Female Blackout: A Response
I've been thinking a lot lately about the myriad of ways in which victims and survivors are silenced. From the outright to the subtle. Maybe it's a friend changing the subject when a person is "being a downer" other times people must silence themselves just to stay alive another day.
Trauma is a minefield and it can be exhausting to navigate both for victims and survivors, for friends and family. It turns a person's world and the worlds of the people close to them upside down. It is messy and terrifying and real and fluid. But most of all, it should never be silent.
Like many of you, two days ago I received messages urging me to participate in a female blackout on Facebook. Some of you did so and I do respect that. Silence can be a powerful statement. But I chose not to. As I saw the messages flashing in I thought, how triggering would this feel to people and communities whose voices have been silenced in the past and continue to be silenced today, to be urged to disappear for a day?
Violence and trauma is never "black and white". It's nuanced and layered and complicated and confusing. And it's generational, too. Trauma can be passed down in the form of violence and silence. When the violence is linked to institutions that other people consider "safe" like hospitals and schools, it can be difficult to understand why some people don't want to "pull themselves up by their bootstraps". Consider Canada's Residential School System. For many survivors and their children, no matter how "safe" and "inclusive" we may try to make our classrooms today, the very way in which we deliver education in these institutions can seem (and be) dangerous. Trauma and generational trauma can be a barrier to education, health, safe housing, to all the basic human rights many take for granted.
"Your profile photo should just be a black square so that men wonder where all the women are."
Let's instead consider what a world WITH women looks like. Women and survivors of all kinds, who push up, push down, push through. Who break the silence time and time again. Powerful, resilient, outspoken people. Who choose to be heard and who hear you.