Author Archives: Rebecca Krevat

Live from the Lilith Blog

October 17, 2017 by

Stop Victim Blaming: A Response to Mayim Bialik from One Member of the Orthodox Community to Another

Photo credit: Jason Merritt

Photo credit: Jason Merritt

On October 13th, the actress Mayim Bialik wrote an op-ed titled, “Being a Feminist in Harvey Weinstein’s World” about the ways in which she feels that her non-traditional Hollywood appearance, and her “modest” behavior has kept her safe from advances by men like Harvey Weinstein. She wrote, “I still make choices every day as a 41-year-old actress that I think of as self-protecting and wise. I have decided that my sexual self is best reserved for private situations with those I am most intimate with. I dress modestly. I don’t act flirtatiously with men as a policy.” It’s baffling that someone like Bialik would take a stance like this as a feminist, to put the burden of preventing an assault on the person being assaulted, and not the assaulter. Let’s be clear: this op-ed is the definition of victim blaming. In Bialik’s world, it’s not Harvey Weinstein’s fault for pressing forward as the women said no, but the women themselves for being too conventionally beautiful, wearing too much make-up, or pair of tight jeans. Weinstein’s victims were “asking for it.”

I am also surprised to hear this take from Bialik for another reason—because she is an Orthodox Jew. As such, Bialik should know that sexual assault happens in our community, where many individuals take great care to act and dress according to her definitions of “modesty.” I once had a camp counselor who hesitated to buy a pair of burgundy shoes because they could be misconstrued as immodest. According to Bialik’s philosophy, this careful attention to modesty should equate to a zero percent rate of sexual harassment and violence in the Orthodox community. Sadly, we all know that this isn’t the case.

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Live from the Lilith Blog

September 12, 2017 by

Defying DeVos

Photo source: Wikipedia

Last Thursday, Betsy DeVos stated that she would rewrite the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter (DCL), a powerful document directed to K-12 and university administrations that clarified schools’ obligations under Title IX (a federal civil rights law) to combat sexual violence and to support survivors. In announcing her decision, DeVos claimed that the original Dear Colleague Letter – and federal enforcement of Title IX – did everyone a disservice.

DeVos’s justifications for dismantling Title IX protections couldn’t be further from the truth.

Before the Obama Administration took sexual violence seriously and enforced Title IX, schools were able to get away with mistreating student survivors. The stories of institutional abuses are horrific. One university told a student that she should work at Starbucks until her rapist graduated. Another student was told by an administrator that “rape is like a football game, if you look back on the game and you’re the quarterback, is there anything that you would have done differently?” Another university refused to take action while fraternity members marched around the freshman halls chanting, “No means yes, yes means anal.” Other survivors of sexual violence were forced to drop out when their school failed to address the violence, apparently because they did not know Title IX existed.

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Live from the Lilith Blog

April 21, 2017 by

How Rape Survivors Are Using Art

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. As a survivor and survivor advocate, I struggle during this time with the way media portrays us. While individual stories of survival and victimhood are critical, far too often some of us feel boxed in by what we call the “sad rape girl” narrative. This is what happens when journalists reduce survivors down to their narratives of victimhood, of loss of control, of lack of agency, and refuse to let us share how we’re fighting back, of how we’re experts in law or advocacy around sexual violence.

This is part of why I was so interested in attending the recent public conversation  “Consent/Dissent,” between by Emma Sulkowicz and Aliza Shvarts, two artists who challenged the status quo of survivor and victim narratives through performance art.

Emma Sulkowicz is best known for her “Mattress Performance” held at Columbia University. She carried her dorm mattress around with her each day her rapist still attended the University. During this time, Emma noticed that suddenly everyone was an expert about her rape—that everyone had all these ideas about what rape survivors would and would not do. Emma was provoked by these commentaries to do something that a “real” rape survivor would never, ever do – in “Ceci N’Est Pas Un Viol” (2015; “This Is Not a Rape”) she recreated her rape experience on camera as a performance piece.

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