It isn’t wrong to look at a cisgendered female survivor of sexual violence and deem that, in addition to the cisgendered male perpetrator, toxic masculinity, a lack of female bodily autonomy, and the sexualization of female or female presenting bodies are to blame. It isn’t quite right, though, either.
Often, if not always, when we discuss sexual violence, we are quick to rely on our ingrained social expectations of gender and sex (both anatomical and actionable). We lean on heteronormativity to conceptualize the abusive relationship, real or hypothetical, in imagining only men and women together. We also, inherent in the aforementioned sentence, exhibit conventional, antiquated notions of gender, such that, even if we were quick to imagine two women or men together in sexually abusive relationships, most of us would be much slower to acknowledge a genderless or transgendered body on either end of the sexual violence process. It follows that our notions of gender roles are stereotyped along the imagined binary. Men are dominant and hyper-sexual, in essence, horny and powerful. Women, docile and virginal, either want sex when it happens or are powerless physically to say otherwise.
The issue, then, becomes the gay male, the lesbian female, the bisexual non-binary, that get caught in the asterisks of the one movement shining a light on the failed legal system and attempting to empower victims and survivors. Like any social movement, a lack of intersectional forethought leaves victims and survivors caught supporting a movement that fails to fully see and validate their struggle.
If we’re going to discuss sexual violence in the fullness of its horror, let’s at least be courageous in our choice of words, flexible in our understanding of diverse healthy sex that we understand its abused opposite, and bold in our shedding of social constructs that are structured to further victimize victims.
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