Someone helps you with your homework or offers to give you a ride home. You accept. You thank them. You’re texting back and forth, maybe flirting, maybe sending photos of yourself, and you get the sense that they want more. Even though you only wanted the homework help, or the ride, or the sexting, the person feels entitled to your body. And you’re not sure whether they might be right.
These scenarios are not uncommon among youth and young adults. But the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre, in Halifax, wants you to know: “No one is entitled to your body—you don’t owe anyone.”
In collaboration with Haligonian filmmaker Krista Davis, the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre launched the “I Don’t Owe You” campaign this year by creating 4 stop-motion animation videos and 6 posters showing scenarios that youth identified were common precursors to sexual exploitation and victimization. The posters and videos remind young adults that:
Just because we made out…
Just because we texted…
Just because we’re lovers…
Just because you helped me…
“Doesn’t mean I owe you.”
Now, the campaign is reaching a wider audience thanks to the Michele Landsberg Community Award, a $5,000 grant presented annually by the Canadian Women’s Foundation to an organization raising awareness about women’s and girls’ equality. With the funds, Avalon will launch a Feminist Speaking Tour travelling to high schools in Nova Scotia to talk to teens about consent, bodily autonomy, and misogyny.
Named after renowned Canadian journalist Michele Landsberg, the award supports non-profit organizations that give girls and young women a voice through media. “I Don’t Owe You” does this by challenging male entitlement and underscoring the importance of sexual consent, which two-thirds of Canadians don’t recognize must be both positive and ongoing.
In its day-to-day operations, the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre offers free counselling and legal support to young women who have been sexually assaulted and raped. The Centre also develops violence prevention resources aimed at educating young people and future generations.
It’s not the first time the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre has channelled arts and media to spread awareness about sexualized violence. They have previously received funding from the Canadian Women’s Foundation for the “Stop It ASAP” project, done in partnership with the YWCA, and the Sexual Assault Youth Outreach Education Project. Avalon engaged diverse groups of girls, trans* youth, and boys to create art pieces used to educate peers, then further developed the concepts into educational resources.
Congratulations to everyone at the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre for winning this year’s Michele Landsberg Community Award, and thank you for your dedication to this important cause!
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