It is the core of Restorative Justice that an offender must accept responsibility for the harm that they have caused.By Michelle Carroll For the past few years, the college sexual assault movement has been unable to answer a simple question: what do we do with people who commit sexual violence? In 2015, Dana Bolger of Feministing asked her readers to consider whether incarcerating a segment of the male population is a viable solution. She highlights a 2015 study from JAMA Pediatrics that she argues successfully challenges the movement’s assumption that a majority of campus sexual violence is perpetrated by repeat offenders, and that in reality, only 25% of campus sexual violence is committed by repeat offenders. Instead, a significant portion of campus rapes are committed by men who rape only once in their college career (this study finds that 10.8% of a university’s male population are ‘one time’ offenders). Bolger concludes her article by arguing that it is not feasible to lock up nearly 11% of the male population in the hopes that by isolating the “real criminals” from our population, we can eradicate campus sexual violence. I agree with Bolger’s conclusion. But, not with her reasoning. Beyond the logistical difficulties, incarcerating 11% of our university male population will further solidify the United States as the most prolific country in rates of mass incarceration. And we know that our criminal justice system actively perpetrates institutional racism and terrorizes communities of color. Black people in this country are five times more likely to be imprisoned than their white counterparts, and Hispanics are imprisoned at double the rates of white people. If we want to radically transform our campus communities and eradicate the cultural norms that underpin sexual violence, imprisoning more black and brown people will only sustain this system of violence. The answer to college sexual assault is not to replicate the racism of our penal system in colleges and universities, but rather to initiate a prevention and response strategy that prioritizes healing for the victim, perpetrator, and the whole community. What do we do with people who commit sexual violence on college and university campuses? The answer is to employ Restorative Justice techniques.
What Restorative Justice Isn’tWhen I was a junior at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, there was a public incident of sexual harassment. A male sports team rated women as they walked through the center of campus during the middle of the afternoon. Within hours the entire student population had heard. I didn’t see the team rate women, but I certainly discussed the team’s behavior in conversations with my fellow Women’s Center members as well as on Facebook. However, the college didn’t release a statement or explanation to the student body. As anyone who attended college knows, sexual violence investigations and sanctions are sacrosanct—you may hear about the incident, but you’ll never hear about the aftermath. In this case, our college Title IX coordinator reached out to me to design a Women’s Center conversation around catcalling so that the team could attend and hear the perspective of their female peers. To no one’s surprise, the conversation was a disaster. The team came ready for a fight, bringing female reinforcements to testify in Franklin and Marshall’s Women’s Center that “No, catcalling doesn’t bother me” and “I know I look good when I’m catcalled.” The conversation lasted for an hour and at the end, neither the team nor the Women’s Center members felt heard or supported. Everyone left the room angry and I spent the afternoon sobbing in my dorm room.
Listen to trans women who come forward and give us the resources we need to heal.[TW: description and mention of r/pe, PTSD and transmisogyny.] The weekend of August 24th, 2018 marks 5 years since I was raped in my dorm room at Temple University in Philadelphia. My life was completely turned upside down by the assault, my dreams shattered and I’ll never get to achieve them. Everything I wanted to happen, won’t. Is it possible to reflect on something too much when it completely reshaped my life and the dreams and vision I had for it? No, I don’t think so. When I first reported what happened, it wasn’t by choice—no, a bureaucrat in Temple’s Residential Life office had forced me to tell that story. They caused me to go through something that was a violation in its own right, for me. They forced me to relive—multiple times—one of the most violent experiences of my life. I remember that day in the bureaucrat’s office like it was yesterday. It’s painful to be able to relive the experience, I relive the trauma that was dealing with reporting the rapes every day; although the rape itself has fortunately slightly faded from my memory. I still remember it, I still weep and mourn that day, yet I don’t feel its pangs as much anymore. I hope that, one day, I can even stop mourning. Is it possible that my life wouldn’t have been completely overturned by the rape if I was given the proper treatment? Yes. I don’t simply guess at the idea that my life would have turned out differently had I been given the proper resources, I know that it would have been. Colleges—despite their legal responsibility— aren’t equipped with the tools to provide adequate rape treatment and, trans women are not served as a population by rape counseling services. It’s known that rape survivors who get treatment, whatever that treatment may be, have better chances of recovering from their rape and have reduced PTSD outcomes. However, I didn’t receive that treatment. My school didn’t provide resources that actually met the needs I had post-rape, it also never provided the resources I needed to deal with unrelated stalking incidents either, it just didn’t have me on their radar. They made this clear when they told me that they didn’t provide services to survivors of rape and stalking with me later finding out that, in fact, they did. Another, more helpful, bureaucrat in the college let me know that they’ve helped people before.
Related: DON’T BE A TERF: TRANSMISOGYNY 101
As a fan of "Jessica Jones" I am calling for more. By Michelle Carroll Spoiler Alert: This article discusses specific scenes and overarching themes in season two of Netflix’s "Jessica Jones". I am new to the expansive Marvel Universe. My interest was
The Harts were hideous monstrosities of unbounded proportions.
[Content Warning: child abuse, anti-Blackness, state violence, murder of Black children, suicide.]
Years of reported child abuse claims, including physical harm and starvation, recently culminated in the death of an entire family. Sarah and Jennifer Hart drove their SUV off a California roadside cliff with their adopted children inside. Three of the children were found among the car wreckage along with the two women — Markis (19), Abigail (14), and Jeremiah (14). The other three remain unfound and are presumed dead, possibly washed out to sea. They are Hannah (16), Sierra (12), and Devonte (15).
Investigators now believe that the crash was intentional, citing the fact that the speed was set at 90 mph and the lack of skid marks, but Black people knew it in our spirit all along. From the moment the story broke, we fucking knew it. We sat and watched as others speculated about it, giving these two abusive, murderous white women the benefit of the doubt after they had driven their adopted Black children off a 100-foot cliff.
We knew it in 2014 when Devonte Hart, with tears welling up in his eyes, was photographed in a tentative embrace with a white cop at a Black Lives Matter rally and the image instantly went viral. Other photos from that day show that Devonte was already in tears even before he was approached by the cop. In Sgt. Bret Barnum’s own account of the event, he states that the boy was “hesitant” to speak to him, but he persisted with the conversation and ultimately asked for the hug.
Devonte’s body language in the photos spoke volumes to us. It felt like coercion. It felt like a 12 year-old Black boy, who was at a rally to protest the Grand Jury's failure to indict Darren Wilson for the murder of Mike Brown, was afraid to speak to a white police officer, but was pressured into doing so anyway as others surrounded him and took the opportunity to snap the perfect “feel good” photo. And we were not at all surprised when Sgt. Barnum was later caught up in a controversy for publicly showing his support of Darren Wilson on Facebook.
We know what it looks like when Black people are being used as a tool of performative allyship and white liberalism. Devonte was made a spectacle and used as propaganda, by his guardian who accompanied him and by every person who shared the image of his obvious pain with musings about how racial togetherness and free hugs would magically solve all of the world's issues and end racialized state violence.
One of his guardians seized the opportunity to write about the viral photo on Facebook, saying that they attended the rally in hopes of “spreading love and kindness, and to remind (ALL) people that they matter in this world.” The Harts failed Devonte and his siblings in more ways than one.
This is why performative white allyship is so dangerous, and not just for the Black and non-Black kids who get adopted by them. It is insidious, to say the least, when “good white folks” impersonate someone who truly cares about anti-racism work, even as they continue to uphold white supremacy in their words and actions, and continually harm people of color.
We witness this ally theater daily, both in our communities and on the larger world's stage. We see the way that people like the Hart couple insulate themselves with people of color as tokens and trophies to provide themselves an alibi for their racism.
We see the way they fetishize Martin Luther King, Jr. and a non-violent stance, whitewashing and re-writing his legacy to present an ahistorical vision of the civil rights leader who ultimately saw the validity of violence as a form of resistance, because they plugged their ears after “I have a dream.”
Their white saviorism complex is painfully obvious, a perpetuation of the colonialist and imperialist self-aggrandizing belief that people of color always need white people to save us, even from the white supremacy that they actively participate in and continually benefit from.
And how dare we not bestow accolades upon them for “liberating” us? We, deadpan as they explode into tears and go on social media rants when people of color don't fall to our knees and thank them profusely for being gracious enough to do work on our behalf. We hear them scream, “I've always been good to you negroes” before exiting stage left in a huff.
We side-eye the ones who are so glaringly only “progressive and forward-thinking” because they see it as a trend, like their avocado toast and the aesthetics that they appropriated from hood Black girls. They list social justice work that they never actually did on their resume and OkCupid profiles for social capital, and pats on the back, and so they can more easily fuck the people color that they fetishize.
The “I’m not like other white people” declarations don't fool us. These special snowflakes take up so much fucking space as they fall over themselves trying to obscure their own privilege and disassociate themselves from the white supremacist violences of the past, present, and future.
We roll our eyes at the white allies who demand our intellectual and emotional labor and scream “It's your job to educate me!” only to take our words back to their white ally spaces to accept all of the credit, then block us on Facebook when we call them out for their intellectual thievery.
Every day is “Punish a Muslim Day” for islamophobes. By Hafsa Quraishi Remember when aspiring model, Resham Khan, was doused in acid on her 21st birthday in east London last summer? Or when a mosque in Victoria, Texas was burned to the