The recent opinion piece written by Brett Milam for The Miami Student regarding the feminist movement's battle against campus rape presents a few important critiques; however, the article expresses several dangerous opinions and makes misguided generalizations about the feminist movement and feminist efforts on this campus.
We agree that a white, middle class feminism counteracts the progress that our activism should be supporting. This is not the feminism toward which we aspire.
Despite Milam's assertions, we aim to embrace intersectionality in our feminism.
We work in solidarity with many social justice efforts on campus, and these efforts are not mutually exclusive to our efforts regarding campus sexual assault. People of all genders and identities across the world experience rape and sexual violence, and the wider feminist movement must work towards solving this issue.
As college students, campus rape and sexual violence pertain specifically to us.
We do not have the capability to tackle all feminist-related issues at once, and rape culture on our college campus presents an issue on which we can affect direct change.
The "It's On Us" campaign is a critical step towards realizing our goal of ending sexual assault and rape, and it calls on everyone, not just feminists or the feminist movement as a whole, to validate the stories of survivors and take action against these acts of violence.
Milam and Tate's arguments normalize unhealthy relationships and reinforce naturalized ideologies that cause rape culture. Milam's claim that affirmative consent represents a "conservative, Puritanical conception of sex" and makes sex unsexy is not only incorrect, but very dangerous.
Our feminism believes strongly in sex positivity and healthy, consensual exploration of pleasure. We believe an essential component of "sexy sex" is communication. Obtaining a verbal 'yes' does not have to interrupt the proceedings of a sexual interaction.
While consent should be part of sexual pleasure, the "sexiness" of sexual interactions must be secondary to obtaining consent. Consent is mandatory, regardless of how an individual feels this will affect their enjoyment. This concept is simply in line with the philosophy that an individual has no right to violate the rights of another human being, regardless of individual self-interest.
Furthermore, Milam's position that affirmative consent denies women their agency and encourages women to view themselves as victims reaffirms the problematic notion that blames survivors for their assaults.
Our feminism does not seek to censor differing opinions, as Milam asserted. On the contrary, we hope to provide spaces for people with marginalized and differing opinions to express their viewpoints. We embrace freedom of speech and condemn the expression of irresponsible, misinformed and damaging views from an elevated platform such as a campus publication.
Milam failed to contact us for additional perspectives or resources, and instead penned sweeping generalizations, citing Slate writers as if they were experts in the field.
We host an annual Take Back the Night March in which people of all identities can demonstrate commitment to ending rape culture. Milam should be aware that our fight against sexual assault and interpersonal violence is not a purely rhetorical effort.
Publishing an article with these misguided and dangerous notions demonstrates a lack of professionalism, ethics and thoughtful editing on the part of The Miami Student.
This occurrence is not singular, and continued errors by the publication prove a lack of commitment to responsible journalism. As feminists, we should constantly reevaluate our interpretation of and commitment to the movement.
We encourage constructive critiques and seek out diverse dialogues in order to always improve our feminism and its intersectionality. Self-reflection and improvement should be a goal of every organization, our organization and The Miami Student included.
The wider implications of Milam's latest comments, in addition to Tate's previous statements, should be critically considered.
A healthy campus with healthy students engaging in healthy sexual relationships will not be possible if voices supported by major campus platforms continue to reaffirm problematic blaming tactics and support dangerous relationship dynamics. This has been the status quo.
The "It's On Us Campaign" provided a campus-wide, ASG-supported opportunity to work on these issues for the first time.
If we truly want a progressive, safe and healthy campus, we need to better consider the consequences of our actions and words. We must work in solidarity to accomplish these basic goals that all members of the Miami community, not just feminists, should want for our campus.
People of all genders, races, classes, sexual orientations, ethnicities and abilities experience sexual assault and rape. People of all identities are affected by these issues.
People of all identities must work together to eradicate gendered violence and sexual assault from our campus. This campus belongs to all of us. It's time we work in solidarity to take control and ensure the rights, health and safety of everyone.
If you would like to get involved, F Word holds regular meetings every Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the Armstrong Student Center Community Lounge and we will be holding Take Back the Night on April 6.
This piece was submitted by The F-Word (Feminists working on Real Democracy) Executive Board.
Community Outreach Chair
Anna Lucia Feldmann
Social Activist Chair