As spring has faded into summer, both the lessons from the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC) and the music from Full Service, have stayed ringing in Dave's head since our June 1 event.
The meaning of what we were about to hear from our BARCC representatives, Megan and Stephanie. Noticing that the majority of those present were men, Chad made it a point to explain how important, how positive, it was to have so many men present for a discussion about sexual violence. He talked about how issues that affect more women than men are not simply "women's issues," and how exposure to people's stories and BARCC's work can push us to seek changes to the systems that propagate our society's need for their work.
Issues that affect more women than men are not simply "women's issues," and exposure to people's stories and BARCC's work can push us to seek changes to the systems that propagate our society's need for their work.
Talking about rape and sexual violence is never easy, but knowing about these hidden yet commonplace scars that exist throughout our communities is the first step in helping to remedy them. It might sound odd, but after Chad spoke, it truly felt as if there was a new openness and receptiveness in the room—it once again became that familiar place where people were ready to learn and engage.
Megan and Stephanie talked about some of the staggering statistics of rape: how 1 in 6 men, 1 in 4 women, and 1 and 2 transgender people will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime. These numbers quickly broke down that everyone, whether they know it or not, knows someone who has experienced sexual violence. This is why BARCC exists. It is not just a resource for survivors (the word they use in lieu of "victims"), but also for their loved ones and friends who wish to help. Their website offers resources, like role-playing instructions to use when memories of a past rape or attempted rape come up, and how to support and help as best as one can when learning of the painful experiences of another.
They explained how their work aims to provoke societal intervention, like educating children and teenagers about the ways people treat one another, and encouraging people to explore ways we can improve our relationships with those in the world around us while breaking down harmful gender stereotypes (Stephanie remarked how she wasn't there to play drums, as she had been told as a child that it wasn't something girls did, despite her deep wish to rock out). It was clear that their work wasn't only to help survivors, but also to show the community ways to grow that might ultimately prevent any sexual violence from occurring. The value of BARCC's work is immeasurable, and their ability to teach and explain just how insidious the culture of sexism, stereotyping, and by-standing is brought me to a vastly more inclusive understanding of my responsibility in preventing sexual violence.
Our friends at BARCC then cleared out so the band could to take over. Having not heard of Full Service before that night, and entering to find that their merch included some neon sunglasses and branded kazoos, and their high-hat was a rusted and folded license plate, I didn't really know what to expect. Well I can safely say now that if you haven't heard Full Service's music before, and better yet, if you haven't seen them live, stop what you're doing immediately and go fix that.
Simply put, they rocked. Their harmonies were gorgeous, their rhythm was tight and yet still breathed easily, and their songs were playful, fun, and imaginative. They were there to have fun, and boy, did they do it. It was reportedly the most complete setup that has played a MLS at Chad's, featuring a full kit (of sorts... we're counting the bongo/license-plate setup here because it just sounded awesome), an electric bass, guitar, and melodophone/auxiliary percussion. True to their name, it was a Full Service experience, and it will stay in my mind as one of my absolute favorite Music and Lectures to date.