End The Silence And Turn Up Your Speakers!

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | June 30, 2009 9:35 am

pistil1.pngOnce upon a time I was drumming in a pretty sweet band called Pistil with Megan Dawson on bass and Ann Starling and guitar. But they were practicing every week and booking shows around the Triangle, while I was sporadically in town between traveling and work commitments. We agreed that the very talented Ian Kleinfeld should take my place and now Pistil is better than ever…

Since this marks the final day that Silence Is The Enemy is raising funds for Doctors Without Borders, we’ll end the month with a bang–a song about two perspectives of rape called Mouse and Monster from the band. And remember, June was only the beginning. Momentum continues to build and our goal remains to draw attention to sexual abuse globally and encourage everyone to talk about it and act.

Megan explains why she wrote the song:

I’d been reading a lot of justifications for victim blaming, most specifically the term “Gray Rape” at the time.  I was so sick of hearing that there were legitimate reasons, under certain circumstances to coerce, force, or intimidate another person into sex.  There isn’t.  The line is always consent, and if its unclear, there isn’t consent.

In our society, we go around pretending like women bare the burden of sexual restraint, we refuse to place the blame on men to control themselves and allow them room to wiggle their way our of accountability.  Which means that blame falls on women.  I’m sick of feeling like if I dress a certain way, then some men get a free pass to behave a certain way.  I’m sick of feeling like if I drink too much, I am at fault for someone else’s behavior.  I’m sick of being a sexual gatekeeper.  I’m sick of our society not holding men accountable for their actions.  I’m sick of the lack of outrage regarding the made-up concept of “Gray Rape.” I’m sick of patronizing leaders assuming that the answer to rape culture is to corral women into behaving in a certain way.

The song is written from both  a victim and perpetrator’s perspective; from a man who is making all the stereotypical excuses and from a woman who is sick of taking blame.  Its both social commentary and narrative of a rape culture and the ambiguity surrounding it.

Mouse and Monster by Pistil

(lyrics after the jump)

I’m fluctuating now between mouse and monster
I’m fluctuating now between mouse and monster
And I probably shouldn’t have chased her
But self control is not my virtue as you say sir

I’m fluctuating now between mouse and monster
And she probably shouldn’t have dressed so sexy
And she probably should’ve said no more vocally
And she probably shouldn’t have had so much to drink

But it’s not me, it’s not me, it’s not me, it’s not me, it’s not me, I won’t take the blame
Yeah it’s not me, it’s not me, it’s not me, it’s not me, it’s not me, I won’t take the blame
Nooo I won’t take the blame I won’t take the blame
I won’t take the blame

Her role as gatekeeper is wearing thin
All her liberation is failing
Lest be the scapegoat she best not leave the safety nest

Because her daddy gotta protect her
Politician gotta protect her

Jesse Helms gotta protect her
Sarah Palin gotta protect her

Oh daddy save her from herself
Oh preacher save her from herself
Oh pharmacy save her from herself
Oh doctor save her from herself

I’m fluctuating now between mouse and monster

* Those in the Triangle area can catch Pistil this Thursday at The Pinhook in Durham *

And make sure to click these links all day–it’s your last chance to contribute to Doctors Without Borders by visiting:

The Intersection
On Becoming A Domestic And Laboratory Goddess
The Questionable Authority
Adventures in Ethics and Science
Blog Of The Moderate Left
Seattle Grassroots Examiner
the rugbyologist


Comments (3)

  1. Diane

    Thoughtful lyrics and great job with Silence Is The Enemy. We clicked everyday.

    Any idea how much blogs raised?

    Very cool to find scientist who plays the drums.

  2. Thanks Diane.

    We won’t know how much funding the campaign raised because we hope much support came independently from our contributions. However, the sum total of all blog donations around the internet should be in the four digit range.

    One more related post coming this afternoon…

  3. Callinectes

    I know it was a typo, but I kinda liked the following turn of phrase:

    women bare the burden of sexual restraint

    Thanks for sharing, Sheril, in more ways than one. I’ve been clicking away, too, and thanks to all the bloggers who are part of this effort.


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About Sheril Kirshenbaum

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a research scientist with the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin's Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy where she works on projects to enhance public understanding of energy issues as they relate to food, oceans, and culture. She is involved in conservation initiatives across levels of government, working to improve communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Sheril is the author of The Science of Kissing, which explores one of humanity's fondest pastimes. She also co-authored Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future with Chris Mooney, chosen by Library Journal as one of the Best Sci-Tech Books of 2009 and named by President Obama's science advisor John Holdren as his top recommended read. Sheril contributes to popular publications including Newsweek, The Washington Post, Discover Magazine, and The Nation, frequently covering topics that bridge science and society from climate change to genetically modified foods. Her writing is featured in the anthology The Best American Science Writing 2010. In 2006 Sheril served as a legislative Knauss science fellow on Capitol Hill with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) where she was involved in energy, climate, and ocean policy. She also has experience working on pop radio and her work has been published in Science, Fisheries Bulletin, Oecologia, and Issues in Science and Technology. In 2007, she helped to found Science Debate; an initiative encouraging candidates to debate science research and innovation issues on the campaign trail. Previously, Sheril was a research associate at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and has served as a Fellow with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History and as a Howard Hughes Research Fellow. She has contributed reports to The Nature Conservancy and provided assistance on international protected area projects. Sheril serves as a science advisor to NPR's Science Friday and its nonprofit partner, Science Friday Initiative. She also serves on the program committee for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She speaks regularly around the country to audiences at universities, federal agencies, and museums and has been a guest on such programs as The Today Show and The Daily Rundown on MSNBC. Sheril is a graduate of Tufts University and holds two masters of science degrees in marine biology and marine policy from the University of Maine. She co-hosts The Intersection on Discover blogs with Chris Mooney and has contributed to DeSmogBlog, Talking Science, Wired Science and Seed. She was born in Suffern, New York and is also a musician. Sheril lives in Austin, Texas with her husband David Lowry.Interested in booking Sheril Kirshenbaum to speak at your next event? Contact Hachette Speakers Bureau 866.376.6591 info@hachettespeakersbureau.comFor more information, visit her website or email Sheril at srkirshenbaum@yahoo.com.


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