Home > Policy > Queer Ontario’s Position Statement on Sexual Violations

Queer Ontario’s Position Statement on Sexual Violations

January 21st, 2013

As of January 13, 2013
Queer Ontario’s values include the recognition and affirmation of gender and sexual diversity. We support everyone’s freedom to have feelings, including love for, desire for and fantasy about anyone or anything.  We support sexual activity where everyone involved gives informed consent.  We hope for a sex-positive society in which anyone can enjoy sexual pleasures and thrills, including masturbation, pornography, casual sex, kink, and other partner-sex, without worry or endangerment.
The intolerable reality is that not all sexual activity is consensual.  Queer Ontario unequivocally opposes sexual violations (by which we mean sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape, sexual abuse, sexual coercion and sexual exploitation). We are concerned about some of society’s current approaches to these problems.
We use the following terms in this statement:

  • “Survivor” for someone who has actually suffered a sexual violation (also known as a victim); and
  • “Violator” for someone who commits a sexual violation (also known as a perpetrator, harasser, rapist, abuser, etc.)

Who is subject to sexual violations?
Our society is overwhelmingly concerned about sexual violations of women, children and adolescents. Queer Ontario shares that concern, and points out that sexual violations are also likely to affect people who don’t conform to gender or sexual norms, including trans people and sex workers.
Sexual violations can happen to anyone: men and women, young and elderly, strangers and family members, rich and poor, sexually-reserved and sexually-liberated, privileged and oppressed. Membership in a particular identity group is just one factor in the power structures that make some people more vulnerable to sexual violations than others.  Physical, social and economic disadvantages (due to age, disability, immigration status, language barriers, etc.) also increase vulnerability.
Consequences of sexual violations

Sexual violations cause a wide variety of harms. The survivor may suffer short-term and long- lasting physical, psychological, social and financial effects.  These may have further consequences for the survivor’s family, community and society. Thus, society must place great emphasis on the elimination of sexual violations.
Many people restrict their activities to avoid sexual violations.  They miss out on opportunities for employment, education or fun, for fear of walking down the street alone at night or of talking to a stranger at the bar.  The risk of being violated keeps certain groups of people from contributing their best to society and from enjoying life (including the pleasures of sexuality).  Our culture needs to be liberated of these repressive fears.
educing the likelihood of sexual violations
Fundamental social change is needed to eliminate or reduce sexual violations.  To get there requires ongoing discussion and action by individuals and groups throughout society. Below are some responses that individuals can make, and some collective approaches.
We encourage individuals to behave consensually, by:

  • Becoming more conscious of their own sexual desires and actions;
  • Learning the many ways that people communicate sexual interest and disinterest;
  • Ensuring that they have the fully-informed, enthusiastic consent of sexual partners;
  • Negotiating their desires, expectations and boundaries in sexual relationships;
  • Becoming more conscious of their own powers and disadvantages in society, and how power imbalances can distort a person’s willingness to be sexually involved with them; and
  • Asking for support to cope with sexual frustration or social disempowerment.

We encourage society to reduce the risk of sexual violations, by:

  • Speaking openly and honestly about sexuality, in the media and other forums;
  • Recognizing the complexities of sexuality and consent when setting rules;
  • Teaching children, youth and adults to behave consensually;
  • Providing supportive spaces for people to learn about their sexuality, and uncover sources of sexual shame;
  • Teaching people to be clear and honest about their expectations from a sexual encounter;
  • Providing supports for people who have difficulty finding sexual satisfaction with a consenting partner; and
  • Reducing the power imbalances between genders, generations, and other groups within society.

Queer Ontario calls on society to find more effective ways to reduce the likelihood of sexual violations, without constraining the freedom of individuals thought to be vulnerable. For example, teach people not to rape, rather than teaching people to avoid certain clothes or neighbourhoods (as if rape were inevitable).
Society’s responses to sexual violations
Queer Ontario calls for:

  • Responses that are based on statistics and evidence, not traditions and fears;
  • Sexual assault crisis services and domestic violence shelters available to people of all genders and orientations;
  • Diversity-sensitive counselling available to survivors of sexual violations; and
  • Education and counselling for violators, to prevent future violations.

Queer Ontario calls for:

  • Reform to our antiquated laws about sexuality;
  • Police and judges who are better-educated about sexuality and gender diversity;
  • Policing that treats sex-related complaints seriously, and does not discriminate against nor blame the survivor;
  • Ways to report a sexual violation that do not further harm the survivor.

Queer Ontario is not content with our current justice system. Laws, police protection and corrections should be based on harm reduction rather than oppression.  We need community-based alternatives to the slow and adversarial courts. The problems with our laws, policing and courts affect everyone involved in a sexual violation.
Further Exploration
Queer Ontario encourages research and discussion about sexuality and the related ethical issues.  Our online publication, the Think Tank, will consider submissions about these topics.   In particular, we will explore:

  • How do we know if an action is a sexual violation?  People’s personal boundaries vary among (sub)cultures. For instance, various queer communities have different expectations about asking for consent, compared to the mainstream heterosexual culture.
  • Given the history of criminalizing queer sexuality, we are thinking about the harms caused (by unfair laws, policing, courts and societal reaction) to accused and actual violators.  This is in addition to our great concern with the harm caused to survivors.
  • How do people learn about themselves as sexual and gendered beings?  How is that learning affected by our communities, cultures, institutions and their power structures?  How can we intervene in that learning process, to create a safer and more sex-positive society?
  • How can we ensure all individuals, especially marginalized people, have a supportive space to talk about the crucial issues that affect their lives, bodies and sexualities?
  • To move forward on the issues of sexual violence, what new or difficult conversations need to happen in our culture?



Comments are closed.