Co-written by Keila Macpherson
Just recently, “Drawing the Line” returned for its second moment. The atmosphere was entertaining and the air thick with cause – a cause to make Peterborough a safer place.
The event created a safe space to discuss ‘loudly’ the normalization of rape culture within the community – a conversation that is usually only a whisper at crisis centres or police stations.
“The night was a success with over 50 attendees and raised a fund of about $500 towards Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre (KSAC),” said Kristal Jones, the brainchild of the event.
The show this year fulfilled another great cause, which was “to make Peterborough the first UN-mandated safe city in Ontario,” Jones added. The guests signed a petition to emphasize the community’s desire to have Mayor Bennett take the necessary steps and be a part of the Global Safe Cities Initiative.
‘Drawing the Line’ takes its name from ‘Draw the Line Campaign’, a provincial initiative with the purpose of engaging Ontarians in a dialogue about sexual violence prevention, explains Jones.
The main objective of the event was to “raise awareness of the normalization of sexual and gender-based violence in our community openly in an public environment that encourages artists and patrons to be involved in meaningful ways,” Jones said. “Besides, these conversations should be had at public events where instances of sexual violence can, and do occur.”
In addition, it also created awareness about local campaigns and resources that support the initiative, namely HOLLABACK – a movement to end street harassment, KSAC, and COURAGE PTBO, an organization committed to addressing hate crime and street harassment in the City.
Since it started, the event has helped raise funds that have been donated directly to public education initiatives in the community, which help to de-construct the nature of rape culture, shared Jones. “Personally, I have noticed this conversation continuing in some unlikely circles, and that the climate of call-out culture is changing slowly and favourably for the better.” But it is not to say that the work is finished here, Jones stressed that “it certainly isn’t over and really it never should be.”
Talking to Arthur, Jones shared how “Drawing the Line” came to life in the first place. She experienced sexual harassment (both on-line and in person) after calling out a fellow local comedian for making jokes about rape and insinuating that he would commit rape. The harassment included threats of rape, posts mocking her for being a survivor of rape, and members of this community barking in her face and referring to her as “rape girl”. When the justice system failed to provide any reasonable solutions after months of this type of harassment, she took her story to Facebook, and with an outpouring amount of support from hundreds of survivors and from the comedy community, “Drawing the Line” was born.
This event is important for Jones as she explained: “My abuser felt very safe within this community. He felt safe saying he would rape unconscious women, that he was dreaming of raping me. He felt safe encouraging others to join in his sexual harassment. I felt unsafe seeking support. I felt unsafe when I learned there was no legal way to make myself safer and free from this type of sexual harassment. That is backwards, that is not okay. That needed attention. I am fortunate enough to have a supportive network of people who help me cope with my PTSD. Had someone else been the target, this situation may have ended with self harm or worse.” She stressed the prevalence of various forms of sexual harassment, and the dire need to (gradually) put an end to all of them.
The second part of “Drawing the Line” was a night that saw merriment and purpose; comedy, poetry, and musical entertainment interlaced with dialogue of a far heavier subject matter. It also included a raffle table full of prizes donated by local artists and musicians, and volunteer Keila MacPherson, a photographer who ran the photo booth and encouraged attendees to use a statement explaining where they would “Draw the Line”. There was also a petition for guests to sign so Mayor Bennett could take the necessary steps to make Peterborough Ontario’s first ever UN-mandated safe city for women and girls.
The event was hosted by Jocasta Boone and featured music by The Faux Cults, The Crimson Maples, Tom Middleton, and Emma Keat. The night owed its comedic performances to Ray Henderson, Andrew Root, Mike Moring, Adam Martignetti, Dan Smith, Mike Judson, Kristal Jones, Zara Syed, and Kat Kendrick. The fun didn’t stop there; it also hosted local poets such as Ezra Loyer, Yumna Sawnya, Genevieve Hinton, and Erin Mclaughlin.
The event “Draw The Line”, in support of KSAC and HOLLABACK Peterborough as sponsors by Kegi, was a night of entertainment with an even greater purpose: working towards prevention of all forms of sexual violence.