Acclaimed YouTube activist not without detractors

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Laci Green’s recent talk at Uvic on Sept. 30 has received mixed responses from students, with some of the student body seeing the activist’s talk as problematic. We could talk for days about rape culture, and many people left the theatre feeling frustrated that the conversation could not have continued.

With the recent sexual assault that occurred on campus Sept. 26, which followed Sexual Violence Awareness Week and the hype surrounding the Let’s Get Consenual campaign, it was certainly pertinent timing to host Green at UVic.

Some tension between the student body and Green was evident during the talk, when one audience member corrected Green’s usage of “lesbian women” by shouting “queer women.” However, many students were seen taking photos with Green and the talk ended with a standing ovation.

The issues some students have with Green stems from her past use of transphobic language and statements she has made about some religions, including Islam.

One student who attended the talk, Ocean Grant, said, “I like a lot of what [she] says but there are threads of problematic-ness.”  

Trans* activist and UVic student Daphne Shaed talked to the Martlet about the issues with hosting Green. Shaed said part of the problem is that the talk lacked any diversity, as Green was only one voice.

“[Laci Green] normalized a lot of things,” Shaed said “They talked about trans* people as the frame of trans people and they talked about queer people in the frame of queer people but they didn’t really call out the other things as being important. When talking about women we’re talking about cis women or all women.”

Green has frequently referred to gender and sex interchangeably online in her videos. For example, she mentioned via social media “post of tumblr about how my period is a part of my womanhood→ get 20 messages about how periods don’t mean womanhood”, this use of equating the female body to womanliness refutes the fact that not all women are biologically the same.

Shaed went on to say, “One of my main concerns of the event was there was no opportunity for questioning, no opportunity for a panel discussion. While we had all those people in the room it would have been nice to have a debrief afterwards [and] have a few people up there representing different communities and [have] a rep from each of our advocacy groups [on campus].”

She went on to explain how this would allow for the audience to see how rape cultures affect different groups, as it doesn’t affect every group in the same way.

As Shaed and her co-host Arcade Pallot stress on their radio show Breaking Binary, people sometimes give too much space and power to celebrities like Green. The two tell their viewers to look at Green through a critical lens, and to not just passively trust every word she says. “We need to be critical of people who give umbrella-type talks,” Shaed said

Furthermore, there are worries about the cost of hosting Laci Green and whether the resources could have been put to better use. “Those types of personalities don’t come cheap,” Shaed said. “The reality is we are a culture that is driven by celebrities and often gives one person a very powerful voice.”

Instead of listening to one voice, Shaed thinks it is better to look at those working on a grassroots level. She suggests going to your local advocacy groups and getting involved with them to hear different opinions and voices.

Shaed concluded by saying that “Laci Green is a good starting point, especially for those who don’t normally take part or talk about these things.”

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