Gender violence edition
Content in this edition increases the voice and agency of people of
color and their eperiences with sexual assualt and gender violence.
Material may be especially triggering, please take the necessary
measures to take care of yourself. In the back of this edition,
resources should you want to seek help.
Gender violence includes rape, sexual assault, relationship violence
in heterosexual and same sex partnerships, sexual harassment,
stalking, prostitution and sex trafficking. The term “gender
violence” reflects the idea that violence often serves to maintain
structural gender inequalities, and includes all types of violence
against men, women, children, adolescents, gay, transgender
people and gender non conforming. This type of violence in some
way influences or is influenced by gender relations. To adequately
address this violence, we have to address cultural issues that
encourage violence as part of masculinity.
uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical behavior of a sexual
nature especially by a person in authority toward a subordinate
(such as an employee or student)
illegal sexual contact that usually involves force upon a person
without consent or is inflicted upon a person who is incapable of
giving consent (as because of age or physical or mental incapacity)
or who places the assailant (such as a doctor) in a position of
trust or authority
1 :to set free
Visual - Yemi Kolawole
Visual - Ashleigh Smith
Black Duke, We Need to do Better - Mumbi Kanyogo
Visual - Naomi Lilly
Done. - Anonymous
A’s Story - Anonymous
Poem - anonymous
Standbys - Adriana Parker
A Word From Krystal George
Curator - Nisha Uppuluri
Have A Nice Day
Black Duke, we need to do
“There is really no such thing as the ‘voiceless’. There are
only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard”
The #Metoo Reckoning
In a period of about 6 months we have witnessed numerous women come forward
to publicly document their trauma and expose the abusers who have violated them.
What began as Tarana Burke’s call for “mass healing” amongst sexual assault survivors
almost 10 years ago has turned into a global reckoning with the pervasiveness
of gender violence and societal complicity. We have been forced to contend with
how rape culture penetrates both public andprivate life in ways that morph even our
most intimate memories of family and childhood into painful reminders of the power
structures that govern our quotidian existence. The #metoo movement has shown
us that sexual abuse and rape are not faceless crimes with countless numbers of
statistical victims. It has taught us that sexual abuse and rape DO have perpetrators
who exist in the forms of both abusers and those who make their abuse possible.
It names silences as violence - it implicates those who prefer to unsee abuse and
promote a politics of respectability.
Yet, even while the frequency with which these men’s abusive actions are being exposed
appears to be high, these public revelations do not at all account for a statistic
that documents 1 in 5 women as having been sexually violated in their lifetimes
– it does not even dent it. And so we must ask ourselves: who is being deliberately
silenced? Who are we rendering preferably
Some Black Lives Matter
On my worst days here, the black community has been a source of joy and rejuvenation
that has kept me sane in a fast-paced, emotionally draining environment.
And on my best days, my black peers have celebrated me and loved me in ways
that I am not even able to account for. At a predominantly white institution where
blackness has been under threat from racist institutional violence and quotidian
microaggressions since our forebears set foot on this campus in 1963, our excellence
and happiness have always been our greatest offences against racist histories
and realities that are constantly working to displace us.
And yet it would be a lie for us to posit that the only threat to black life on this
campus exists as a result of white racism; it would be facetious for us to say
“Black lives matter” in opposition to racism, and not repeat the same for black
women and black queer, trans, poor, and disabled people in opposition to the cisheterosexism,
classism, and abelism that pervades this black community. And yet
we do not say the latter nearly as much as the former.
In the spring of 2016, the Chronicle published a statistical report on sexual violence,
which reported that 42% of black women on campus had been the victims
of some sort of sexual violence. In the aftermath of that release, I expected there
to be a wave of indignant outrage within our community. Faced with the evidence
that so many of our fellow black woman peers had been violated, I was waiting for
our community leaders to mobilize - to be angry. Instead, only a handful of women
made their outrage known in both online and physical spaces, and when I brought
up the statistics with one black man he simply replied, “don’t you know that women
will cry rape when a man so much as hugs them?”
Even though silence around sexual violence has always been pervasive in our
community, the type of indifference and lack of concern that was displayed in the
wake of that report has continued to astound me to this day. In a moment when
we were presented with statistical evidence of black women’s pillaging; in a moment
when we had the opportunity to begin a process of disavowing silence and
creating safe spaces for the most vulnerable in our community, the prevailing instinct
seemed to be to avoid responsibility and instead maintain silence.
That gendered erasure served to remind me that the realities of rape have never
been transformative or revolutionary for the majority of individuals. Afterall, we
live on a campus where stories of rape are heard at spoken word events and then
forgotten swiftly thereafter; on a campus where known abusers are permitted to
earn degrees and thrive socially within our communities. We live and learn on a
campus where sexual assault is a whitewashed idea – the archetypical victims
framed as white, cis, straight, panhellenic women. Therefore, our black woman
pain, laid out bare and raw on stages and blog posts, has never been enough to
convince everyone around us that our bodies matter. That report, and the lack of
action in its wake, served to make it abundantly clear that in the appraisal of reputation
and power versus the safety of black women’s bodies, black women, more
often than not, lose.
Therefore, I want to interrogate why this type of silence and the larger structure of
rape culture continue to exist within our community.
How does this erasure manifest?
Embedded in this community is a dangerous desire to maintain black unity at all
costs. It is almost impossible to critique certain organizations or individuals, and
those who do so are often ostracized, even when one is rightfully criticizing the
highly elitist, cisheteronormative, and sexist behaviors that push many of us further
into the margins. It is uncritical and facetious to believe that we are all marginalized
in the same ways – to ignore the fact that many of us cannot breathe in
this community that is supposed to be our safest space.
As black women, our genders and sexualities are treated as negligible and divisible
from our experiences of blackness. The fact that we are the ones charged with
both healing from trauma and then correcting the same violent behaviors that hurt
and disrupt our lives is indication enough that a singular blackness that is detached
from other manifestations of systemic violence, determines the disposition
of black life on campus – the type of oppression that we are willing to mobilize
This illogical approach to systemic violence results in the privileging of black,
heterosexual men’s wellbeing and this has been prominently exposed in the few
conversations around sexual assault that we have had. At one particular talk that
I hosted, as the discussion progressed, it became clear that the central concern
around sexual violence is how men can best avoid culpability as opposed to a
victim-centered approach that encourages ethical and mutually beneficial sexual
encounters. To put it more bluntly, the dominating concern seems to be “how
much access men can get to black women’s bodies without being held legally accountable
for their actions” when it should be “how best can we listen to women
and ensure that we are making our community safe for them.” At worst, this is a
violent erasure that sees black women’s bodies as collateral damage to men’s unnecessary
technical gymnastics in negotiating the clearly outlined parameters of
ethical sexual behavior.
At this critical moment when it is becoming painfully clear that this community
is not safe for all of us, we need to engage in a process of constructive critique
that ensures that those who are perpetuating violence, indirectly or directly, take
responsibility for their actions or lack thereof. It is not enough to hold event after
event about consent, even when we know that patriarchy is a fortuitous system
that manifests in diverse and normative forms in our daily lives. Breaking down
this system will require self-implication; it will require continued self-reflection
and critique as well as sustained community dialogue focused on creating accountability
and centering the voices of those who have been ravaged by sexual
violence. We need to undermine the oppressive systems that make it possible for
abuse to occur, the abnormal silence that makes it possible for men to pillage
without any fear of consequence. As feminist scholar Pumla Dineo Gqola makes
clear, this will require serious social sanctions that see us calling out violence just
as much as we call it in. We cannot continue to negotiate our safety using gentle
discourse when our loved ones continue to suffer silently. We cannot continue to
engage in a politics of respectability when 42% of the black women in our midst
exist on the margins, ignored and disrespected by a community that should be
fighting for them relentlessly and fearlessly.
Black Duke, we need to do better.
Video & Photography by
Where do I begin?
Thank you for saving me, time and time again
Thank you for guiding me, for teaching me how to pray
. But I can’t stand to watch you continue this way
You stress and toil daily
For a man who calls you“baby”
Yet constantly treats you like a slave
You slowly enter through the front door,
Knowing what little peace you had left is no more
And the monster emerges from his cave
He begins yelling and screaming, dragging you by your hair
With all of his might, and he doesn’t care
That two young children are broken, watching from the stairs
Your eldest child dials 9-1-1
Crying through the phone, “Please hurry, he has a gun.”
Where do I begin?
Please let this be the end.
A’s story begins in Europe, on a Duke sponsored research project last summer. She was
the only Duke undergraduate student there with their research team, which included a
graduate student from Duke Medicine. During a cultural festival, A, the graduate student,
and a few other friends went to participate in the festivities—everyone was drunk, and
the crowds were so big that A got separated from the people she went out with. As she
were trying to make her way back to their friends, two local men groped her. She was
shaken and afraid, and when she finally found everyone, she insisted on going home.
When they questioned her, she told them what happened. Her European project partner
didn’t believe her, saying that she was being overly sensitive and that the men hadn’t
meant any harm. However, the graduate student from her team believed her and insisted
that the group should accompany her home. She was relieved and grateful for his support,
and they went back home. When the group began to drink more, she thought, “Fuck
it,” and got really, really drunk. She wanted an escape from what had happened earlier.
She doesn’t remember much from the rest of the night, but later on began to remember
flashes of the student kissing her on the forehead in a hotel room later that night —but
she dismissed those memories, shaking them off.
A week later, the graduate student asked her to hang out. She said yes, remembering his
kindness during the festival and nervous-excited to date an older man. They began seeing
each, and things were shiny, new, bubbly in the way that new relationships are. They
kept in touch other even after returning to Duke, but as the relationship progressed, A
noticed some things about the graduate student that made her uncomfortable: he was
very pushy, physically. As their relationship became more physically intimate, she began
to feel as though he was only interested in his own sexual satisfaction, and not in her as
a person. They would have sex, and then he would sleep on the floor, saying he couldn’t
sleep next to people. He began to go into depressive and full of rage, and she would urge
him to consider his mental health. But when she brought up her concerns, he claimed he
knew what he was doing. The age differential led her to accept what he said. One night,
she told him she was having a rough time, and he invited her over to his apartment. He
rolled a joint, and told her they would share it, but kept pushing it onto her, insisting she
smoke more. She got so high she couldn’t move, uncomfortably high. He ignored her discomfort
for two hours and then when she was falling asleep, the graduate student took
the opportunity to force himself on her, violating her body in new and painful ways.
Afterwards, A began to distance herself from the graduate student. He started gas-lighting
her, telling her that she would fail in her career, that he was sleeping with other people
anyways, that he was horrified by her and attracted to her at the same time. When
she finally told him she wasn’t interested in hanging out with him anymore over dinner,
with no explanation he dragged her to the rooftop of the building they were dining in,
telling her there that she would regret leaving him, that she was the vindictive and defensive
one. Even after she cut off contact, he kept texting her – to insult her, to demean
her, and most often, to ask where she was.
A can’t tell her research team, because it would be her word
She also can’t share what happened to her with her family.
They would probably blame her.
So such things must remain secret.
I did not gift you my mind.
In a perfect world, you
would acknowledge that
there is no home for you
No pillow on which to lay
No mat for you at the
head of the table—
You would acknowledge
the absence of welcome
You would not overstay
You gaze upon these
brittle bones and you belly
You plant your flag in the
thin of my resistance.
This is not the way to take
up space, my love.
This is not the way to love,
Know that I gifted you my
body in a
I presented you with my
But this was never about
you, my love.
Why must you make it
about you, my love?
Why must you keep me
insinuations that this was
That is not the way to
love, my love.
By Adriana Parker
This poem may contain vulgar language and references to sexual assault
But don’t cover your ears
Y’all need to hear this shit
To the room full of bystanders who just stood by:
I hereby declare you garbage cans
And just downright disrespectful
Fuck all y’all
Ain’t no friends of mine
As if I needed your protection
I thought we been through this before
When the real work starts y’all quiet
I shouldn’t NEED your protection
But your snake ass homeboys
And one-off acquaintances should not try to slide their way between my legs
I mean, best not to be so finger lickin’ good right?
Best not to move too sexy and tickle his fancy
Don’t give him. no twerk when your song is on
Best not to have a drink
Or however many
I lost count
Best not to go out
Leave the comfort of my house
Just have a damn good time
And y’all wonder why I’m always inside myself
Lucky me I could fight it this time
Lucky me the blood only rushed to his second head
Lucky me I was only an almost not again
I swear #MeToo JUST left my lips so why do the bodies keep rising?
Now my curves feel more like curses
Having a pussy is automatic invitation to fuck right?
Let them prop you on a counter
Feel you up
Shake you down
Don’t dare fight back
Swallow this objectification and may it not burn your throat
May it be the sweetest sin you ever tasted
Now how is that for justification?
Well my ass was shaking I must have wanted it right?
“Yo shit fat ma let me get inside / You making me hard / Let us see what you look like”
Nigga your name ain’t Kanye
I ain’t ask for these flashing lights
Just trying to throw it back after a long week without you behind me
I didn’t want this
Bass too heavy like his hands around my neck
Like his niggas creeping up behind me even though I said no all night
But back to these bystanders
Would you have seen it if I were your sister?
Would you have checked it?
Would you have cast them out?
And now here I am again
Letting you know I’m fed the fuck up with smelling the bricks in this house named
Or rape culture
But what’s really in a name?
They all the same right?
I mean, y’all befriend rapists every day
Your girl probably a survivor and never told you
And I’m sick of this silence
Yours, theirs and even mine sometimes
I’m tired of the all talk and no action
Of the “we support the 1 in 5” but you always on standby with clean hands
Ain’t it funny?
I feel safer in the company of strangers than this prison we call home sometimes
Don’t you know I’ve worn tape around my body labelled trigger warning for years?
Can’t wash off this stink of humiliation no matter how hard I try
Tell me... can you smell it?
Is the reek appealing?
Or is it noseblind ignorance?
Is rape too bitter a pill?
Tell me... if for the first, second, almost third time around what would the bystanders do
had it been...
If you or a loved one has experienced or is currently
experiencing gender violence, the
following resources are available.
Durham Crisis Response Center
Orange County Crisis Center
Durham Coalition Against Gender Violence
National Sexual Assualt Hotline
Cousenling and Psychological Services Duke
Cousenling and Psychological Services UNC
Visual By Asheligh Smith
Women’s Cter Duke
Women’s Center Chapel Hill
Shifting the Culture By: Krystal George, MPA, CHES
What is sexual assault? What is consent? “Yes means Yes!” “Consent is
Sexy!” These are all questions and phrases that we ask, answer, and shout in
the world of gender violence prevention. On a college campus it is vital to educate
and make students aware of gender violence, with the hopes of preventing
it from occurring. Unfortunately, the national statistic “1 in 5 women and 1 in 16
men are sexually assaulted while in college (Christopher P. Krebs, 2007) ” has
not changed much in the last 20 years. Here at Duke, based on the most recent
Student Experience Survey, “40% of undergraduate women reported they were
sexually assaulted since enrolling” (Duke University, 2017). Also, based on this
survey, “Black/African American and Hispanic female students reported higher
percentages than other race/ethnic groups among undergraduates” (Duke University,
2017). Women of color are often forgotten about in the discussions of gender
violence prevention. Prevention has advanced tremendously; and while students
understand sexual assault and consent and are aware that it happens, we still
have practically the same amount of assaults happening on college campuses
around the world.
There is a need for the voices of women of color on campus to have a place
at the table when discussing the issues of sexual violence, intimate partner violence,
sexual harassment, and stalking. The prevention work that the Women’s
Center does is steeped in intersectionality and Womanism; however nothing
speaks volumes like the voices of the female students of color. Not only do we
need the voices of the female students of color, but we also need for our male
students of color to be a part of this movement as well. Discussions about gender
violence are a great place to start, but we also need action on campus. This
means taking a look at ourselves, and holding ourselves accountable for changing
the culture on campus. Shifting the culture on campus for students of color
comes in many forms. Here are a few to start with:
1. Being an active bystander.
2. Attending a sexual misconduct taskforce meeting, so that students of
color are represented.
3. Creating a taskforce within your organization.
4. Collaborating with the Women’s Center.
5. Calling out inappropriate behavior of peers.
6. Using your voice!
Christopher P. Krebs, C. H. (2007). The Campus Sexual (CSA) Study: Final Report. National Institute of Justice.
Emilie Buchwald, P. R. (1993). Transforming A Rape Culture. Minneapolis, MN, US: Milkweed Editions.
University, D. (2017, February 20). Duke Student Affairs. Retrieved February 18, 2018, from Sexual Misconduct Prevention & Response: