes discussions about rape culture and issues of harassment. because that definitely needs to be part of the conversation & i expect that community leaders in the indian community are really well placed to do that.