I am the vice-president, which sounds very fancy, but, nothing. I like it. Even if being vice president means I go to meetings in yoga pants and work from the comfort of my couch...
How did you come to PARC?
I am incredibly lucky to have met and become friends with PARC’s founder, Christine, when we were in the same grad program at American University. She had the vision and drive to create PARC, and I was of course enthusiastic about participating. When the horrific tragedy in Steubenville made news, I felt crushed. Crushed by the media response, crushed by Jane Doe’s classmate’s and community response, and crushed by the colloquial conversation that was dominated with victim-blaming and misguided and hateful dialogue. This was something I talked about with friends and family, and reeled from. Christine had the inspiration and spirit to galvanize this sentiment amongst her friends and family and turn it into an organized mission, and I am psyched to be able to participate in this work with these amazing women!
What do you spend most of your time doing for PARC?
Honestly? Probably reading about rape culture, and writing and posting about it. I am grateful for the scant upside to the influx of rape accounts that have garnered enough media attention to produce a lot of dialogue about rape culture, and I could (and just about do) read about it all day… "Rape culture” as a phrase began as something of a term of art, though is now becoming a familiar part of the common lexicon, in no small part due to the amount of journalism and media coverage dedicated to the topic. So many whip-smart people are writing about rape culture, and giving me material and inspiration for my work with PARC.
What do you enjoy doing most at/with PARC?
Huh. I’d like to say something along the lines of “fighting rape culture one blog post at a time”, but really it’s more self-serving: I enjoy most that in the thick of absolutely horrific rates and manifestations of rape and an accompanying culture that trivializes, naturalizes and excuses rape, I have a space to come together with a group of people who not only understand and share a powerful sadness and fear and anger around rape culture, but who also inspire and buoy me with their dedication and spirit through this struggle to challenge and change this culture.
What do you do outside of PARC?
I’m a massage therapist, so I spend a good deal of my time and earn my income from bodywork. While many may assume/guess little overlap between the two fields of body-centric therapy and rape culture, I see some areas of convergence. Body awareness and literacy are two things I hope to encourage and instill in my clients, and simultaneously they are things that I think can and do play a significant role in identifying and articulating boundaries, and are integral to healing of the body and self, both in their tangible and intangible forms. There also exists a nice gulf between my two work spheres, and I savor the change in work content and setting as rejuvenative and refreshing.
Why PARC, and not a different organization?
It’s funny, all through my graduate training I oscillated in my academic leanings between many varied foci. Whether it be immigration issues, reproductive rights, or poverty, I often felt equally pulled amongst all the different concentrations vying for my attention. And then Steubenville happened, and I began talking with friends and family and acquaintances, and then Christine said she was starting a group, and I soon found myself engaged with something that spoke to me more and deeper than any other. Pretty soon it became clear and I began to realize that gender-based sexual violence and its antecedents/promoters engaged me more than any other endeavor. In particular the culture around this violence warranted my time and energy more than any other aim I could have taken.
What or how would you like to see develop for PARC in the next year?
A lot! We’re so nascent that at this point we have many big milestones to accomplish as quickly as we can. For starters, recruiting a supportive and effective Board of Directors and getting some funding are at the top of my list.
Biggest villain in rape culture these days?
Rape apologists and people who use their platforms of power, be they media or legislative, to reinforce and reproduce structures and practices that promote a culture that sees rape as inevitable and natural and something that victims have to be responsible for.
Conversely, biggest hero?
The people speaking out. The women and men who write about their stories, challenge myths and hate speech, and galvanize others to join along, all fully aware of the visceral pushback they will get from groups that don’t want to acknowledge and change rape culture.
You can have any 3 people come to PARC’s weekly wednesday night meeting. Who are they? (And what snack/drink do they bring? PARC is after all pretty serious about our refreshments)
I would just love to have VP Biden come by, so we can talk about his White House Task Force addressing sexual assault on campuses. This is a great leap forward, but it could be made better and so much more effective with more mandatory sanctions, and who better to talk to about this then Biden?
Oh wait, Senators McCaskill and Gillibrand. OBVI. I am so impressed with their commitment to creating cultures of accountability, safety and respect on campuses and in the military! And they all bring variety platters of pickled veggies and interesting craft beers because what this is my dream scenario, right?
Favorite or one of your favorite sources of hope/joy/inspiration/commentary re: rape culture?
Hanging out with people who get it. By it I mean me. Just kidding! Rape culture is everywhere, and that is discouraging and overwhelming often. So for me, being around people who also recognize and challenge it, and especially in funny ways, is helpful. Luckily I am rich in great friends and family, and find never-ending encouragement and laughter in them. The writings of Soraya Chemaly and a host of folks at Jezebel, Louis CK’s stand-up on the dangers of dating men, talking to my sister for longerthanIcaretodisclosehere on the phone and the end of PARC meetings where we linger a little longer over refreshments and relax into catching up with each other. There’s a lot of talk of pets, travels, partners (past, present and lusted for), and food. Pretty good way to wind up your Wednesday : )
Coffee or tea? Pulp or no pulp?
Coffee sometimes, tea everyday, and I’d take the pith and the peel along with the pulp. What?
Thing that everyone loves but you?
I’d like to say first I love my bestie Haley for coming up with this categorical endeavor, and my list of don’t-loves includes: peanut butter (all nut butters, really), macaroni and cheese, the music of U2 and the Police, and the movie Almost Famous. While we’re at it (can you tell I can tend towards the contrary?), I also do not love cooking in a group, playing frisbee, or sweet things for breakfast.
Favorite time of day and what are you doing then?
Dusk in the summers makes me swoon! I’m most likely walking my dog, thrilling at lightning bugs, and thinking about dinner. Also drinks. Dinner and drinks. What? I said it’s summer and that pairs well with beer.
Do you have any Pets Against Rape Culture? Pics or it’s not true…
Of course he’s against rape culture! Duh.