I Know the Coolest Peeps (I learn so much from you). Alex Cordrey, Lisa Jones, Me First, thank you to all who read my recent blog about rape culture and ideas for how to change it. If you missed it,¬†click on Dreamy Ryan Gosling to get up to speed. ūüď∑ Sexual assault isn't a comfortable or pleasant thing to read about. But you didn't just read my blog post¬†did you, you brave and amazing people? Nope. You didn't. You engaged. You discussed. You liked,¬†you shared. You overwhelmed me¬†with¬†an outpouring of support online, in private messages, in texts, and in phone calls, and I want thank you. ūüď∑ Here's the thing:¬†I am the first to admit I don't have all the answers. I want to LEARN, people!¬†Discussing with you--my virtual community--is one of the ways I learn best.The following is an excerpt from a discussion thread on my Facebook page.¬†It is just one example of the¬†many¬†different perspectives you've shared that have helped me clarify the way I think and talk about rape culture. I'm sharing it with permission:

Alex Cordrey: Thank you for your honesty and bravery. I'm sorry for all the shitty men out there. I had no idea that the dick pic thing was that much of a thing, and I'm wondering what is wrong with all these... not-men... Males? My guess is that it might also have to do with buried shame. For many of us, our first experience of our penis is having part of it hacked off by a doctor. What message does that send a baby? Then many of us pick up cues from our mothers or others that there's something dirty and shameful about our penises. Many of us suffered the mortifying mix of constant boners, sweat pants, and middle school blackboards. Then, when the Internet provides an opportunity for perceived safety through anonymity, we jump at the chance to wave our wangs around. Just thinking out loud, and inviting a dash of compassion for the douche bags out there. I'm trying my best to teach my son that women are to be honored, boundaries are to be respected, sex can be beautiful, and his penis is nothing to be ashamed about.

Jane Alvey Harris: Thank you for writing this, Alex. I've thought the same things, because it comes from somewhere. The people who told me shaming things actually believed them. I don't think that every guy who is disrespectful to a woman does it with some manipulative mastermind plan to dominate the entire free world. Women AND men have inherited rape culture, and we can work together to change it.

Alex Cordrey: I Just tried to edit out the "compassion" but but you read it already. ūüė¨ Compassion is an inside job, I don't feel right "inviting" that. I'm just trying to understand myself.. Wtf is wrong with dudes? ūüď∑ Jane Alvey Harris: No, Alex. I agree, I really do. The dick pic thing is,¬†I think, about power and manipulation. I don't think anyone believes that's how we gain favor or "hit" on someone. **Click on the censored dick pic on the right¬†to see how apparently that is EXACTLY whatsome men think** ¬†Obviously it's not like this student, for example, wanted to date me. But he's gotten more than one message from somewhere that it's an ok thing to do, so he did it. And it wasn't helpful for me to call him a douche bag. We have to understand and have compassion if we are going to teach change. I edited the blog post to say "because they're behaving like a douche bag." Thanks for your thoughtful response.

Lisa Jones: Jane and Alex, I am also perplexed by the dick pic thing! Thankfully, I had no idea this was a regular occurrence. I don't consider myself particularly sheltered either. Again, my first response is to ask WTF is wrong with these creeps? However, I also agree Alex, that perhaps there is buried shame and trauma as well as a need for power and control. This is all helpful (and scary) to think about as I raise my 10 year old son. We have intentionally tried never to shame him about his body and normal body stuff. We are also trying to instill the importance of everyone's body is their own property and is not to be touched etc without your permission. And the importance of respecting other people and their bodies.

Jane Alvey Harris: Very well said, Lisa! I have wondered if a man thinks it's flattering to send a woman he doesn't know a picture of his erect penis, like "you are so hot I got a hard on" sort of thing. But if that's what they think, we need to change it. I don't object to receiving compliments from men. I'm not complaining about when a man politely asks someone out on-line or in person and then respects their answer. But to ask and then ignore the response? That's a problem. That is about power and intimidation.

Lisa Jones: Yes! And this is slightly off topic, but also let's celebrate that we are all sexual beings (at least once puberty hits) and that is normal and good, not shameful! There is no need to feel ashamed or sinful or something about sexuality and normal sexual feelings and arousal and engaging in consensual sexual activity with either oneself or others. I wonder if the whole taboo in some cultures of sexual activity of various kinds leads to some kind of shame, guilt, repression, etc that then comes out in weird ways like sexual assaulting people....(Emphasis added because what Lisa just said is SO INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT).

Jane Alvey Harris: SO MUCH THIS!! It isn't off topic AT ALL. The two have to be connected. Your son is lucky to have you. We can make a difference one child at a time <3 ūüď∑ So, to sum up: Lisa said some HELLA important things about sexuality and where shame comes from.¬†Alex helped me remember that nothing gets accomplished when we fight, and that (just maybe) it isn't helpful to shame and blame¬†others in a post about buried shame and blame.It's the same with every hot, divisive issue. Whether¬†we are divided along gender lines, politics,religion, sexual orientation, or race, progress isn't made until we lay down our weapons, stop blaming, and start treating each other with RESPECT. Even though it may not seem like it at first glance, we usually all want the same end result. What we argue¬†so violently about is how¬†to achieve it.Once again, a huge thank you to YOU. Gosh dang you give me hope for the future. ūüď∑

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