Kevin Kantor's "People You May Know" Spoken Word Poem Shows What It's Like When Facebook Tells You That You "May Know" Your Rapist
Around two thirds of rape victims know the person who attacked them, which is the kind of terrifying fact that tends to stick in your head for a lifetime. And in the age of social media, it also has added horrible dimensions: What happens when Facebook's algorithm displays your rapist under the "people you may know" heading? That's what the powerful spoken word poem "People You May Know" by Kevin Kantor drives home — the effect these seemingly innocuous technological features can have on victims. As you might imagine, the situation can mess with your head. A lot.
Kantor's skillful and emotional performance pulls no punches. He begins by saying straight out, "When my rapist showed up under the 'people you may know' tab on Facebook, it felt like the closest to a crime scene I have ever been." He goes on to describe the surreal experience of finding your rapist's Facebook profile — selfies and baby pictures and mutual friends — in chilling detail.
Kantor told Huffington Post that he hopes the poem will be helpful for male rape survivors. "If nothing else, I hope people realize that the systems in place that work to shame and silence male survivors of sexual violence are the same ones that work to invalidate the voices all survivors: women, trans* people, gender non-conforming folk," he said.
According to RAINN, around 10 percent of rape victims are male. They often face additional obstacles in dealing with the after effects of rape, including the fact that many people don't think of rape as something that happens to men. As Kantor added to Huffington Post, "I was asked why I, as a man, didn't 'fight back,' in a society that privileges and presupposes a dominant masculine identity. I believe one of the first steps in advocating for all survivors of sexual violence and abolishing our country's pervasive rape culture is championing the cause of gender equality."
You can check out his moving and thought-provoking performance below.
Image: Button Poetry/YouTube