Affinity and Awareness

As the Communications Manager at WIF, I often meet with my colleagues to find out if there are any topics we’d like to cover editorially. One frequent question we bump up against throughout the year is the best way to talk about affinity months. There can be great value in joining in with a chorus of voices while a topic is trending to shine a light on opportunities for distinct communities. But, it can feel performative and perfunctory when we—as individuals with overlapping identities, and as an organization—want to talk about issues affecting people from different backgrounds, with differing abilities, and more all year round!

When I was chatting with a colleague from the WIF Help Line, we struggled with the conundrum of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, April’s designation. Is the goal of this month indeed “awareness”: to remind people of the pervasiveness of this spectrum of crimes? Some groups add the word “prevention” to the SAAPM title, which implies that the purpose is to take action to interrupt the systems that keep assault overlooked and forgiven. Who is charged with raising awareness and taking action? Does the burden to educate, spread awareness, and advocate for prevention fall on the shoulders of those who have been harmed? Why isn’t it called “Survivors Month” or something that uplifts the people affected, instead of focusing on the harm and consequently, defining survivors by their trauma, instead of their resilience?

Ultimately, we’re raising these questions with the hope that actions to prevent sexual violence, as well as care for and celebration of survivors, can become the norm all year long. I want to take this opportunity to remind people about the WIF Help Line, where Advocates are available to speak to anyone working in entertainment who has experienced harassment or misconduct, and to amplify community resources like Peace Over Violence, RAINN, Right to Be‘s bystander intervention training, and Hire Survivors Hollywood. Remember that it is a likely truth that there are survivors in every room, and you never know what someone might be dealing with—respect and understanding should be the default in how we treat the people around us.

—Katherine Spada, WIF Communications Manager