by Jasmine Cruz and Reese Ungson
Last 10 July 2021, Time’s Up Ateneo (TUA) had our first public book club. We discussed Han Kang’s novel The Vegetarian. There were 23 registrants and 15 of them were able to attend. This event was a follow-up to TUA’s book club on Kate Manne’s Down Girl, held privately in April and May 2020.
We started by reminding participants that if they feel they need a breather and need to step out at any point in the discussion, they are free to do so. We also told them that they could directly chat with the facilitators, if they wanted to let them know. We then listed the novel’s trigger warnings. With these reminders, we told them that we wanted to foster a space where we can freely express ourselves and at the same time engage with each other in a respectful and tender manner.
Then we proceeded with the introductions. We asked participants for the name they’d like to be called by, their pronouns, their work or institution, and their age. Our check-in question for the participants were: Where are you coming from? What brought you here?
For the discussion, the preliminary questions were: What were your overall impressions of the book? How did you feel about eating meat afterwards? What did you find disturbing? Were there moments of levity in the book for you?
We also gave an outline of the themes of the book:
- the body as radical resistance and liberation
- the imagery of nature, flowers, and animals
- the sides of a coin: the landscapes of trauma and burden of care
- the multiple points of view that bring together a picture of Yeong-hye
We wrapped up with announcements. We invited the participants to a podcast discussion on the book; our next book club which will be about The Secret to Superhuman Strength by Alison Bechdel; our upcoming events such as support circles (small-group sharing and supportive conversations for survivors, supporters of survivors, and advocates who are dealing with the effects of the issue of sexual violence and the challenges of the advocacy), zine making, and Conspiring Against the Patriarchy (semi-structured chikahan sessions about how to bring down the patriarchy).
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Time’s Up Ateneo (TUA) is a collective of survivors and advocates fighting against sexual violence and impunity in the university and beyond. Connect with Time’s Up Ateneo through email, Facebook, Twitter, and our website. TUA is working on a community project called the Haliya Network, a network of school-based anti-sexual violence organizations. Earlier this year, TUA’s Haliya Network project was awarded a P35,000 grant by the Project Urduja: Empowering Emerging Filipina Leaders. TUA’s 2021 demands to Ateneo are: to rectify and apologize for the 23 October 2019 memorandum from the Office of the President of Ateneo; to formally release past survivors from non-disclosure agreements signed with the university; to commit not to weaponize the Data Privacy Act; and to investigate adverse actions against survivors and advocates as retaliation. These demands were released as part of a joint statement with the Sanggunian: Commission on Anti-Sexual Misconduct and Violence. Check out TUA’s podcast episodes with Chikang Bayi entitled “Dear Time’s Up Ateneo – Hoy Misogyny, Time’s Up!” and “Dear Time’s Up Ateneo – No More Time for Enablers”. Read TUA’s Stories of Resistance, Stories of Hope: A Series of Online Testimonials about the 15 October 2019 Protest and the Anti-Sexual Violence Movement in Ateneo (https://timesupateneo.org/stories), where survivors and advocates expressed themselves through written pieces, videos, and art. TUA is working on our study entitled “Silenced: Retaliation Against Sexual Violence Survivors and Advocates in Schools,” which was presented at the 12th National Conference of the Women’s and Gender Studies Association of the Philippines in May 2021.