December 9, 2017- Not even the driving snow and freezing temps could deter dozens of sexual assault survivors from rallying in solidarity in NYC. Staging the event directly across the street from the Trump International Hotel, added a distinct backdrop of irony and inspired signs calling out Trump as “Rapist-in-Chief,” and more. Despite the cold, I was honored and proud to be among the speakers to voice support for the cause.
Sonia Ossorio, the NY State President of NOW, delivered a heartfelt plea that #MeToo will soon become #NotMeToo. Shani Harris, Elizabeth McLaughlin and other sexual assault survivors soulfully moved the crowd with their personal stories.
Organizers, Connie Vasquez and Annmarie Haubert, planned the event as a means to bring sexual assault survivors together in a shared moment of solidarity and support. Because victims are often invalidated and harshly judged, being able to relate their stories to others who shared similar nightmares, can provide tremendous relief and a welcome feeling of acceptance. With hands so cold they could no longer turn pages, they passed the microphone from one speaker to the next.
Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright contributed her message of hope:
METOO is WETOO; the movement has touched each and every one of us and has transformed society. We will NEVER go back but continue to move ahead for progress and equality in all spheres of life.
My explanation about the need for new penal code language got rousing support from the crowd. But we need to spread this message to the world:
While #MeToo exposed the problem, society desperately needs to enact the solution!
We can only hold people accountable for violating a victim’s consent, if our laws make the definition of consent crystal clear!
Instead our laws are a mish-mosh of absurdly differing language and expectations. And those laws often convey what consent is not, rather than what it is: freely given, knowledgeable and informed agreement, #FGKIA.
Combining an accurate consent doctrine together with the simple but important language endorsed by President Obama and Vice President Biden in the ItsOnUs Pledge, Non-consensual sex is sexual assault, will put teeth into the laws that protect society, and change rape mentality, now, and for generations to come.
Don’t wait. Don’t leave it up to the next person. Pick up the phone to your legislators. Tell them to adopt the consent doctrine and the definition of sexual assault from the ItsOnUs Pledge today!
Consent is freely given, knowledgeable and informed agreement!
Non-consensual sex is sexual assault!
Here’s the speech I delivered for the awesome December 9th gathering:
“What a beautiful sea of brave faces! Brave because you dared to publish your #MeToo stories that brought sexual assault out of the shadows and into the daylight. And brave for openly standing together in solidarity, in this driving snow, to add power to all the #MeToo voices that came forward.
But we’re not through being brave! And I’m going to ask you for one more act of bravery……
While the #MeToo effort shines a light on this wide spread problem, it doesn’t fix it. Only enacting new laws to fight sexual assault will do that!
Generations ago, our nation fought a bloody war that embattled brother against brother. But the Civil War is not what actually stopped slavery. Enacting new laws that made slavery a crime so overwhelmingly changed the public’s conscience, that today we wonder how slavery could ever have existed in a moral society. And that’s what we need to do with sexual assault!
I’ve researched the laws from state to state. And what I’ve found is a mish mosh of inconsistency. Even the concept of “consent” is either not defined or poorly defined in penal codes around our nation. How can we possibly expect to lock up people like Harvey Weinstein, Roy Moore, Bill Cosby and Donald Trump when, in most states, consent is defined by what it’s not instead of what it is!
Sexual predators want us to believe that every form of agreement carries the same weight. But nothing could be further from the truth! Consent is NOT the only form of agreement. But it’s the form of agreement that’s required in ALL sexual contact!
There’s acquiescence, like when you’re 5 foot 2 and 110 pounds soaking wet, and you’re assaulted by someone 6 foot tall, 225 pounds, and you freeze like a butterball turkey because you’re afraid to anger them and make the problem worse than it already is. I know, because that’s exactly what happened to me!
There’s assent, like when you’re the sole support of 2 kids and your boss corners you by the water cooler, gropes your breasts, and you say nothing because losing your job is simply not your option!
But neither of these forms of “agreement” rise to the level of “consent, which is “freely given, knowledgeable and informed agreement,” FGKIA!
President Obama (and yes, he’s still my President) and Vice President Biden endorsed the ItsOnUs Pledge with very special language that together with FGK&IA, can turn the tables on rape mentality. They said, “Non-consensual sex is sexual assault.” But you won’t see those words stated anywhere in penal code, anywhere in our nation. We need to change that! We have to establish what sexual assault is, and we have to establish what consent is to bring rape mentality to an end!
So what’s the brave thing I’m going to ask you to do today?
Call your legislators! Make sure they know you want “Non-consensual sex is a sexual assault” and “Consent is freely given, knowledgeable and informed agreement,” signed into the laws in your state, right away! Light up their switchboards! Illuminate the path to stop rape mentality today!
So let me hear you! FGK&IA, sign it into law today!
FGK&IA, sign it into law today!”