Doing this again this year. Event page + more details coming soon.
Poster by Brian Vu / Hi-res version
opening for katrina stonehart tonight at mme claude— do not miss, berlin!
many of you already know that earlier this week, my past collaborator, friend, and peer in the writing community, Stephen Tully Dierks, has been outted as a sexual predator/rapist: multiple women (sophia katz and tiffany wines, primarily) have bravely spoken up, and shared their experiences of his actions. many people say they feel ill reading the various accounts, and i do too… to read their stories, please see this page: here
in response to this coming to light, many long discussions have arisen in the ALT LIT GOSSIP (SPREAD) facebook group and elsewhere around the web. other survivors of sexual assault and rape have been sharing their stories about their own rapists, and the support for victims across the board has seemed to me strong and uniform. there’s been a gawker article written abt dierks, and the admin/moderation of the ALG facebook group is being expanded too, to better deal with related issues. in some ways this feels, more than ever, like “the week that ‘alt lit’ stopped” (?), and that seems really appropriate. as sophia mentioned in a post after the initial dierks outing, “i see real change occurring.”
but there’s a lot more to discuss:
last month a similar outing happened, and i regret our community was not as quick to respond with uniform support for the victims then. i reblogged a tumblr post about it at the time, but i should have been more vocal with my platform. the details are not collected as comprehensively into 1 place, but Janey Smith (alias of Steven Trull), editor with Plain Wrap press and curator of literary readings in san francisco, was outted for a bunch of creepy and abusive behavior. as with dierks, he was abusing his position of power as an editor in our community. i haven’t seen any inkling of an apology or even any acknowledgment of wrongdoing from janey. some links surrounding the incidents with Janey Smith (Steven Trull): here, here, and here
more follow-up conversations keep emerging out of this week, including conversations around this disturbing set of tweets by E.R. Kennedy, about his romantic relationship with tao lin, which was the subject of tao’s 2010 book “richard yates.”
there’s so much to think about when reading these accounts. it’s important to clearly condemn the individuals responsible for these actions, and it also makes me think very critically about our community as a whole, about my responsibility to it, and even about male sexuality more broadly. but perhaps the main thing that many of us need to think critically about right now, especially men, is the issue of CONSENT in our own lives. popular conceptions of consent in our society may be getting better, gradually, but most are still inadequate.
many people believe having consent just means that a person didn’t say “no” to your sexual advances, but this is a wrong understanding, and i think it’s an understanding which has allowed countless men to rationalize unwanted sexual advances, sexual assault, and rape. it seems widely believed that returned touching or something like moaning can imply consent, but that is a dangerous understanding, as many of the stories around stephen tully dierks illustrate. this short blog post by andrea kneeland talks about this in a way that i found very clear and helpful, and i recommend reading it
many of the public discussions about consent over the past few days have highlighted the need for *Enthusiastic Consent* specifically. not just the absence of a “no,” not just silence, not a “yes” that was pressured out of you, not a “yes” when you’re totally drunk. Enthusiastic Consent.
i want to try to end this post with some specific tips about consent in sexual situations. these are things i have gradually learned, mostly by having my own false assumptions challenged in conversations:
1. AIM TO MAKE IT EASY FOR THE PERSON TO SAY “NO,” and to remove themself from the situation. PLEASE realize: whether or not you get to have sex doesnt matter that much !!! compared to the other person’s comfort and safety !!! it’s bizarre how highly men especially can prioritize sex, it doesn’t make any rational sense. i think we must make a solid decision that having sex is just not that crucial. it’s not going to make you more of a “man” if you get to have sex, it’s not going to enrich your life so much or be something that changes your life. it’s entirely 100% COMPLETELY more important that you are sensitive to the other person in the situation. make it easy for them to say no.
2. BE AWARE OF THE LANGUAGE WITH WHICH YOU ASK FOR CONSENT. catalina and i have talked about this a bunch in our relationship, and the example i have in mind is pretty basic. i used to regularly ask her, “can we do [sexual thing]?” but even tho i was asking for consent, i learned that was not the best way to ask. she expressed that she often felt kinda pressured to say “yes” when i used that language, because the sentence was a request, almost a similar form as pleading or begging. we’ve found it’s much better to ask, “do you want to do [sexual thing]?” because it’s more like a way to just frankly address whether she’s interested or not. but then, maybe even more important:
3. BE AWARE OF HOW YOU RESPOND TO SOMEONE SAYING “NO.” if you make noises of disappointment when the person says no, or if you keep trying to convince them, that’s pretty crappy, it’s trying to pressure someone into doing sex things when they don’t want to. in those moments of rejection, you should just accept it immediately. you should try to convey clearly that it’s totally ok. maybe say it in a happy tone, or suggest something else (like watching a movie, etc) in an excited tone, so the person doesn’t feel guilty or bad for turning down your sexual advances.
4. BE AWARE OF POWER IMBALANCES. be aware: if you’re older or more sexually experienced, you probably have more power. if the other person is staying at your home, you probably have more power. if you’re a man and the other person is not a man, you probably have more power. if the relationship is new and the person is nervous trying to make sure you like them, you probably have more power. if you fill some position of notoriety or status in the person’s job or school setting (or arts community!), you probably have more power. if more than one of these are true, you probably have significantly more power. you should be very extra aware and careful in these situations to not use any pressuring language (or actions), and to make it clear to the other person that you are 100% ok with not having sex. in some of those cases its probably best to just not seek sex at all! or wait a long time to see if the other person initiates or asks you first.
i hope this post is practical and helpful, the resources i linked to have been valuable to me personally. lets strongly condemn sexual assault and rape in our community, and strongly reflect on our own understanding of consent and our own potential to do harm as well. thank you again to sophia, tiffany, sarah, and others who have helped make this conversation happen.
sifting through these links this afternoon has been especially harrowing because it’s such a testament to the fact that our radical/progressive/arts communities are not immune to violence. it’s so insidious and makes me feel entirely unsafe.
Upcoming dates Europe // North America
10/08 - DE Hamburg @ Hasenschaukel
10/09 - DE Berlin @ Madame Claude
10/10 - DE Chemnitz @ Odradek
10/11 - BE Antwerp @ De Audio Plant
10/13 - DE Kassel @ Weinbergkrug
10/16 - F Paris @ Espace B
10/17 - F Grenoble @ Bauhaus Bar
10/18 - F Lyon @ Kraspek Myzik
Debut 12 inch LP available Nov 4th from Fire Talk Records
opening for this gem tmrw night at mme claude— rsvp