As part of AF3IRM’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence, we are releasing video and text of a version of the speech delivered at the #MeToo Survivors’ March in Hollywood on Sunday, November 12, 2017 by AF3IRM National Chair Ivy Quicho.
Greetings! How are you all doing? My name is Ivy Quicho and I am the National Chairperson of AF3IRM! AF3IRM is an all-volunteer, transnational feminist, anti-imperialist organization of women of color – and of survivors!
I was a victim of child sexual abuse starting at the age of 2, a victim of rape at the age of 15 by someone I knew (not necessarily a rich, powerful, public predator), and a victim of intimate partner physical violence as an adult, not to mention the many other forms of structural violence that come with being a woman of color, specifically an Asian Pacific Islander, daughter of Filipino immigrant parents, and growing up in poor/working class neighborhoods, in a country that has intentionally stacked the odds against me.
As a survivor there have been many times that I wanted to give up— from the exhausting daily demeaning thoughts that prevent you from doing simple tasks like getting out of bed, to the terrifying panic attacks from flash blacks, to the nightly jaw clenching and hip tightness because our body parts physically hold sadness not just from today but also generations past. But sisters, I am here today to tell you that because of my 13 years through organizing in AF3IRM, AF3IRM has provided me the one thing that pushed me to keep going, the one thing that gets me up everyday when I have suicidal thoughts, the one thing that keeps me on track—and that is hope.
We in AF3IRM are here to tell all the women of color—black, brown, yellow, indigenous, trans women—each and every woman of color like me—that we see you. This is our commitment to you: we will do what our ancestors had done and taught us for centuries— we will get back up every time with even more seething rage, we will resist every twisted tactic they may throw at us, and we will fight with every last drop of strength we have left until genuine liberation is ours!
The #MeToo movement exposes on a mainstream level, what has been happening to women, particularly women of color for centuries. 4,500 years ago, patriarchy was created when we women became the first form of property. Rape culture didn’t just come of out nowhere – it was born out of what we in AF3IRM call the perceived patriarchal entitlement to women’s bodies. For centuries, access to women of color bodies in particular has been expected and this belief has been given life through colonization when our bodies and land were ravished, through capitalism when our bodies became commodified for prostitution, through imperialism and war and military when we were sold on a large scale for what has become the global sex trade, from the online mail order bride system, to institutionalized red light districts, to the attempts at legalizing prostitution. Sisters, while this has been happening to us for all this time, what Trump, what those sexists, what those misogynists, what those fascists who uphold patriarchy seem to forget is that we are still here and we are not going anywhere!
When someone asked me what I thought about the public finally listening—and not just listening but with compassion and believing our stories—they asked me what my response was. And to be honest, my response was — IT’S ABOUT GAWDAMN TIME.
NOW IS THE TIME that society stops normalizing harassment, assault and rape as private, everyday occurrences that “used to be acceptable.” This shit was never acceptable. And that when we talk about sexual assault and rape, we have to talk about how it is used as a way to dehumanize in order to amass power and control. This is not about sex addiction – this about amassing power and control over women and the communities we oversee.
NOW IS THE TIME that we see how these recent acts of terror are all connected. It is no coincidence that from Charlottesville to Las Vegas to Texas, the common denominator is and has been domestic violence. We are living in an era of fascism that relies on the subjugation of women. To end violence in our communities, we must end violence against women.
NOW IS THE TIME that when we talk about sexual harassment of rich, famous actresses in Hollywood, we are also talking about the stories of marginalized voices including Native American girls who’ve experienced sexual assault at more than double that of any other population. We must talk about the sexual assault and murder of our homeless trans sisters – not just by the everyday person but by killer cops who were hired to protect us, when in fact they inflict the violence upon our people, particularly our black community.
NOW IS THE TIME that we not only talk about assault of white collar professionals, but that we center the experience of undocumented women – of Filipina domestic workers who are raped by their captive employers, of immigrant women from Mexico who are sexually assaulted several times en route as they cross the border. That we talk about the experience of our middle eastern sisters also known as South West Asia, North Africa sisters, who face Islamophobia on top of sexual assault. It’s time that we talk about the trafficked/prostituted Asian women in massage parlors who are sexually exploited and must be decriminalized, while stopping the legalization of a system predicated on the sale of rape.
NOW IS THE TIME that we talk about accountability – what that is and what it should look like, while simultaneously demanding the accountability of individuals who perpetuate hate and violence by demanding actions such as resignations and apologies. We must also demand that these systems that breed violence and patriarchy also be dismantled – including ICE, including prisons, including Trump who is in office.
Sisters, today I challenge you to practice a feminism that is revolutionary. Let us go beyond building a sisterhood of suffering to a sisterhood rooted in societal transformation. Let us continue to share our stories, to demand justice and accountability, but let us also actively work on dismantling the structures and the culture of rape that breeds and upholds such violence in the first place so that future generations will not only not know rape, will not only not know sexual assault, but future universes shall never know the concept of violence against our people.
And most importantly, let us be bold in our dreaming of liberation and reimagine what justice could look like, taste like, feel like— Perhaps it isn’t just demanding individual accountability in Hollywood, but it is also ensuring marginalized women of color hold positions of power in every level of the film and TV industry. Perhaps it isn’t just demanding resignation of those who assault in academia, but it is demanding that the type of material taught in schools & universities include exercises to unlearn patriarchy. Perhaps it isn’t just electing more marginalized women/peoples into office, it is changing how those offices function, giving more power to the people.
Sisters, we women are targets for one reason, and one reason alone…. BECAUSE THEY FEAR OUR COLLECTIVE POWER AND GROWING MOVEMENT. Sisters, we are still here, and we are not going anywhere! And what we in AF3IRM say – a woman’s place is not in the home, it’s not in the kitchen, it is not in the bedroom, a woman’s place is here in the streets at at the HELM of the struggle for all humanity!
WHEN WOMEN AND CHILDREN ARE UNDER ATTACK WHAT DO WE DO? STAND UP, FIGHT BACK! WHAT DO WE DO?! STAND UP, FIGHT BACK!