Brilliant Comic Highlights the Complexity of Speaking Out About Sexual Assault

by Melanie Mignucci

Trigger Warning: This post mentions sexual violence, reactions to sexual violence, and victim blaming.

Speaking of sexism and comics, this simple 3 panel webcomic tweeted today by @GirlhoodStudies is alllll kinds of genius. It juxtaposes the kinds of reactions people have to hearing about sexual harrassment and, in doing so, shows the viewer how friggin’ hard to is to talk about sexual violence in a meaningful way – as if we didn’t know that already.

The comic starts by showing a stick figure – ungendered by design – talking about its sexual assault, naming names, the whole shebang. In response, an unseen chorus accuses the speaker of starting a “witch mob” and fueling “ridiculous gossip.”

So the stick figure tries again. Without naming names, it brings up its assault, only this time to be ridiculed for not taking the assault seriously and “just want[ing] attention.” One anonymous response is, “If you don’t name names, you’re responsible if he does it again!” 

Cue exaggerated eye roll.

Cowed, the victim-composite stays silent in the third panel, prompting the core question: “If [sexual harassment] is so widespread, why don’t more women speak out?”

Because duh, buddy!

The drawings brilliantly contextualize the complex issue of why women don’t speak up when they’re sexually assaulted – they’re damned if they do, damned if they don’t. To speak up about sexual violence is to provoke an “online lynch mob.” To stay silent is to delegitimize the issue.

See the full comic below.

Comic by Jim C. Hines

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