this is a guest post written by Lena Chervin
On January 22nd, 2015, Sarah Sullivan, a prominent teacher and organizer in the Baltimore lindy hop community published a blog post detailing her experience of being sexually assaulted by Steven Mitchell, a popular international lindy hop instructor.
Her post has sparked outrage and debate throughout the lindy community worldwide. Within days of posting, over 350 comments were made on the blog; at least four other women reported their own stories of sexual assault at the hands of Steven Mitchell; an online national panel of swing dance leaders met to discuss safer spaces; a Safe Dance Spaces Tumblr was created; and Steven Mitchell was dis-invited from teaching at several events.
Perhaps most importantly, there has been an explosion of conversation online, both in forum groups such as Safety Dance, and on individuals’ private Facebook walls.
As our community works through all this, it is vital that we recognize the role that power and social capital play in sexual violence within our communities. The vast majority of people who hold power in our communities contribute nothing but positivity. However, a select few misuse their power-whether intentionally or not. Perhaps if we recognize and understand how power is used as a tool for abuse, we can prevent sexual violence by simply taking that tool away from the people misusing it.