Tuesday, September 6, 2011


 My understanding of ‘First Thursday’ in Jamaica Plain, MA (where I live) has been that shops offer reduced prices, artists show their work, workshops are offered, restaurants offer specials, and foot traffic is welcomed. It has seemed, to me, a most efficient and pleasurable way for the community to find community. Quite frankly, I’ve kicked myself each month when I’ve realized that for some random work issue, parenting squabble or a simple forgetting, I’ve missed it again. This past ‘First Thursday’ I happened to be driving through JP center between 6 and 8 PM. It was lovely to see so many people milling about and so many conversations in motion. I have to say I got really excited. It seemed to me that local people were eager to share what they were doing with other local people who had an interest in knowing.

I actually thought: ‘This is right up my alley.’ As an artist, a filmmaker, a writer, a single mother, and a therapist specializing in working with trauma survivors and their significant, connected people, I often feel isolated from the larger community.

Recently I have been working in partnership with my son. We’ve been deeply engaged in educating, public speaking and Internet outreach in our attempts to support a growing public awareness and conversation about sexual assault and rape.

To augment this work we have created: 


and our ‘Join the Conversation’ FaceBook page: 


We are hard at work on the documentary ‘Living After Rape’. When I gave the Keynote Address and ‘Join the Conversation’ was featured at the recent (amazing) event: Slutwalk DC, we were honored and delighted to also film many hours of interviews for the documentary.

It has been wonderful to receive the numerous letters and invitations - that originate all over the world - from people who support our work and the Documentary. As I’ve slowly worked my way through my personal responses to each person’s inquiry and story, I’ve also bemoaned the fact that I simply have not had the time to properly introduce the Documentary project to our local community here.   

“Ah, ha!” I thought.  ‘First Thursday’ seemed the perfect vehicle to create an opportunity to talk with people. We have most everything we need, and it’s all accessible due to our recent Washington DC foray.  We’re set with plenty of wonderful cards that speak to the campaign. I purchased a bend-in-half-table-with-a-handle in anticipation, and then began the delicate folding required for the ‘Rape Hurts, Join the Conversation’ Tee-Shirts we sell to promote the viewership.

It simply never occurred to me that we - and/or our work - as artists and educators would be deemed inappropriate. Honestly, the thought never crossed my mind. My assumption has always been that most people would be delighted to know about our work, and if they were not, there would certainly be other vendors and businesses for them to visit with instead.

I have to say that the reception with which my inquiry was received was less than cordial, certainly not welcoming and actually downright rude. I was told that we (Join the Conversation) are “… Absolutely not appropriate [for First Thursday].”

After googling ‘First Thursday’ in Jamaica Plain, I thought I’d offer some direct media quotes about the event, in the hope that this information may be helpful to other unsuspecting people wanting to join in the fun.

“… Local merchants showcased their art and explained their craft and story to intrigued shoppers. Among the exhibitors were members of Boston Handmade, whose founder we recently profiled on Patch. Several stores adorned their front doors with balloons and signs to indicate their participation and incite customers to look around.
Live music, food tasting, and hands-on activities were all part of the summer event's treat. The next First Thursday of the season is scheduled for Sept. 1st, from 6 to 8 p.m….” (excerpted from Jamaica Plain Patch (online))

I realize that talking, thinking about and living the ramifications of global rape culture is uncomfortable. It’s often tempting for people to think that they don’t want, or need, to entertain the subject. I truly wish this were the case. However, current statistics state that 1 out of 3 women will experience sexual assault in their lifetime.. One out of three! For males, the numbers stand at 1 out of 10 of these. It is also stated that the perpetrators are 99% male. What this means is that the likelihood of our youth, passing through their lives, without either encountering a situation first-hand or knowing someone who has, is almost nil.

If the subject of rape remains so taboo that it is virtually a social suicide to bring it up, what are we to do? Particularly since recovery from sexual trauma requires an environment where survivors are supported in speaking the reality of what has happened to them.

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