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Today's episode is on sexual violence and organizing against it, so a major content warning for those listening. We spoke with Jes Skolnik, who has many years of experience organizing around sexual assault. Jes is currently the managing editor of Bandcamp Daily, a contributor to Pitchfork and many other publications, and a boardmember of Pure Joy Chicago, an arts venue and community space for all ages. They have long been involved in pragmatic activism that seeks to rectify social systemic imbalances in material ways for those who need it most, both within the labor movement and outside, as an anarcha-feminist abolitionist. We were also joined by returning guest Alex Press, former labor organizer and current assistant editor at Jacobin and PhD student in sociology at Northeastern University, who's been writing extensively on the Harvey Weinstein allegations and its lessons for responding to sexual abuse.
Jes tells us about their experience organizing against sexual violence and providing material support to victims, including through shelters and rape crisis hotlines, and how being a survivor of abuse impacted their approach to the work. We discuss the seemingly endless stream of new allegations against powerful men in Hollywood and beyond, and our guests give their thoughts on the current moment and whether the current media focus on sexual violence will translate into actual cultural or policy change. We talk about why victims of sexual violence often stay silent, and why victims, predominantly women, have to rely on informal whisper networks to stay safe from abusers. We discuss Alex's piece for Vox on how to formalize and weaponize the whisper network to thwart abuse, as well as her piece for Jacobin on the role that the labor movement could and should play in combatting sexual harassment and assault. Finally, referencing recent examples, we discuss the need for people in left organizations to face abusers in their midst head-on, and to stop making excuses for the bad behavior of their friends. Victims of sexual violence are tired of shouldering the burden of changing our society alone, it is time for everyone to step up.
You can follow Jes on Twitter at @modernistwitch. Follow Alex at @alexnpress.
A transcript for this episode is forthcoming. Please send an email to deleteuracct @ gmail to get a copy sent to you when it is completed.