Listen Close to What We Say (because this type of shit happens every day)

One of my favorite podcasts, RISK!, has a story of mine live as part of this week’s show, “Rejection.” Please listen to it if you have a corner of time open.

Not long after the episode posted, a woman commented, chiding the host, and me, for running a story that, according to the commenter, made the question of consent too ambiguous for comfort. She found the story distasteful especially given the recent rash of horrific revelations about various men in Hollywood and the media using their power to prey on, assault, abuse, and sexually manipulate women.

But the truth we sometime victims, survivors, and allies have trouble admitting is that sex is complicated. Consent is complicated. It’s dangerous to say that we can communicate our approval without words, because far too many people (mostly men) use implied consent to take advantage of others–whomever, whenever they want. It’s tempting to draw bold, stark lines when it comes to issues like these, because the need to protect the oppressed is so dire. What collateral damage is done with this simplistic approach may seem easy to write off, or to justify in light of the good done.

The broad brush terrifies me, though. I’ve always been one of those people who exists in the grey area, in a lot of different ways. People like me get hurt and get lost when the world turns black and white. Stories like mine get misinterpreted, written off, or disappeared. This doesn’t mean I don’t have a conscience. It doesn’t mean I don’t stand up for myself or others when it’s my place, and when I feel called to do so. I’ve just lived the exception to the rule too many times.

As the host, Kevin Allison, says after my story on the podcast, the important thing is that we keep listening to each other. Keep listening to each other’s stories. Try to listen closely, without preconceived notions. That’s the only way we can ever begin to understand each other, love each other, and treat each other with the care we deserve.


***POSTSCRIPT: After I addressed the commenter with my concerns, she apologized for superimposing her pain onto my story. I accepted her apology. That was a lovely moment in a medium that’s too often too hasty and remote to account for our own real beating hearts. A happy ending, friends… ❤ ❤ ❤

Tell it like it is.

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