Clare O’Connor is a Los Angeles-based writer and activist with roots in Toronto. She served on the editorial committee of Upping the anti: a journal of theory and action (2008-2012) and is an editor of the forthcoming project Keywords for Radicals.
It’s been three decades since Canadian legislators replaced the word “rape” with “sexual assault.” Against a backdrop of persistent sexual violence, changes in language reveal how much work is yet to be done.
Some PIRG supporters fear that adopting controversial positions will provoke attack. Especially after a defunding effort, PIRGs tend to endure a chilling effect during which volunteers and staff can be seduced by “neutrality” and engage in self-censorship.