Kat Blaque makes an appearance at UCD

Let’s talk about sex, baby.

Throughout the month of April, several clubs and student government organizations collaborated on the “Let’s Talk About Sex” campaign, which aimed to promote healthy sexuality through discussions about consent, sexual health, healing, artistic expression and more. Still, a holistic conversation about sexuality in society must also address the darker issues of sexual assault and rape culture.

The campaign culminated on Friday, April 29 with a presentation from YouTube content creator and HuffPost blogger Kat Blaque. Though she had no mug of tea to sip from—an iconic part of her videos that you’ll grow to love when you watch them—she did bring her powerful, energetic voice, and let her words fill up the room with their importance.

Kat’s intersections of identity as a Black trans woman of size means that she sometimes jokingly refers to herself as “intersectionality salad.” This “salad” allows and inspires her to use her YouTube videos to spur dialogue about a range of topics including feminism, racism, diversity in media and gender violence. Kat herself admitted that sexual assault and rape are rarer themes for her channel.

In fact, she revealed that the talk was one of the first times in which she opened up to her audience about her sexual assaults and her growth as a survivor. As a teen, Kat experienced sexual assault on two separate occasions. Now an adult, she recognizes that a pervasive rape culture infiltrated her own thoughts and caused her to internalize its most problematic aspects, including victim blaming. Though Kat’s sexual assault experiences were not due to any fault of her own, she believed they were.

In the aftermath of dealing with sexual trauma, Kat entered a period riddled with self-doubt, confusion and bargaining. A perfect storm of trauma-induced memory loss and the culture of victim-blaming that has become the knee-jerk reaction of sexual assault cases in the United States, left Kat questioning the legitimacy of her own experiences. In due time, Kat recognized how rape and rape culture are tools that silence and delegitimize those affected. Not only did the act itself take away her voice and power in that moment, but the effects of rape culture continued to pervade Kat’s online presence. She received rape threats from a relentless user named Kenneth, in addition to threats of lynching, gun violence and transphobic slurs.

Despite the efforts of Kenneth and others like him, Kat continues to create a dialogue about marginalized identities and systemic oppression on her social media platforms, including Facebook, where she posts on a daily basis. UC Davis students were able to see this dialogue materialize in a space outside of social media. A fruitful Q&A session followed Kat’s story, during which students revealed that they were passionate about improving and creating comprehensive resources and spaces for trans folks, and curious about preventative initiatives to combat sexual assault in the Davis community, and visibility for people of color. Many realized that they were allowed to be angry about rape culture and its repercussions, or about the lack of attention given to their struggles, and that they were allowed to vocalize that frustration.

And that’s the magic of Kat Blaque. She not only embodies the concept of an “intersectionality salad,” but her willingness to create an open dialogue manifests into a myriad of different voices and identities coming together to better understand and work against tools of silence and oppression. This is what “good feminism” should always be: intersectional, inclusive and rooted in community building.

Kat’s decision to embrace vulnerability—to share her own experiences as a black trans woman of size and sexual assault survivor—encouraged students come forward and share their fears and concerns to initiate the demand for a safer campus environment, available resources for all gender identities, racial identities, sexual orientations, physical and mental abilities and their intersections.Not one person walked out of that auditorium without learning something new, or having widened their understanding of the problems that continue to exist on a micro level at UC Davis, and a macro level in society at large. Intersectionality salad is good for us. It’s healthy. It allows us to digest the things we do not know firsthand, so that we too can recognize and dismantle tools of silence when they are at work.