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I feel honored to have spoken out alongside so many brave survivors from our community today.  I have transcribed my statement below in hopes that it will help empower other people to speak up about their experiences with violence.

My name is Sarah-Kathryn Bryan, and I am in my second year at the University.

First, I’d like to thank everyone who has come to support the UNC-Chapel Hill community of sexual assault survivors, as well as those who could not attend today, but who have expressed their solidarity with survivors, and who continue to struggle with us for justice.  Several of us are primary or secondary survivors of sexual assault, but it is not necessary to recognize a shared experience of sexual assault in order to work together.

Today’s impressive attendance testifies to the potential strength of our Carolina community where society has previously failed us.  The act of coming to a Speak Out implicitly expresses a commitment to ending violence.  This commitment comes from the understanding that if sexual assault is even a conceivable threat to anyone, every one of us lives in a culture of violence in which none of us is invulnerable to violence in one form or another.

We must hold perpetrators of all forms of abuse (including sexual abuse, the abuse of state power, and cultural abuse) accountable for their actions.  And as a community, we must hold each other accountable for bringing perpetrators to justice in a way that benefits both the survivor and our community as a whole.  Any other outcome subjects survivors to renewed trauma and frustration.

I speak today as a non-reporting survivor.  The first time I was sexually assaulted, I was thirteen years old.  As a young person, I was not empowered to access the healthcare –let alone the sympathy– I needed in the wake of the assault.  Having been raised in a culture of violence that teaches victim-blaming even in the absence of comprehensive sexual education, I remained silent about the assault for months, and did not tell my parents for years.  I am only beginning to repair what damage the silence wrought on my interpersonal relationships.

Age is one of a host of factors that complicate a survivor’s ability to report a sexual assault.  To name a few, race able status, religion, gender expression, sexuality, age, and socioeconomic status make reporting any crime to the authorities less a matter of choice than of circumstance and courage.

In order to eliminate victim-blaming, which is the first step to holding perpetrators accountable and eliminating violence from our culture, we must support the methods of care and avenues to justice the survivors in our lives seek.  This may never be easy until we learn that because our struggle for justice and freedom from violence is a shared one, we disempower ourselves when we appropriate, ignore, or actively silence the struggle of our neighbor.

Sarah-Kathryn Bryan

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 27TH from 11AM-5PM
at the UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA at CHAPEL HILL
Seating is limited: REGISTER NOW

The goal of the Carolina Reproductive Justice Conference is to expose student activists championing various causes to the Reproductive Justice framework which we hope will provide the foundation to see how our “disparate” causes are in fact intersectional.

We aim to give our community a more inclusive lens through which we can view our own work and the work of others. Through this lens, we can come together to support one another, build strong cross-issue coalitions, and gain power as a collective voice and champion for all social justice issues.

As Students United for Reproductive Justice is invested in the reproductive health, rights and justice of all people, we want our fellow campus organizers and activists to understand how the issues that they champion–racial, economic, environmental, political etc.–also have a strong affect on people’s reproductive health and reproductive freedom.So come, one and all, for a day of workshops, speakers, and solidarity. Space for this conference is limited, so please REGISTER AS SOON AS YOU ARE ABLE

 

Feminist Students United (FSU) is a progressive feminist organization which affirms that no form of oppression can be overcome until all aspects of racism, classism, sexism, and heterosexism are dismantled. We acknowledge intersecting identities and strive to be mindful of these intersections in all our work. We endeavor to create an environment which is non-hierarchical and supportive in nature, and we work to bring about change in our community through education, outreach, direct action and community organizing.

Weekly Meetings

Spring 2015: Wednesdays at 7:30 PM in Murphey 202

For a better look at events, check out FSU's Calendar

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contact us

uncfsu AT gmail (dot) com