impolite lines

Sarah B. Boyle

Sarah B. Boyle is a poet.

Rape Culture - still a thing I talk about a lot

It's been about half a year since the alt lit rapes. In that time, questions and fights about misogyny in literature have only gotten bigger--in terms of their reach and consequences. In that time, I've also done so much reading my brain feels fit to burst with the sins of the patriarchy. I'm not so interested in rape culture anymore, per se, but the patriarchy as a whole. The more I read, the further I dig down, the more obvious it is that all those causes and fights against injustice that have swept me into their churning waves are part of one big monstrous sea: jail and prison work, the criminal justice system more broadly, education reform and its ugly brother ed deform, the school-to-prison pipeline, rape culture, and on and on. All the same beast, and that beast is bigger than just my personal list of where it's bumped against me. Typing this I feel like a fool, like this is a completely obvious thing to say. But perhaps it isn't to everyone?

The beast is misogyny, yes, but it's also white supremacism. Had I this essay to write again, I would write it differently. That's not an apology for the essay, or a retraction. Much of the analysis--particularly of the slipperiness of the alt lit pose--I stand behind wholeheartedly. I wrote that essay the best way I knew how, but I've read and listened and changed since then. The criminal justice system will not help us; it is an instrument of the patriarchy. Now, my thoughts increasingly turn to questions of community: how do we create communities strong enough to support and include those historically excluded? What is the difference between a community and clique? How do our cliques help reinforce the status quo? What will it take to pursue restorative justice strategies within our communities? 

Coming up this Tuesday in Pittsburgh, friends and I are presenting a panel discussion called Re-Centering Lit: Creating Inclusive Spaces in Print and Person where we will talk about all these issues in real life and not on the internet. (I stopped myself from saying "just on the internet" because there is no "just" about the internet. The internet is real. Many people do a lot of important and influential work on the internet. The way many of us continue to dismiss that work as "just" is another face of the beast of patriarchy.) Hopefully this is just the beginning of a conversation about how to reimagine our communities--local, long-distance, and online--and begin moving that conversation to center around those who have been on the edges. Or, maybe, we should just get rid of a "center" altogether?

Other things on the rape culture front include this amazing zine from the weekend event Where We Stumble: Dismantling Rape Culture put on by he Flying Object. I was a panelist at the event, and it was a long day but amazing to have so many people in one place confronting the same seemingly impossible problem. Read through that zine for how the organizers put the event together, notes and questions from the participants, and an annotated bibliography of related readings. If you don't have time to read everything in the bibliography--understandable, but there's so much good there, so if this is an issue you care about, you know, find the time--please read Bad Vibes by Amanda Mae Yee and Without Bureaucracy, Beyond Inclusion: Re-centering Feminism by Andrea Smith.