As an avid reader and writer, I find peace when I find a really fantastic book that helps me think about an issue that has been on my mind. After three years reading articles in Gender Studies, a degree in Creative Writing, and two years of helping manage a campus women's centre and many more pondering difficult issues of gender, violence and sexuality, I took for granted that a really thorough, thoughtful, readable book about sexual assault was "out there." As it turns out when I went to find one to read and review for my blog, it is not. But then again, who wants to take a year to do nothing but write a comprehensive book on sexual assault, in vain hopes of making it interesting and accessible for the mainstream?
Oh wait. I do.
While authors such as Malcolm Gladwell (The Tipping Point, Blink) have endeavored to make complex ideas engaging and readable, bloggers and writers such as Sarah Haskins (Target: Women) and Anita Sarkeesian (Feminist Frequency) have strove to bring issues of gender, race and sexuality to mainstream media through the internet. My aim is to do both through a book, blog and vlog that is as open-source (pay-what-you-can or free) as possible. This book needs to exist for both men and women, survivors and friends of survivors, because sexual assault effects us all.
In more detail, the book I want to write will:
Be a resource for starting to understand and create informed opinions on the subject:
-give statistics and reflection upon the statistics (not taking stats at face value but will try to put them in as much context as possible)
-contain interviews and research from most knowledgeable and recent resources possible
-include controversial opinions, including those of the religious right, men's rights groups, etc
-give comprehensive overviews of theories and history of theories as they've fallen in and out of vogue
-address a broad range of sexual assault and see them as connected, though unique "“ from harassment to stalking to media portrayals of sexualized violence, to date rape to rape in war and genocide.
Tackle (Western) cultural assumptions about
-why it happens (eg: it's not just about sex "“ so then what?)
-who it happens to (not just women)
-who does it (eg: it's not "monsters" hiding in bushes- it's otherwise normal people "“ so who?) - -what happens next "“ survivors, the justice system, counselling, etc.
-is this "normal?" Is there/ has there been a society with no sexualized violence?
- What if we (as a society) have more assumptions about sexual assault than real knowledge? Why? How?
-Why is something that so much of everyday life based upon so hushed up, misunderstood, in the dark?
-What happens when we start debunking myths, changing stigmas, and start talking about it openly?
- What is/are the difference(s) between a culture with a high instance of reported sexual assault and a low instance? What causes these differences, and what are the results?
Make the topic accessible
-written in plain, frank, and engaging language "“ written from a first-person point of view so that I am literally learning alongside the reader. Does not have to be completely somber but rather takes the subject seriously while exploring it with a sense of openness and curiosity.
-written with all genders in mind "“ anyone who is willing to contemplate sexual assault's place in our society will hopefully find something enlightening, educational, myth-diffusing in it.
-is written in such a way that aims to be less triggering for survivors: limited violent scenes, etc.
-takes an anti-oppression stance where I will try to check my biases and assumptions as much as possible, and write as inclusively of intersecting oppressions as possible.
Contains perspectives from many "“sometimes conflicting- sources (both interviews and research)
-feminist, sex and gender theorists
-other academia (though made concise and readable)
-citizens of high instance per-capita and low per-capita areas "“ both men and women's perspectives
-Cultural assumptions, across cultures
Has a bias "“ as all books do.
-Acknowledges this bias as much as possible
-Uses anti-opression research methods and methodology
-Takes an unapologetic anti-opression and sex-positive stance
-Takes a sociological perspective "“ refuses biological essentialisation of any race or gender
-Is written by a woman (me) but aims to address men's issues, perspectives and experiences as well as possible
Will decidedly NOT be (as all of these have been done many times before)
-A "how to avoid assault" book
-A "real life survivor stories" book
-A "how to deal with the after-effects" book (I am NO therapist)
-A "women are victims, men are perpetrators" book
-An academic text, though could be useful particularly in first-year post-secondary classes
I have the drive and skills to do this. I have managed to save $5,000 of my own money to help me do this. But I will need funding for:
1. Researching, blogging, networking, writing first draft (4 months - $4000)
2. Writing second draft, blogging, creating online content (6 months - $6000)
3. Travel for research, promotion, interviews ($?)
a. Each book will cost me about $10.00 CAN to print
b. Editing $200-500
c. Cover design $200-500
d. Conversion to EPUB (e-book) $?
5. Running website, selling/giving/shipping books ($?)
ReAudio-recording the book, burning to CDs (?)
This is where you come in, gentle funder. If this sounds like a project that you would like to see come to completion, please fund generously in exchange for some awesome thank-you incentives. This can't happen without you! Thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart, in advance.
- François Arsenault
- Mira Pinkus
- Louise Gadd
- Bhavana Nancherla
Clay A. G. Nikiforuk