In the wake of the stories of sexual assault of a young Filipina writer at a national writers workshop, social media was abuzz. Three writers who are colleagues of the alleged perpetrator wrote notes on their Facebook account.
Writer and teacher Nikki Alfar has this to say:
I’ve done you the courtesy of hearing you out, so now let me say this out loud:
It doesn’t matter if there was malice or not.
It doesn’t matter if there was alcohol involved - inebriation must never be condemnation for the woman and an excuse for the man.
It doesn’t matter if she did or did not fight or report it immediately or dissolve into a broken shell of a human being - she did what she felt was best for her physical and mental well-being at the time.
What matters is that, on both sides of this story, it’s clear that some form of sexual intimacy occurred, and that she was in no position to give consent, which is the definition of sexual assault.
Even if, as you tell me, you never meant any harm, you did harm.
Another writer, teacher and cultural worker, Nash Tysman, wrote this:
So heartbroken today. I just hope that our community of writers and readers will not just see what is going on as a one-off issue that we can gossip about today and forget tomorrow. I hope all of this can be a start of much-needed conversations about the kinds of violence we become complicit in. And because it's so personal and it involves a person I've known a long time and considers a good friend, I'm also hoping for the courage to be the best kind of friend--the one who says what needs to be said and the one who doesn't condone abuse. I don't think ostracizing anyone solves anything but right now, my thoughts are also with the person who spoke up about her abuse. It takes so much courage to do that, too. And whatever happens, whatever comes of this process, I trust that we need this too. The only way to #EndRapeCulture is to have the difficult conversations so apart from courage, I'm also hoping for compassion--a skill I think the best writers hone. Let's listen and let's not make excuses.
How do we support a woman in the midst of this maelstrom? How do we start the difficult conversations among us World Pulse sisters on #EndingRapeCulture and providing #safespaces where creative women can thrive?