“Saying NO! Is Not a Betrayal,” an interview with Aishah Shahidah Simmons

January 25, 2013

Peace X Peace highlights Aishah Shahidah Simmons’ work in their January 24, 2013 edition of “Voices from the Frontlines” blog

On Friday, January 24, 2013, Peace X Peace, an international non-profit organization that raises women’s voices and builds cultures of peace in over 120 countries worldwide, highlighted Aishah Shahidah Simmons’ anti-rape activism in their weekly edition of “Voices from the Frontlines,” in a piece entitled, “Saying NO! Is Not a Betrayal.”

In the midst of hectic scheduling all around, Peace X Peace staff person Nawal Rajeh and Aishah made time to talk about about a myriad of topics including the origins of NO!, the responses to NO! once it was completed, advice for (heterosexual) men who want to work toward ending rape, and Aishah’s hope for the future of the anti-sexual violence movement.

Here’s an excerpt,

The idea started in the early 90’s Mike Tyson was accused and charged of raping an African American woman. At that point, many African American leaders were enraged that she came forward and accused him. I myself am a survivor, but when I started the process of this film, I didn’t think it had anything to do with me. I wanted to help black women break the silence that exists, as it does in so many communities. We don’t want to make our community look bad. What that means is we don’t want to make men look bad? There’s a lot of pressure put on women that come forward because they are viewed as being traitors of black men. I’m looking at the making of NO! with a lot of hindsight. Making NO! saved my life. I can’t imagine my life without having made it. I’m not in it, but I am throughout it- through the stories of the other women. It most definitely saved me- it took me through hell and back. The level of my being out about as sexual assault survivor in terms of where I was then and where I am now makes me feel like I have the responsibility to be out about the complexities of sexual assault. One of the main requirements for every survivor featured in NO! was that they would have to be willing to have their face shown and full name displayed on camera. The reason behind this was that I wanted to convey the message that there should be no shame in having been raped. My goal was to inspire and ignite other survivors to come forward. My firm belief is that the shame should be on the perpetrators.

You may read the interview in its entirety by clicking HERE (http://bit.ly/W6z4wV)

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