Ennufff: Rape & Suicide

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After today’s show on Rape and Suicide we continued the conversation using Google Hangout. Thanks to Vel for joining us. There’s so much to learn. This conversation could go on and on.

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Karen’s April 2013 Editorial

Karen_2It is the time for healing. Spring has sprung!  Tis the piece I will call The Ridiculous ‘Wounded’ Monkeys…

The content of our consciousness is based on how we are shaped and conditioned by society, through internal and external conditions, and this is how things are reflected in or through society.  Is it possible that we can seek to find out what our life is by the I/me (individual) or the we (collectively us), or the I, as one, Universal? What I know for a fact is, the world worries from a I/me perspective and that brings out the unconscious ego.  Instead, we need a conditioned movement for opposition and resistance, equality and justice as the I, as one, Universal.

The we (collective) lives in distraction like entertainment, sports, and celebrity (false) reality shows.  No one teaches that the conscious inner alignment is the vehicle that takes us to our thought which displays the distorted behavior reflecting the state of the conformed conditioned mind.  There are enormous sufferings in every human being.  There is the mental, emotional, physical sufferings that stems from the conditioned mindset and collective mindset that thinks that this is life, from a cultural, political, and religious perspective.  However, we are all human beings with one commonality and that is, seeking our own liberation and equalities in different shapes and forms.

Society encourages children to learn by experience and demonstration. What about that monkey on society’s back.. or that damn monkey who represents the three famous refrains, ‘hear no evil, see no evil, or speak no evil’? I have seen in my lifetime a society that is not expected to hope because most will never know the history of their own demons.  They are too busy following the monkey’s refrains. Pretending that all is well. These demons have victimized their own people, leaving the wounded monkey to remain free but silent.  Everyone has a hidden story that has never been told to them because of the, ‘for peace sake’ myth.  But, is there any peace in pretending (‘hearing, seeing, or speaking no evil when that evil is all around us) and who does it give the peace?

Looking around, I have noticed in the awakening moments the ‘OMG’ responses from friends and family. “How come I never knew or no one ever told me?” becomes the recurring questions. The questions of why, what, where, who, and when, then circulates the emotional house.  In my own growing up, I noticed anger without reason. Leaving me to see my own mother’s anger as emotions that had to be repressed. She had a hard life, unable to express herself, or entertain counseling, she would say, ‘I will help myself’.

My mother and I are very different in this way. Because I seek outlets for my demons. Music has always been the remedy and therapy for my soul. So, a song in my head sings as I remember the past,  ‘Season’s no reason for change’. But there must be a change.  To eliminate the unhealthy masks, to be willing to unravel the past, to recognize the present, the I, as one, Universal must step forward.  The future is present, the pioneering workers are hurt, yet willing to heal (unlike the wounded monkeys) by beginning to remove their own masks and get in touch with self, roots, and history, to lead the next generation from the myth of peace by silence.  Change or healing can never find peace in silence. The wounded monkeys must be encouraged to speak their truth to begin healing.

Damali’s April 2013 Editorial

DamaliA friend raised a brain-tickling question after my recent Facebook post about re-framing Rape Culture. In trying to be a voice for victims, I get riled up, passionate, and zealous about the constant re-victimization of the victims (particularly perpetrated by the media and community members).  But, I try not to lose sight of the reality that the average perpetrator (by average I mean those closest to us, not the stranger lurking in the shadows, but the friendly face in the community) is beloved by many, and it is natural for loved ones to want to protect. It is also natural [for loved ones] to see the most common dimension of a multi-dimensional individual.

 All of us wear masks – some more than others. I, personally, behave with more respect and decorum around my parents and children than I do my friends. I also exude professionalism at work (saying please and thank you politely throughout the day) while I let loose at home (saying whatever comes to my mind). We all flit between spaces and places and people, so what a friend, parent, teacher, co-worker sees is but one dimension of a human being. Do humans then have the ability to do “good” things and “bad” things? Can some things, as catastrophic as they may be for another human being, be driven by peer pressure or something situational versus the absolutes we’ve created – absolutes like only bad people rape, only monsters rape, only sick people rape, etc. Let us break this idea – that “good” people can do bad things – down a little.

 Picture someone stealing. Now picture that someone being a loved one. Would we immediately write the person off? I doubt it. Might we probe a bit more to understand the motivation for the individuals decision to steal? Would we try to find out if this is habitual or rooted in some illness, like Kleptomania? Would we try to determine if peer pressure were involved? Perhaps he/she was hanging out with friends and everyone else stole the gum, so he/she joined in. Would we try to determine if maybe he/she felt overcome with temptation, maybe the individual really wanted a gold necklace but never thought they could afford one, so they stole it, thinking no one would ever be the wiser. You get the gist. What if we treated rape that way?

 What if we spent some time trying to understand what motivated the commission of this crime, and held the perpetrator accountable in ways that spoke more to the motivation – IN ADDITION TO ANY SENTENCE THEY RECEIVE. If someone is a serial rapist who can be diagnosed with some psychosis or medical cause, could we treat the illness and put stipulations in place to protect others? If someone fell prey to peer pressure, could they then be implored to attend a support group, where these issues and Rape Culture is dissected and reconstructed? Additionally, could we include parents and family members in these sessions, so they can help their child/loved one face and deal appropriately with the commission of this crime. If the person felt overcome with temptation, could we arm them with the appropriate tools that may alleviate said temptation. I could imagine a 12-step program of sorts, with an accountability partner in place to talk them through moments when they feel like offending and needed support.  While these are ideas floating around in my head, and will likely need further exploration, research, and careful consideration before implementation, I assert that there are alternatives to our current reality.

A current reality that sees us sweeping this crime under the rug because we don’t want to admit that Rape Culture is all around us and perpetrators are frequently given a pass because they don’t fit the stereotypical image we’ve created.  A reality that leaves victims mute and afraid, because the finger of blame continues to point toward them, rarely acknowledging the power of choice – that particularly perpetrators have a choice. Perpetrators have a choice. No matter what the victim was wearing, how much they were drinking, what their reputations belie. Perpetrators had an option, and that is the distinction that must be made as we begin a dialogue about this crime and important yet sensitive issue.

 In my opinion, a generally “good” person, i.e., the person next door or across the table, could commit rape and still remain generally good in the eyes of his/her loved ones. The distinction is that he or she has done something bad and in order to seek accountability and some form of justice for the victim, we (all of us) could benefit from re-framing the way we think about good and bad and victim and perpetrator and rehabilitation and forgiveness.

While this is only my opinion, and I recognize that this is based on my own experiences, the general misguided belief that we have to write off any human being who commits a crime of this magnitude has not gotten us anywhere collectively. Facing their offenses head on and insisting on accountability and rehabilitation may present an opportunity for change. How can we ever realize change if no one is ever held accountable or made to face these crimes? Let’s start the complex conversation toward real change today!

Good People Do Bad Things

We may not be able to change the world but there is hope for a different kind of change. 2013 has started out with ‘change’ regarding sexual abuse and violence in the US.  The conviction of college football coach Jerry Sandusky and the two Steubenville high school football players demonstrates a significant degree of change. Yet, we must continue the conversation if we want lasting change. We must begin to accept that good people do bad things. Young people, especially, are finding their way in life and need to be supported by family, society, and the Media in changing their behavior over the long-term. How does this happen? By holding them accountable and speaking up on behalf of victims/survivors.

It is the voice of silence that keeps a grotesque mask on rape and sexual violence. However, that silence is being broken, even from the few, and change starts with the commitment to take action. To ‘Stand Up, Speak Up’!

Were the young perpetrators (whose names are swirling around in recent headlines) “good” people?  Yes. In some sense they were. Youth is the stage of growing where we are just beginning to get to know ourselves. We are developing character and making foolish choices. These choices render lifelong mistakes that must be corrected. Unfortunately, in these instances correction will begin in an institution (juvenile hall, prisons/jails) but we need that correction reinforced at home and in the community. For these “good” people, there must be accountability. When we choose the wrong or right to do in any situation, it still rewards with ‘Karma’ of good or bad consequences.  Rape destroys the essence of the victim ‘self’, the human being’s life experience is interrupted in the ‘soul’.  Therefore, we can’t turn a blind eye to the perpetrator because they are seen as good. We have to report and speak the truth. That good person did a BAD thing!

Karen Ayee

Rick Ross & Artistic Responsibility

It’s the age old question. Do artists have a responsibility to censor their art (music, film, etc…), especially in thinking about the young and impressionable minds who have access to their final products (Not to mention the influence they wield among their peers, who may be considered grown by chronological age, but in groups, tend to behave equally as impressionable)? The recent Rick Ross lyrical offering in U.O.E.N.O, glorifying rape culture is a prime example, but not the only example. Do they have a responsibility OR do we all have responsibility? Most artists respond in the typical way, indicting parents and guardians. As a parent, I get that we do have a responsibility BUT in this social media technology-driven world, policing what our children listen to and watch has become increasingly challenging. I swear this is not a cop out, but one of the realities we all face in answering this question. Another reality identifies an equally culpable intermediary – the Media. What responsibility does the Media bear? Why not begin a conversation around that? Driven by sensationalism, views, hits, sales, and controversy, where is the recognition of your power and influence? While the typical answer here puts the onus on the consumer, there are studies that show the Media can help drive and change the conversation. Here is an article that speaks to the Media’s power to influence positive change. What would our world and Rape Culture look like if the Media shared responsibility with artists and families? That is the reframed question. Help us start the conversation. What are your thoughts?

Here are some ways you can share: Email us at ennufff@gmail.com; Tweet us at @ennufff; or Join our Facebook group Ennufff hosted by Karen and Damali. We’re eager to have you join, moderate, and/or lead this conversation.

Damali Robertson