Illustration: Izabella Balcerzak

Looking back on past anti-sexual violence organizing

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By Hannah Argumedo-Stenner

Panelists looked back at efforts to increase anti-sexual violence organizing at Ryerson’s Action Comes in Waves event on Tuesday.

This event is part of the ongoing workshops and talks for Ryerson’s eighth annual Social Justice Week.  

Action Comes in Waves: Reflections on Anti-Sexual Violence Organizing is part of Feminist Hour, a monthly gender-justice talk organized by a collaboration between the Consent Comes First Office and Ryerson Student Affairs Office.

This talk introduced five women who are challenging the dominant discourse around sexual violence. These women explained that whether you’ve been part of the movement since the 1980s, like panelist Giselle Basanta, or since April, like the youngest panelist Sara Escallon-Sotomayor, it is never too late to take up issues you have with the system.

What needs to be done

Each speaker had their own recommendations for what needs to be done in order to enact real change. University of Toronto professor Beverly Bain brought up the issue with policing and protecting women.

“When you start locating sexual assault in the center of criminalization [you appoint] a criminal institution to be responsible for investigating practices,” she said. “We really have to rethink sexual assault, and how we understand sexual assault and how we want to support people who have been raped and sexually assaulted.”

Andy Villanueva, a film director and community activist, encourages everyone to separate themselves from their work. “You invest so much time and energy into this work that you don’t make room for it to be collaborative,” reminding the crowd that making room for others can increase the impact and reach of our work.

She also reminded the audience about the burden that comes along with making a change. “To succeed it means that you are going to have to have conversations with people who don’t see you,” said Villanueva.

All of the speakers said that there is a lot of work to be done—however, this should not deter anyone looking to get involved. Escallon-Sotomayor said, “Activism is ultimately the integration of your moral values into your everyday actions, and I think that’s something that everybody is capable of.”

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