Monday, December 22, 2008

The Not Rape Epidemic

By Latoya Peterson
Published in Yes Means Yes and posted on Racialicious

*Trigger Warning*

Latoya’s Note: So, as promised, here’s the original version of the essay that appears in Yes Means Yes. If you see this popping up in your reader, I do not recommend you read it at work.

Rape is only four letters, one small syllable, and yet it is one of the hardest words to coax from your lips when you need it most.

Entering our teenage years in the sex saturated ’90s, my friends and I knew tons about rape. We knew to always be aware while walking, to hold your keys out as a possible weapon against an attack. We knew that we shouldn’t walk alone at night, and if we absolutely had to, we were to avoid shortcuts, dark paths, or alleyways. We even learned ways to combat date rape, even though none of us were old enough to have friends that drove, or to be invited to parties with alcohol. We memorized the mantras, chanting them like a yogic sutra, crafting our words into a protective charm with which to ward off potential rapists: do not walk alone at night. Put a napkin over your drink at parties. Don’t get into cars with strange men. If someone tries to abduct you, scream loudly and try to attack them because a rapist tries to pick women who are easy targets.

Yes, we learned a lot about rape.

What we were not prepared for was everything else. Rape was something we could identify, an act with a strict definition and two distinct scenarios. Not rape was something else entirely.

Not rape was all those other little things that we experienced everyday and struggled to learn how to deal with those situations. In those days, my ears were filled with secrets that were not my own, the confessions of not rapes experienced by the girls I knew then and the women I know now.

When I was twelve, my best friend at the time had met a guy and lied to him about her age. She told him she was sixteen and she did have the body to back it up. Some “poor hapless” guy sleeping with her accidentally would make complete sense - except for the fact that guy was twenty-five. He eventually slept with her, taking her virginity, even after he figured out how old we were. After all, it’s kind of a dead giveaway if you’re picking your girlfriend up at a middle school.

Another friend of mine friend shocked me one day after a guy (man really) walked past us and she broke down into a sobbing heap where we stood. She confided in me that when she was eleven she had a child, but her mother had forced her to put the child up for adoption. The baby’s father was the guy who had nonchalantly passed her by on the street. We were thirteen at the time, a few weeks shy of entering high school.

Later, I found out that she was at school when she met her future abuser/baby daddy. He was aware she was about eleven - what other age group is enrolled in Middle School? At the time, this guy was about nineteen. He strung her along in this grand relationship fantasy, helping her to cut school as they drove around and had sex in the back of his car. When she got pregnant with his child, he dropped her. However, living in the same area means she would run into him about once a month, normally leading to an outburst of tears or screaming fits on her end and cool indifference (with the occasional “you were just a slut anyway”) from him.

In high school, I had two Asian friends I was fairly close with. We would often end up hanging out after school at the mall with all the other teenagers our age. Occasionally, we would take the bus to the really nice mall in the upper class neighborhood, so we could be broke in style. It was there - in the affluent neighborhood - that my Asian friends dealt with the worst of their harassment. I can remember that each friend, on different occasions, was approached by older white men in their thirties and forties and quizzed about their ethnic backgrounds, ages, and dating status. These men always seemed to slip cards into their hands, asking them to call them later. My friends smiled demurely, always waiting until the man had gone before throwing their number away.

The years kept passing and the stories kept coming.

My ex-boyfriend had a friend who had been dating the same girl for about seven years. I found out the girl was eighteen at the time of their breakup. Eighteen minus seven equals what? The girl was eleven when they began dating while the man involved was nineteen. When the relationship ended, he was twenty-seven. I expressed disgust, and my ex had told me that while everyone else in their friend circle had felt the same way, the girl’s parents were fine with it, even allowing the guy to spend the night at their home. “Besides,” my ex offered nonchalantly, “she had the body of a grown woman at age eleven.”

Not rape came in other many other forms as well. No one escaped - all my friends had some kind of experience with it during their teen years.

Not rape was being pressured into losing your virginity in a swimming pool pump room to keep your older boyfriend happy.

Not rape was waking up in the middle of the night to find a trusted family friend in bed with you - and having nightmares about something that you can’t remember during the daylight hours.

Not rape was having your mother’s boyfriends ask you for sexual favors.

Not rape was feeling the same group of boys grope you between classes, day after day after day.

Not rape was being twelve years old, having a “boyfriend” who was twenty-four and trading sex for free rides, pocket money, Reeboks, and a place to stay when your mother was tripping.

My friends and I confided in each other, swapping stories, sharing out pain, while keeping it all hidden from the adults in our lives. After all, who could we tell? This wasn’t rape - it didn’t fit the definitions. This was Not rape. We should have known better. We were the ones who would take the blame. We would be punished, and no one wanted that. So, these actions went on, aided by a cloak of silence.

For me, Not rape came in the form of a guy from around the neighborhood. I remember that they called him Puffy because he looked like the rapper Sean “Puffy” Combs. He was friends with a guy I was friends with, T. I was home alone on hot summer day when I heard a knock on the patio door. I peeked through the blinds and recognized Puffy, so I opened the door a few inches. He asked if I had seen T around, and I told him no. The conversation continued, the contents so trivial that they are lost to memory.

So, I have no idea why he chose to pause and look me full in the face before saying:

“I can do whatever I want to you.”

My youthful braggadocio got the best of me, so I spat out, “Oh, what the fuck ever,” moving to pull the door closed.

Quick as a cobra, his hand darted past the screen, catching my wrist as I reached for the latch. A bit of tugging quickly turned sinister as I realized he wasn’t playing around.

He pinned me in the doorway, forcing me down to the floor barely inside my apartment. Holding my arm behind my back with one hand as I struggled against him, he calmly, deliberately allowed his free hand to explore my body. He squeezed my still budding breasts, then slipped his hands down my pants, taking his time while feeling up my behind. When he was finished, he let me up, saying again, “I can do whatever I want.” After he finished his cold display of power, he walked away.

After he left, I closed the balcony door, locked it, and put the security bar in the window, even though it was broad daylight.

I felt disgusting and dirty and used. I remember wanting to take a shower, but instead taking a seat on the couch trying to process what had happened and what I could do next.

Fighting him was out, as he had already proved he was stronger than I was. I considered telling some of my guy friends, but I quickly realized I had nothing to tell them. After all, I wasn’t raped, and it would really come to my word against his. As I was the neighborhood newcomer, I was at a disadvantage on that front. Telling my mom was out as well - I’d only get into trouble for opening the door for boys while she was at work.

I gritted my teeth in frustration. There was nothing I could do to him that wouldn’t come back on me worse. So I got up, took my shower, and stayed silent.

A few weeks later, I ran into T and some other guys from the neighborhood while I was walking to the store with one of my friends. T informed us that they were going to hang out in one of the empty apartments in the neighborhood. This was a popular activity in my old neighborhood - some guys would normally find a way to gain entry into one of the vacant apartments or townhouses and then use the place as a clubhouse for a few days.

My friend was game, but I felt myself hesitate. The memory of my Not rape was still fresh in my mind and T was still friends with Puffy. There was also the possibility that Puffy would be there in the apartment, and that was a confrontation I did not want. I refused, and my friend was angry at me for passing up the chance to hang out with the cutest boys in the neighborhood. Since I had never told this particular friend what happened, I shrugged off her anger and made an excuse to head home.

A few days after that meeting, I was on the school bus headed to morning classes. The local news report was on and the announcement that came across the airwaves stunned the normally rowdy bus into silence. The voice on the radio informed us of a brutal rape that occurred in our neighborhood. Due to the savage nature of the crime, all six of the teenage defendants would be tried as adults. The names were read and a collective gasp rose from the bus - T’s name was on that list! Jay, a guy who knew about the friendly flirtation I had going with T, leaned over and joked “Uh-huh - T’s gonna get you!”

I remained silent as my mind was racing. The strongest, most persistent thought rose to the top of my mind - oh my God, that could have been me.

At the time, I didn’t know how right I was.

A few years later, I was a high school junior on top of the world. For the most part, memories of my Not rape had been buried in the back of my mind somewhere. My third year in high school was consumed by two major responsibilities: student government and mock trial.

When I was sixteen, I knew I was destined to be a lawyer and I took advantage of every opportunity that would push me toward that goal. I signed up for mock trial and as part of our responsibilities our trial team was supposed to watch a criminal proceeding in action.

On the day we arrived at the local courthouse, there were three trials on the docket: a traffic case, a murder case, and a rape case. Nixing the traffic case, we trouped into the first courtroom which held the murder trial, only to find that the trial was on hold, pending pre-trial motions. We turned back and went into the courtroom where the rape trial was being held.

Never did it cross my mind that I would walk through the doors to see to picture of my Not rapist, captured in a Polaroid and displayed on a whiteboard with the other five rapists being tried. The prosecution was speaking, so we were quickly caught up on the specifics of the case.

While the rape had occurred in 1997 and most of the defendants - including T - had been convicted in 1998, this was the trial to determine the fate of the last of the six, a man who claimed he had left the scene before any crime had occurred.

Through word of mouth, I had learned that T had been sentenced and he would not be eligible for parole until he was forty-six years old. (I have since learned that T should be released by the end of this year. His victim should be about 21 years of age.) I had also learned that the crime was a gang rape, but knew no other details.

The prosecutor pulled out a picture of the girl the six boys had brutalized. In the first photo she was bright-eyed and neat looking, her dark hair pulled into a high ponytail which complimented her fair skin. She was dressed in athletic casual wear, as if she was on her way to a track meet.

The prosecutor then pulled out a second picture, taken post assault. Her face was a mass of purple and red bruises. One of her eyes was blood red - the attorney informed us that she had received extensive damage to the blood vessels in her eyes. The other eye was swollen shut. Her lips were also bloodied and bruised. He placed the two photographs side by side. From photo to photo, the girl had been rendered unrecognizable.

Quietly laying out the facts, the prosecutor deftly painted a tale of horror. The girl had met T and another boy (my Not rapist? I still didn’t know his government name) on a bus. The boys had convinced her to come with them and they led her to a vacant apartment. Unknown to the girl, there were four other men also hanging out that day. She was forced to give oral sex to some of the men, and then she was beaten, raped, and sodomized. She was found in the apartment unconscious, surrounded by used condoms, semen, and fecal matter.

My blood ran cold as I tried to process what I was hearing.

T was capable of this? The prosecutor was still speaking, and he made mention that there appeared to be one main ringleader with the other five guys going along for the ride. My teammates sat in rapt attention while I tried to figure out how soon we could leave. On one hand, I realized that my Not rapist and T were behind bars already, instead of roaming the streets to do this to someone else.

And yet, a part of me wondered if I should have spoken up. If I had told someone, anyone, could I have prevented this from happening? I regarded the girl’s picture once again. It is pretty rare to see the expression “beaten to a bloody pulp” illustrated in real life. I should have said something, I thought to myself, I should have tried.

My internal monologue was interrupted by the defense attorney taking the floor. He pointed out his client from the photos lining the wall, and calmly explained how his client was present in the apartment, but left before the attack began. He built his case, explaining that his client was generally a good kid, but outnumbered, and that his client opted to leave the area instead of participate in any wrongdoing. He then turned to the jury and said:

You will also hear that —– wasn’t such a good girl after all. You will hear that she skipped school. You will hear that she smoked marijuana. You will hear that she willingly skipped school to go smoke marijuana with two boys she had just met.

My mouth fell open out of shock. There wasn’t even a question of consent in this case - the damage to the girl’s face attested to that. And yet, here was this defense attorney trying to assassinate the victim’s character. For what? Why was what she was doing that day even relevant in the context of what she experienced?

The defense attorney finished his opening statement and the judge started dispensing instructions to the jury. I forced myself to swallow the bile in my throat. As the judge dismissed the court for a break, I scooted out of the room and took a deep breath of air. My team went for lunch, and I persuaded them not to go back to watch the next part of the trial.

That day in court was the day I fully understood the concept of being raped twice - first during the act and then later during the court proceedings. That was also the day I realized that telling someone about my Not rape would have netted a similar, if not more dismissive response. I had no evidence of the act, no used condom wrapper, no rape kit, no forced penetration.

If the defense attorney was attempting to sow the seeds of doubt in the face of indisputable evidence, what would have happened if I had chosen to speak up?

This is how the Not Rape epidemic spreads - through fear and silence, which become complicit in perpetuating the behaviors described here. Women of all backgrounds are affected by these kinds of acts, regardless of race, ethnicity, or social class. So many of us carry the scars of the past with us into our daily lives. Most of us have pushed these stories to the back of our minds, trying to have some semblance of a normal life that includes romantic and sexual relationships. However, waiting just behind the tongue is story after story of the horrors other women experience and hide deep within the self behind a protective wall of silence.

As I continue to discuss these issues, I continue to be surprised when revealing my story reveals an outpouring of emotion or confession from other women. When I first began discussing my Not Rape and all of the baggage that comes with it, I expected to be blamed or not to be believed.

I never expected that each woman I told would respond with her own story in kind.

I am twenty-four years old now, ten years removed from my Not rape. I still think of the girl who was assaulted and hope that she was still able to have something of a normal life. As I matured, I came to understand more about the situation. As the years passed, my shame turned to anger, and I began learning the tools I could have used to fight back.

At age fourteen, I lacked the words to speak my experience into reality. Without those words, I was rendered silent and impotent, burdened with the knowledge of what did not happen, but unable to free myself by talking about what did happen.

I cannot change the experiences of the past.

But, I can teach these words, so that they may one day be used by a young girl to save herself.

Not rape comes in many forms - it is often known by other names. What happened to me is called a sexual assault. It is not the same as rape, but it is damaging and painful. My friends experienced statutory rape, molest, and coercion.

What happened in the courtroom is a byproduct of rape culture - when what happens to women in marginalized, when beyond a shadow of a doubt still isn’t enough, when your past, manner of dress, grade point average or intoxication level are used to excuse the despicable acts of sexual violence inflicted upon you by another.

Internalized shame is what I experienced, that heavy feeling that it was my fault for allowing the sexual assault to happen. There was a fear that if I spoke up, people would look at me differently, or worse, wouldn’t believe me at all.

Without these words, those experiences feed off each other, perpetuating a culture of silence and allowing these attacks to continue.

With the proper tools, we equip our girls to speak of their truth and to end the silence that is complicit in rape culture.

Teenaged girls need to know that dating an older man will not make them cooler, and that older man cannot rescue them from their parents. Teenaged boys should be able to help as well, trying to keep their friends away from predators. (My male friends did this for me a few times if they were around, coming to my aid of some guy started acting up. For some reason, the simple presence of another man is enough to make these kind of men leave.) Adult men should be cautioned about the effects of the actions and how most of these girls are not of the age of consent. And parents should be made aware that their children are being targeted by predatory men and that they should stay vigilant.

Adults, particularly older women, should take an active interest in the young girls they know.
My boyfriend has two younger sisters. One of them recently entered her teenage years. Her body started to develop and she has attracted more male attention. I notice small changes in her - how she looks at the floor a lot more than she used to, or how she seems uncomfortable going anywhere without a group of girlfriends. She still looks like an average teenager but she is often hesitant and uncomfortable, unless she is around her peers. However, I knew her before she developed so quickly. And I notice the change that a year (as well as taking the metro to and from school) starts. I’m fairly certain she’s trying to navigate the minefield of male attention she receives.

After all, I’ve walked that same field as well.

Finally, we need to cast a critical eye on how rape culture is perpetuated on an institutional level. From how hospitals distribute rape kits to keeping tags on questionable verdicts, we must take the lead in telling the criminal justice system that rape apologists and enablers will not be tolerated.

But above all, we must give girls the tools they need to defend themselves against sexual predators.

The small things we can do - paying attention, giving the words they need, instilling the confidence in which to handle these situations and providing a non judgmental ear when a student or teen approaches us with a problem - may be the best, an perhaps only, weapons they have to continue the fight against this epidemic.

Rape is yours

Thomas Says:
December 19, 2008 at 11:11 am

Anna, Hanne Blank’s piece references, of all people, Augustine of Hippo, and late-Roman Christian theologian, as an early example of the line of thinking that the body is not the sum of the experience, and assaults don’t count. My view on it is, if you’ve been assaulted, you didn’t deserve it or ask for it, but you have to live with it: so you own it, in an intellectual property sense. You can define it however you want — sex, not sex, lost/didn’t lose virginity; talk about it or stay silent; get angry, get sad, or refuse to spend a minute being angry or sad because of what someone else did against your will — you didn’t want it, but as long as it’s been thrown at you, it’s yours and you can do with it whatever works for you.

Found in Yes Means Yes comments on the Real First Time

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bystander Effect

Wiggin murder put 'bystander effect' to the test

By Brent Curtis Staff Writer

Article published Nov 30, 2008

As Castleton State College instructor Linda Wiggin was being beaten to death in her Poultney home earlier this month, at least one person heard her repeated cries for help, according to court documents.

Yet no one called police until days later.

Wiggin, 49, was allegedly beaten to death by her boyfriend, 41-year-old David Denny, who occasionally lived with her in the first floor of the home she owned at 186 College St. He has been charged with second-degree murder.

As an argument between Wiggin and Denny escalated on Nov. 10, one of the four college students that Wiggin rented rooms to on the second floor told police she heard most of the argument, including Wiggin's repeated calls of "help please" or "help police."

But police weren't called until days after Wiggin's death, prompting outrage from some residents who wondered why the student or her roommates hadn't notified police sooner.

The student's reaction, however, isn't uncommon, according to psychologists and sociologists. In fact, it is case in point of a disturbing social phenomenon: the bystander effect.

Despite repeated attempts to contact the tenants at the Wiggin home, none could be reached.

While most people believe they would know how to react in a situation where another person's well-being, or even their own life could be in danger, many bystanders do nothing because of doubts, fear of repercussions or even the simple belief that someone else will call for help.

Evan Harrington, a social and forensic psychologist who teaches at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, said he has witnessed such phenomena firsthand when he stumbled upon a mugging in New York Central Park several years ago.

As a man was being mugged and beaten in broad daylight, Harrington said he noticed other passers-by witnessed the event but failed to respond. In the end, Harrington said he chose to take action by calling police.

Looking back on that incident, Harrington said he witnessed more than a mugging; he had seen multiple social and psychological phenomena take place.

Onlookers to a criminal act who are part of a crowd often reinforce such beliefs by looking to their fellow bystanders to see how they react in what is known in sociological terms as "pluralistic ignorance" and "diffusion of responsibility."

Pluralistic ignorance holds that individuals will act against their own beliefs if they run contrary to the actions of a group. Therefore, an individual in a group of people who are doing nothing during an emergency situation are likely to imitate the actions of those around based on the belief that the opinion of the group to do nothing is the correct action, he said.

The other phenomenon of diffusion of responsibility holds that if a group of people witness a crime or emergency, the individuals within the group are less likely to render help out of the belief that someone else in the group will or already has done so, he said.

While there are sometimes those in a crowd concerned with their own safety, and thus unwilling to get involved, Harrington said he believes it's more likely that most onlookers don't believe what they are seeing. In the case of the mugging that he witnessed, for example, he said it would be easier for most people to believe the two men were "horsing around" rather than believe a crime was taking place.

Harrington said the same sort of disbelief and doubt takes place every day at a much more subtle level when people witness behavior that troubles them but leaves them unconvinced a crime is taking place.

"It's like when you see people in the supermarket where a parent is hitting a child," he said. "It could be child abuse, but corporal punishment is generally accepted in this country, and an onlooker might tend to believe that what they are seeing is a private matter and none of their business."

That sort of thinking factors into incidents of domestic abuse, as well, he said, in cases where onlookers or those in earshot might believe the curses and shouting they hear are a private affair.

An onlooker's propensity to lend help becomes even more unlikely when there is a belief that there could be consequences to their actions, said Jack Levin, a professor of sociology and criminology at Northeastern University.

"In a small town where there are few murders taking place, that's not on the mind of bystanders who are likely to be concerned with more mundane consequences such as embarrassment or being shunned or angering your landlord or her boyfriend," Levin said, referring to the circumstances in the Wiggin case.

Also, because arguments between Wiggin and Denny weren't uncommon, Levin said it's possible that the students believed the fighting downstairs was no different than arguments in the past.

"I don't want to excuse apathetic behavior, and bystanders should always err on the side of caution, but the possibility of retaliation or even eviction may have played a role here," Levin said.

Even when domestic incidents involve neighbors who aren't the landlord, many people opt not to get involved out of fear of angering a neighbor they will have to live with after the police intervene, Levin said.

That sort of thinking is something State Police Detective Tim Oliver said he can relate to.

Oliver, who oversees the detective division at the State Police barracks in Rutland, said he has heard from neighbors in his own cases, as well as anecdotally from other officers, the explanation that people overhearing a domestic incident don't want to get involved for fear of being "jerk neighbors."

But while he said he understands neighbors' fears of angering a couple next door or wasting police officers' time, Oliver echoed Levin's words that it's better to take a chance than it is to let a potentially violent and deadly encounter play out.

"It's better to be safe than sorry and err on the side of caution," Oliver said.

From a victim's point of view, Harrington said the best way to get help in an emergency is to be specific when calling for help.

"Rather than diffuse the responsibility, you should put it on one witness, even if it amounts to pointing at someone in particular and saying 'Hey, you, call the police,' " he said. "It makes the call for help personal, and it frees the witness from doubts that they might be doing the wrong thing because even if it does turn out to be a false alarm the witness can say 'Look, they told me to get help.'"

From a legislative standpoint, Vermont, like many other states, passed a Good Samaritan law 40 years ago that shields those who render aid from any legal liability. Vermont's Samaritan law also threatens a $100 fine against anyone who watches a life-threatening effect unfold but does nothing.

At least, that's how the law works theoretically.

In practice, the law, titled "Emergency Medical Care," is rarely invoked as a protection, and has never been called on, so far as state crime statisticians are aware, to punish someone for inaction. Like most Samaritan laws, the law in Vermont was tailored to free witnesses of a medical emergency from any doubts about rendering assistance.

The extremely rare use of the law was troubling to lawmakers interviewed last week. But legislators serving in the House and Senate Judiciary Committee rejected the notion of stiffening the law and applying it to criminal cases, such as Wiggin's slaying.

Sen. John Campbell, D-Windsor, who is vice-chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he believes witnesses to criminal events have a "moral obligation" to call police.

"In this case, my God, how much clearer can you get," he said, referring to the Wiggin case. "We have a moral responsibility as human beings to render assistance."

However, he said he doesn't believe moral responsibilities translate well into legal obligations.

Making participation on the part of onlookers a legal responsibility with potential criminal sanctions would be a "slippery slope," Campbell cautioned.

"As much as I find this distressing … from a prosecutorial standpoint, it's difficult to prove, number one, and number two, it would open a lot of people up to liability. It would be a Pandora's Box," he said. "The message of this at day's end is we all need to look in the mirror and say, 'Could we have done something to prevent someone else's death?"

Campbell's concerns about walking a legislative tightrope were echoed by Assistant Attorney General Michael McShane, who said tailoring a law that would coerce people to intervene in criminal acts would potentially compel bystanders to either put themselves in harm's way or open themselves to legal liability.

"It's tricky to see that and it could end badly," McShane said. "It's a tricky place to legislate in."

However, Rep. Margaret Flory, R-Pittsford, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, said she believes bystanders already may be civilly liable for their actions or lack thereof based on one of the few Supreme Court decisions that has cited the state's Good Samaritan law.

In Sabia vs. The State of Vermont, Flory said the court talked about a civil duty to report during emergencies — a finding she said could include observations of any criminal activity.

"There's a big difference between a criminal and a private action," she said. "I don't think there's any way that someone could be held criminally negligent under the existing law, but who knows what kind of private suit could be brought?"

Like Campbell, Flory said she didn't believe a law that criminally punished witnesses who didn't act when crimes were taking place would be a good idea. In Flory's opinion, such a law would dilute the effectiveness of mandatory reporting laws applying to teachers, counselors and medical personnel who are compelled to report any criminal activity that they learn about.

"You can get to a point that there are so many mandatory reporters that the law is no longer effective," she said.

Contact Brent Curtis at brent.curtis@

Monday, December 15, 2008

Alcohol is the #1 drug used to Rape

Sociological Images blog has a post on recent (though not new) alcohol ads encouraging Rape.

*Consent is statutorily impossible if a person is intoxicated. Therefore encouraging someone to drink, then taking advantage is Rape. Whether or not they claim it. And you are taking advantage.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Quoted: Coaching men

Cross posted from Prevent-Connect Digest 929 and The Consequences of a Naked Foot

I would want them to be aware that historically, sexual assault was framed as a women's issue - ie: "it's their problem, let them deal with it." Thanks to the hard work of many people over the past thirty years, we've now come to realize that statistically violent assaults of all kinds, especially sexual assault, are overwhelmingly perpetrated by men (regardless of the gender of the victim); this points us toward the roots of such violence, and shines a long overdue light on masculine culture. Clearly any effort intent on eradicating violence must put educating males front and center; across the nation in the last fifteen years there has been a definitive shift toward primary prevention efforts where such education is the focus.

I would want them to be aware that the central component of sexual violence is misogyny. This misogyny perpetuates today despite the changing roles of women in the real world, because the language with which we refer to women has not shifted; much of what we say and do continues to reflect the attitude that women are no just different than men, but are less than men. Once you establish that a group of people have less value than you do, you pave the way for justifying all kinds of behavior that otherwise would be unconscionable in a just, decent, and democratic society.

I would want them to be aware that misogyny hurts men. Not just because our daughters, sisters, partners/wives, mothers, and peers are being hurt, but also because in a society where a certain identity is considered sub-standard everyone's behavior is viewed and critiqued through this distorted lens.

I would want them to be aware that if they want to end violence on their campus, they must do more than merely provide workshops for their students; they must stop
reinforcing negative belief systems. This means no more shouting at their players "C'mon, run faster you pussy!", or "You're throwing like a girl", or "It's game time, let's go beat those faggots." [yes, actual quotes from college coaches and athletes].

So, to be fair, that last point isn't a trend. Yet. Maybe instead of being curious "about 'Trends' in sexual violence and prevention work", these coaches could be encouraged to be trend setters...

Stephen Montagna

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Men who want to support women in our struggle for freedom and justice should understand that it is not terrifically important to us that they learn to cry; it is important to us that they stop the crimes of violence against us. – Andrea Dworkin

CWAR: Rape violently reflects the sexism in a society where power is unequally distributed between women and men, black and white, poor and rich…In rape, the woman is not a sexual being but a vulnerable piece of public property; the man does not violate society’s norms so much as take them to a logical conclusion.

"people will be less likely to use sex or sexuality as a weapon against
others in a world that respects one's sexuality as part of one's humanity."

“if you’re the exception that proves the rule, and the rule is that women are inferior, you haven’t made any progress.

I think it’s funny that people are always saying that our culture is oversexualized, because I think we’re totally undersexualized. All we are is overcommercialized.

When people talk about female empowerment, what they usually mean is women accepting happily, or if not happily at least smilingly, where we’re at. A sexually liberated woman right now is a woman who looks at Maxim and doesn’t feel bummed out by it.

If we’re going to have sexual role models, it should be the women who enjoy sex the most, not the women who get paid the most to enact it.” – Ariel Levy

“Rape is not an isolated act that can be rooted out from patriarchy without ending patriarchy itself. The same men and power structure who victimize women are engaged in the act of raping Vietnam, raping Black people, and the very earth we live upon…No simple reforms can eliminate rape.”

"I have never been free of the fear of Rape. From a very early age I, like most women, have thought of rape as a part of my natural environment – something to be feared and prayed against like fire or lightening…

Rape is an act of aggression in which the victim is denied her self-determination. It is an act of violence, which, if not actually followed by beatings or murder, nevertheless always carries with it the threat of death. And finally, rape is a form of mass terrorism, for the victims of rape are chosen indiscriminately, but the propagandists for male supremacy broadcast that it is women who cause rape by being unchaste or in the wrong place at the wrong time – in essence, by behaving as though they were free." Susan Griffin “Rape – The All-American Crime” 1971

Thursday, October 2, 2008

How NOT to Rape Someone

Don’t assume that a person wants to have sex.

Understand and respect that all people have their own
boundaries (and the only way to know them is to ASK!)

Be aware that alcohol and other drugs are not an excuse to
ignore cues from your partner.

Know that a person is incapable of consent if intoxicated—
and penetration without consent is rape.

Appreciate a well-crafted outfit without assuming that the person wearing it wants to have sex with you.

Enjoy flirting as a way to hone your wit, without assuming the person wants to have sex with you.

Don’t assume that some sexual activity, or past activity, means a person wants to have sex with you now.

Always provide opportunity for your partner to say “no” and respect their answer—even if it’s not what you were hoping for.

If you feel like someone’s sending mixed messages—ask them.

It’s ok to want to have sex, it is not ok to expect it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Rape and Republicans

A new study by Child Trends reinforced the 1:5 statistic we know about the likelihood that a woman will be raped in her youth. What's just beginning to be talked about is how this relates to reproductive health. The Family Violence Prevention Fund is using this new research to highlight an issue that's largely overlooked: how dating violence - including sexual violence - relates to reproductive heath, and by extension, the upcoming election.

Not only does the (republican) government want to control women's bodies - it's a trick that abusive partners have learned as well. When we talk about teen pregnancy, we need to include the conversation of how and WHY these girls are having babies. Lack of comprehensive health education? Coercive dating partners (again, lack of comprehensive health education including sexual violence education)? Doesn't matter to the GOP - those sluts are going to have the freedom to make their own choice - just like Bristol Palin - as long as their choice is forced pregnancy and marriage to the boy owning the penis that the sperm shot out of. Who cares if he's abusive and the pregnancy is a result of birth control sabotage and rape? Not Sarah Palin (who thinks any rape survivor who has the audacity to demand justice should have to pay for their own Evidence Collection Kit).

Ladies, don't kid yourself the GOP hates you. Even you white, upper classed privileged ones that support them.

More links atFeministing

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I Blame the Patriarchy

Twisty's back from her blogging hiatus with a vengence.

Check her post on Rape Culture

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Must Read

It's not new and I admit to being shamefully under-read in the Dworkin arena but I'm building a mandatory reading list for I don't know who and this has been added.

I Want a Twenty-Four-Hour Truce During Which There is No Rape*

*There's a typo - the large paragraph on page 6 (paragraph 34) should be crossed out.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Virginity and Rape

I went to a sexual assault a few weeks ago and the victim described it as her first time. I looked her in the eye and said "That was NOT your first time. That will NOT be the story that you tell your friends when you all someday look back and reminisce. That was NOT sex."

GIRLdrive ponders a bit more how Rape and virginity intersect.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Some hope

Posted by brownfemipower on La Chola blog:

*The statement below was forwarded to me by friend, colleague and comrade William Jelani Cobb. Please feel free to add your name to the statement and to forward it to others.*

The Online Petition (currently holding 377 signatures)

–Mark Anthony Neal

*Statement of Black Men Against the Exploitation of Black Women*

Six years have gone by since we first heard the allegations that R. Kelly had filmed himself having sex with an underage girl. During that time we have seen the videotape being hawked on street corners in Black communities, as if the dehumanization of one of our own was not at stake. We have seen entertainers rally around him and watched his career reach new heights despite the grave possibility that he had molested and urinated on a 13-year old girl. We saw African Americans purchase millions of his records despite the long history of such charges swirling around the singer. Worst of all, we have witnessed the sad vision of Black people cheering his acquittal with a fervor usually reserved for community heroes and shaken our heads at the stunning lack of outrage over the verdict in the broader Black community.

Over these years, justice has been delayed and it has been denied. Perhaps a jury can accept R. Kelly’s absurd defense and find “reasonable doubt” despite the fact that the film was shot in his home and featured a man who was identical to him. Perhaps they doubted that the young woman in the courtroom was, in fact, the same person featured in the ten year old video. But there is no doubt about this: some young Black woman was filmed being degraded and exploited by a much older Black man, some daughter of our community was left unprotected, and somewhere another Black woman is being molested, abused or raped and our callous handling of this case will make it that much more difficult for her to come forward and be believed. And each of us is responsible for it.

We have proudly seen the community take to the streets in defense of Black men who have been the victims of police violence or racist attacks, but that righteous outrage only highlights the silence surrounding this verdict.

We believe that our judgment has been clouded by celebrity-worship; we believe that we are a community in crisis and that our addiction to sexism has reached such an extreme that many of us cannot even recognize child molestation when we see it.

We recognize the absolute necessity for Black men to speak in a single, unified voice and state something that should be absolutely obvious: that the women of our community are full human beings, that we cannot and will not tolerate the poisonous hatred of women that has already damaged our families, relationships and culture.

We believe that our daughters are precious and they deserve our protection. We believe that Black men must take responsibility for our contributions to this terrible state of affairs and make an effort to change our lives and our communities.

This is about more than R. Kelly’s claims to innocence. *It is about our survival as a community*. Until we believe that our daughters, sisters, mothers, wives and friends are worthy of justice, until we believe that rape, domestic violence and the casual sexism that permeates our culture are absolutely unacceptable, until we recognize that the first priority of any community is the protection of its young, we will remain in this tragic dead-end.

We ask that you:

o Sign your name if you are a Black male who supports this statement:

o Forward this statement to your entire network and ask other Black males to sign as well

o Make a personal pledge to never support R. Kelly again in any form or fashion, unless he publicly apologizes for his behavior and gets help for his long-standing sexual conduct, in his private life and in his music

o Make a commitment in your own life to never to hit, beat, molest, rape, or exploit Black females in any way and, if you have, to take ownership for your behavior, seek emotional and spiritual help, and, over time, become a voice against all forms of Black female exploitation

o Challenge other Black males, no matter their age, class or educational background, or status in life, if they engage in behavior and language that is exploitative and or disrespectful to Black females in any way. If you say nothing, you become just as guilty.

o Learn to listen to the voices, concerns, needs, criticisms, and challenges of Black females, because they are our equals, and because in listening we will learn a new and different kind of Black manhood

We support the work of scholars, activists and organizations that are helping to redefine Black manhood in healthy ways. Additional resources are listed below.

Who’s Gonna Take the Weight, Kevin Powell
New Black Man, Mark Anthony Neal
Deals with the Devil and Other Reasons to Riot, Pearl Cleage
Traps: African American Men on Gender and Sexuality, Rudolph Byrd and Beverly Guy-Sheftall

I Am A Man: Black Masculinity in America, by Byron Hurt
Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, by Byron Hurt
NO! The Rape Documentary, by Aishah Simmons

The 2025 Campaign:
Men Stopping Violence:

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


See Nobody Loves a Black Girl for pretty straight up (and heart breaking)post on the R.Kelly verdict. Also Racialicious for some really stomach churning commentary. I'm not writing any more about it because really, why are we surprised? Seems like a pretty typical Rape trial to me.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Women! Protect yourselves!

"These [risk reduction] programs focus on how women can reduce their chances of being sexually assaulted. I agree that women benefit from these education programs, but let us not mistake this for prevention...If a woman has done everything in her power to reduce her risk, then a man who has the proclivity for abuse or need for power will just move on to another woman or target," -Jackson Katz

Monday, April 28, 2008

Monday discussion

Consider the statement:
"Consent is more attributed than exercised" taken from the study Sexual Boundaries: An Examination of the Importance of Talking Before Touching

Leave thoughts in comments!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Rape is like a slice of chocolate cake

"Rape is simply sex (I am talking about 'husband-rape' here)... Women enjoy sex, so rape cannot be such a terrible physical ordeal…To suggest that rape, when conducted without violence, is a serious crime is like suggesting force-feeding a woman chocolate cake is a heinous offence.”

What's perhaps more amazing is the fact that this is not from your run of the mill crazy ass cartoon villain, nope. It's from a public official. Obvi.

I do want to find a silver lining in the manner of the media report of Nick Eriksen's statement, skillfully critiqued by the Londonist

Eriksen's statement was made in a post on his blog which has since been taken down, but fortunately preserved for prosterity here: (copy and paste)

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Gift of Fear

By Gavin de Becker

I imagine this conversation after a stranger is told no by a woman he has approached:

Man: What a bitch. What's your problem, lady? I was just trying to offer a little help to a pretty woman. What are you so paranoid about?

Woman: You're right. I shouldn't be wary. I'm overreacting about nothing. I mean, just because a man makes an unsolicited and persistent approach in an underground parking lot in a society where crimes against women have risen four times faster than the general crime rate, and three out of four women will suffer a violent crime; and just because I've personally heard horror stories from every female friend I've ever had; and just because I have to consider where I park, where I walk, whome I talk to, and whom I date in the context of whether someone will kill me or rape me or scare me half to death; and just because several times a week someone makes an inappropriate remark, stares at me, harasses me, follows me or drives alonside my care pacing me; and just because I have to deal with the apartment manager who gives me the creeps for reasons I haven't figure out, yet I can tell by the way he looks at me that given an opportunity he'd do something that would get us both on the evening news; and just because these are life-and-death issues most men know nothing about so that I"m made to feel foolish for being cautious even though I live at the center of a swirl of possible hazards doesn't mean a woman should be wary of a stranger who ignores the word "no." [original emphasis]


At core, men are afraid women will laugh at them, while at core, women are afraid men will kill them.

Monday, March 31, 2008


I'm very scared I'm going to rape someone now
without knowing it


by doing something stupid
in a very wary "should I be doing this" sort of thing
which I suppose is good

i have to say that makes me feel really good about myself

yeah, I'm afraid you have made me a more aware male

I went through this weekend's events like 100 times to make sure it was okay

if you're ever worried, just ask

yeah, and I did
I asked when I wasn't sure

one down...:)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Women Rape themselves

Another article by Heather Mac Donald. In case you haven't the stomach to read the entirity, allow me to bullet point:

To prevent Rape, women should follow several simple steps:
*Don't drink
*Wear nothing other than baggy sweats
*Don't talk to men
*Don't kiss men
*Don't go anywhere alone
*Better yet, don't leave your house

The 10th graders I teach get it better than this woman. She makes me think twice about freedom of speech.

Let me be clear: being drunk does not make me vulnerable; being a woman does.

Heather Mac Donald
A Thought Experiment on Campus RapeFalse statistics, or evil administrators?2 March 2008
In the Winter issue of City Journal, I wrote an article contesting universities’ common claim that rape is an epidemic on campus. That claim rests in part on a famous statistic published by University of Arizona health professor Mary Koss in 1987—that fully a quarter of all college girls will be raped, or be the targets of attempted rape, by the time they graduate. Koss has written a response, which the website of the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault has just posted, defending the notion of ubiquitous campus rape.

Let me propose a thought experiment. An unapprehended rapist has assaulted two women in a particular area of State University’s campus—.04 percent of the female undergraduate population. Would the State University administrators tell girls to stay away from the area until the rapist is caught? Or would they remain silent about whether girls should continue to frequent that area of the campus, because “rape is never a woman’s fault”? The first, of course, because students’ safety is the administrators’ paramount concern, regardless of whether female students have a “right” to frequent that dangerous area at night.

Campus rape researchers and advocates, modifying Koss’s statistic slightly, say that they believe that a whopping one-fifth to one-quarter of college women are raped by their fellow students. Virtually all of these alleged rapes could be avoided if the girls took certain steps: don’t get into bed with a guy when you are very drunk, don’t take off your clothes, don’t get involved in oral sex, and so on. Such advice is fully consistent with female empowerment. It recognizes that girls have the power to stop “campus rape.” It treats them as moral agents able to control their fates.

But when I suggest to campus sexual assault administrators that they could stop what Koss calls the “rape pandemic” overnight if they persuaded girls to exercise more prudence, I inevitably receive responses like the following (these are my interlocutors’ actual words): “I am uncomfortable with the idea of ‘recommending that female students exercise more modesty and restraint’—this indicates that if they are raped it could be their fault—it is never their fault.” Or: “Yes, modesty would have a certain impact, but who’s responsible?”

There are two possible reasons why the administrators refuse to take the most efficacious, practical action to end campus rape—counseling sexual prudence. Either they know in their heart of hearts that what is happening on campuses is not really rape, but something much more ambiguous and also much less traumatic than real rape. Or—and this possibility is too horrible to contemplate—these self-professed women’s advocates really do believe that a drunken hookup is rape, and yet are withholding from women the simplest, surest way to prevent being raped, simply in order to preserve the principle of male fault. If the latter situation actually prevails, I conclude that the campus rape movement is purely political, interested solely in casting men as the evil perpetrators of the patriarchy rather than in most effectively protecting potential victims of a traumatic crime.

In her response, Koss says that “Men are supposed to know that [it is] wrong to have sex with a woman who is unable to consent due to intoxication.” Some men may know that; others may not. By all means, try to educate as many as you can. But the point is, if you want to protect women right now, the surest way of doing so is persuading them to avoid risky sexual encounters, rather than hoping that the drunken men with whom they have gotten into bed have a solid sense of ethics. What if a man knows that it is wrong to have sex with a very drunk woman but is himself too drunk to act on that knowledge—who’s going to protect the woman then? It is certainly ironic that feminists are relying on men to protect women when the women are perfectly able to determine whether a drunken night ends in intercourse. Moreover, if drunkenness cancels a woman’s responsibility for her actions, why does a drunken man who has sex that he may regret the next day nevertheless remain responsible? Are women less responsible for their actions than men?

Koss also claims that women who do not view “promiscuous sex” as rape suffer “equal emotional distress to women who view their experience as rape.” It is unclear whether the women she characterizes as “viewing their experience as rape” actually have been raped. Even assuming that they have, however, the 2000 Department of Justice study of campus rape found that those women whom the researchers characterized as rape victims “generally did not state that their victimization resulted in physical or emotional injuries.” The researchers did not reveal the actual numbers behind that “generally,” but presumably they were not insignificant. Moreover, 65 percent of those whom the researchers called “completed rape” victims and three-quarters of “attempted rape” victims said that they did not think that their experiences were “serious enough to report”—a judgment inconceivable from a real rape victim.

If it were the case that millions of rape victims graduated from college each year with serious emotional trauma, we’d have heard about it. Their parents would have demanded that colleges prevent this crime “pandemic.” Alternative academic institutions would have sprung up, guaranteeing a safe place for women to study and learn. None of this has happened, because the millions of women whom campus rape researchers designate as victims don’t suffer serious emotional trauma and don’t think of themselves as victims. You would have thought that that would be celebrated as a sign of strong womanhood.

Heather Mac Donald is a contributing editor of City Journal and the John M. Olin Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Her most recent book, coauthored with Victor Davis Hanson and Steven Malanga, is The Immigration Solution.

Monday, March 3, 2008

What Campus Rape Crisis?

As much as I hate to reproduce this it's as much an example of popular rape culture as I've ever seen. And an even stronger representation of the saturation in our culture because it comes from a woman.

It is amazing to me how one can have some facts, and completely miss the point, and in terms of "rape bureaucracy", I'm sure she makes much more money whoring the rape culture than I do fighting it.

From the Los Angeles Times
What campus rape crisis?

Promiscuity and hype have created a phony epidemic at colleges.
By Heather Mac Donald

February 24, 2008

It's a lonely job, working the phones at a college rape crisis center. Day after day, you wait for the casualties to show up from the alleged campus rape epidemic -- but no one calls. Could this mean that the crisis is overblown? No. It means, according to campus sexual-assault organizations, that the abuse of coeds is worse than anyone had ever imagined. It means that consultants and counselors need more funding to persuade student rape victims to break the silence of their suffering.

It is a central claim of these organizations that between a fifth and a quarter of all college women will be raped or will be the targets of attempted rape by the end of their college years. Harvard's Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response uses the 20% to 25% statistic. Websites at New York University, Syracuse University, Penn State and the University of Virginia, among many other places, use the figures as well.

And who will be the assailants of these women? Not terrifying strangers who will grab them in dark alleys, but the guys sitting next to them in class or at the cafeteria.

If the one-in-four statistic is correct, campus rape represents a crime wave of unprecedented proportions. No felony, much less one as serious as rape, has a victimization rate remotely approaching 20% or 25%, even over many years. The 2006 violent crime rate in Detroit, one of the most violent cities in the U.S., was 2,400 murders, rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults per 100,000 inhabitants -- a rate of 2.4%.

Such a crime wave -- in which millions of young women would graduate having suffered the most terrifying assault, short of murder, that a woman can experience -- would require nothing less than a state of emergency. Admissions policies, which if the numbers are true are allowing in tens of thousands of vicious criminals, would require a complete revision, perhaps banning male students entirely. The nation's nearly 10 million female undergraduates would need to take the most stringent safety precautions.

None of this crisis response occurs, of course -- because the crisis doesn't exist.

So where do the numbers come from? During the 1980s, feminist researchers committed to the rape-culture theory discovered that asking women directly if they had been raped yielded disappointing results -- very few women said that they had been. So Ms. magazine commissioned University of Arizona public health professor Mary Koss to develop a different way to measure the prevalence of rape.

Rather than asking female students about rape per se, Koss asked them if they had ever experienced actions that she then classified as rape. One question, for example, asked, "Have you had sexual intercourse when you didn't want to because a man gave you alcohol or drugs?" -- a question that is ambiguous on several fronts, including the woman's degree of incapacitation, the causal relation between being given a drink and having sexual intercourse, and the man's intentions. Koss' method produced the 25% rate, which Ms. then published.

It was a flawed study on a number of levels, but the most powerful refutation came from her own subjects: 73% of the women whom the study characterized as rape victims told the researchers that they hadn't been raped. Further, 42% of the study's supposed victims said they had had intercourse again with their alleged assailants -- though it is highly unlikely that a raped woman would have sex again with the fiend who attacked her.

Despite all this, the numbers have stuck. Today, John Foubert, an education professor at William and Mary College (and founder of a group called One-in-Four, which works on sexual assault issues and has chapters on 17 campuses), says, "The one-in-four statistic has been replicated in several studies for several decades. To the extent that social science can prove anything, which I believe it can, the one-in-four statistic has been proven beyond all reasonable doubt. My instincts tell me that the statistic is actually much higher."

Yet subsequent campus rape studies keep turning up the pesky divergence between the victims' and the researchers' point of view.

A 2006 survey of sorority women at the University of Virginia, for example, found that only 23% of the subjects whom the survey characterized as rape victims felt that they had been raped -- a result that the university's director of sexual and domestic violence services calls "discouraging." Equally damning was a 2000 campus rape study conducted under the aegis of the Department of Justice. Sixty-five percent of those whom the researchers called "completed rape" victims and three-quarters of "attempted rape" victims said that they did not think that their experiences were "serious enough to report."

Believing in the campus rape epidemic, it turns out, requires ignoring women's own interpretations of their experiences.

Nevertheless, none of the weaknesses in the research has had the slightest drag on the campus "anti-rape" movement, because the movement is political, not empirical. In a rape culture, which "condones physical and emotional terrorism against women as a norm," sexual assault will wind up underreported, argued Carole Goldberg, the director of Yale's Sexual Harassment and Assault Resources and Education Center, in a March 2007 newsletter. Campus rape centers and 24-hour hotlines, aided by tens of millions of dollars of federal funding, are ubiquitous.

Needless to say, those facilities don't appear to get a tremendous amount of use. For example, Hillary Wing-Richards, the associate director of sexual-assault prevention at James Madison University, said the school's campus rape "help line" gets a varying number of calls, some of which are "request-for-information calls" -- where to go, who to talk to and the like.

"Some months there are 10 and others, one or two," she said.

Referring to rape hotlines, risk management consultant Brett Sokolow laments: "The problem is, on so many of our campuses, very few people ever call. And mostly we've resigned ourselves to the underutilization of these resources."

Federal law requires colleges to publish reported crimes affecting their students. The numbers of reported sexual assaults -- the law does not require their confirmation -- usually run under half a dozen a year on private campuses, and maybe two to three times that at large public universities.

So what reality does lie behind the rape hype? I believe that it's the booze-fueled hookup culture of one-night, or sometimes just partial-night, stands. Students in the '60s demanded that college administrators stop setting rules for fraternization. The colleges meekly complied and opened a Pandora's box of boorish, promiscuous behavior that gets cruder each year.

This culture has been written about widely. College women -- as well as men -- reportedly drink heavily before and during parties. For the women, that drinking is often goal-oriented, suggests Karin Agness, a recent University of Virginia graduate and founder of NeW, a club for conservative university women: It frees the drinker from responsibility and "provides an excuse for engaging in behavior that she ordinarily wouldn't." Nights can include a meaningless sexual encounter with a guy whom the girl may not even know.

In all these drunken couplings, there may be some deplorable instances of forced and truly non-consensual sex. But most campus "rape" cases exist in the gray area of seeming cooperation and tacit consent, which is why they are almost never prosecuted criminally.

"Ninety-nine percent of all college rape cases would be thrown out of court in a twinkling," observes University of Pennsylvania history professor Alan Kors.

Many students hold on to the view that women usually have the power to determine whether a campus social event ends with intercourse. A female Rutgers student expressed a common sentiment in a university sexual-assault survey: "When we go out to parties and I see girls and the way they dress and the way they act ... and just the way they are, under the influence and um, then they like accuse them of like, 'Oh yeah, my boyfriend did this to me' or whatever, I honestly always think it's their fault."

But suggest to a rape bureaucrat that female students share responsibility for the outcome of an evening and that greater sexual restraint would prevent campus "rape," and you might as well be saying that women should don the burka.

College officials have responded to the fallout of the college sexual revolution not with sound advice but with bizarre and anachronistic legalisms for responding to postcoital second thoughts.

University of Virginia students, for example, may demand a formal adjudication before the Sexual Assault Board; they can request a "structured meeting" with the Office of the Dean of Students by filing a formal complaint; or they can seek voluntary mediation.

Risk-management consultants travel the country to help colleges craft legal rules for student sexual congress.

"If one partner puts a condom on the other, does that signify that they are consenting to intercourse?" asks Alan D. Berkowitz, a campus rape consultant. Short of guiding the thus-sheathed instrumentality to port, it's hard to imagine a clearer signal of consent, although Berkowitz apparently finds it "inherently ambiguous."

And even as the campus rape industry decries alleged male predation, a parallel campus sex bureaucracy sends the message that students should have recreational sex at every opportunity.

New York University offers workshops on orgasms and "Sex Toys for Safer Sex" ("an evening with rubber, silicone and vibrating toys") in residence halls and various student clubs. Brown University's Student Services helps students answer the compelling question: "How can I bring sex toys into my relationship?" Princeton University's "Safer Sex Jeopardy" game for freshmen lists six types of vibrators and eight kinds of penile toys.

Why, exactly, are schools offering workshops on orgasms? Are students already so saturated with knowledge of the evolution of constitutional democracy, say, that colleges should reroute their resources to matters available on porn websites?

Remarkably, many students emerge from this farrago of mixed messages with common sense intact.

In a November column in the University of Virginia's student newspaper, a third-year student gave the real scoop on frat parties: They're filled with men hoping to have sex. Rather than calling these men "rapists," columnist Katelyn Kiley offered some practical wisdom to the women trooping off to Virginia's fraternity row:

"It's probably a good idea to keep your clothes on, and at the end of the night, to go home to your own bed. Interestingly enough, that's how you get [the guys] to keep asking you back."

Maybe such young iconoclasts can take up another discredited idea: College is for learning. Fighting male dominance or catering to the libidinal impulses released in the 1960s are sorry substitutes for the pursuit of knowledge.

Heather Mac Donald is a contributing editor of City Journal, from which this is adapted.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

More on Male Priviledge

Men Against Violence yahoo group
Posted by: "karen henninger"
Wed Feb 20, 2008 5:25 am (PST)

You expect Men to be rational and to respond to facts -research- with rationality, logic, fairness, and honesty. Think again. Many Men instead respond with their need to retain their comfortability and social position and while rationality plays a large part in their responses, there is a root of irrationality going on. Without confronting the REALITY of what is really going on, you can just get lost in wasted, useless, conversation where one is not really interested in communication but instead, interested in maintaining their power, and reacting with fear and control. Conversation itself becomes the tool-weapon for power and control, rather than the penis.

Monday, February 18, 2008

NY TImes

Limbo for U.S. Women Reporting Iraq Assaults
Women who say they were sexually assaulted in Iraq by co-workers have found themselves unable to seek justice.

"Let's don't go forward"

From: Terri Spahr Nelson
Sent: Thursday, February 14, 2008 2:05 PM
Subject: State senator comments on rape

Put this one in the catagory of 'we've still got miles to go in our
education efforts on sexual assault...'

The following comes from the website/blog "Think Progress" at

Tennessee state senator: rape just isn't what it used to be.
Last week, after a debate on amending the Tennessee constitution to
say that it doesn't guarantee the right to abortion, state Sen. Doug
Henry (D) stood up and reflected on how rape has changed:

"Rape, ladies and gentlemen, is not today what rape was. Rape, when I
was learning these things, was the violation of a chaste woman,
against her will, by some party not her spouse. Today it's
simply, "Let's don't go forward with this act."

Go to the link (above) to view the video of his comments in the
legislature or send an e-mail to him at: ( to let him know how wrong
he is about rape and how insensitive he was to all rape victims with
this comment.

Let's keep on doing what we're doing everyday on behalf of rape
victims because we still have a way to go.

Terri Spahr Nelson
New resources for sexual assault victims, military victims and victims of violent crime
I want women not to say 'no' but to flat out say, 'if you have sex with me right now you will be a rapist.'

-Dartmouth Survivor Stories

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Commander in Chief

January 15, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist
Politics and Misogyny

With Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s win in New Hampshire, gender issues are suddenly in the news. Where has everybody been?

If there was ever a story that deserved more coverage by the news media, it’s the dark persistence of misogyny in America. Sexism in its myriad destructive forms permeates nearly every aspect of American life. For many men, it’s the true national pastime, much bigger than baseball or football.

Little attention is being paid to the toll that misogyny takes on society in general, and women and girls in particular.

Its forms are limitless. Hard-core pornography is a multibillion-dollar business, having spread far beyond the stereotyped raincoat crowd to anyone with a laptop and a password. Crowds of crazed photographers risk life and limb to get shots of Paris Hilton or Britney Spears without their underwear. At New York Jets home games, men regularly gather at Gate D to urge female fans to expose themselves.

In its grimmest aspects, misogyny manifests itself in hideous violence — from brutal beatings and rape to outright torture and murder. Fifteen months ago, a gunman invaded an Amish schoolhouse in rural Pennsylvania, separated the girls from the boys, and then shot 10 of the girls, killing five.

The cable news channels revel in stories about women (almost always young and attractive) who come to a gruesome end at the hands of violent men. The stories seldom, if ever, raise the issue of misogyny, which permeates not just the crimes themselves, but the coverage as well.

The latest of these obsessively covered stories concerned a pregnant marine, Maria Frances Lauterbach, who had complained to authorities that she had been raped by a fellow marine. Her body was found last week buried in a backyard fire pit in North Carolina.

It just so happens that the Democratic presidential candidates are campaigning this week in the misogyny capital of America: Nevada. It’s a perfect place to bring up the way women are viewed and treated in this society, but don’t hold your breath. Presidential wannabes are hardly in the habit of insulting the locals.

Prostitution is legal in much of Nevada and heavily promoted even where it’s not. In Las Vegas, where prostitution is illegal but flourishes nevertheless, Mayor Oscar Goodman has said that creating a series of legal, “magnificent” brothels would be a great development tool for his city.

The fundamental problem in all of this is that women and girls are dehumanized, opening the floodgates to every kind of mistreatment. “Once you dehumanize somebody, everything else is possible,” said Taina Bien-Aimé, executive director of the women’s advocacy group Equality Now.

A grotesque exercise in the dehumanization of women is carried out routinely at Sheri’s Ranch, a legal brothel about an hour’s ride outside of Vegas. There the women have to respond like Pavlov’s dog to an electronic bell that might ring at any hour of the day or night. At the sound of the bell, the prostitutes have five minutes to get to an assembly area where they line up, virtually naked, and submit to a humiliating inspection by any prospective customer who has happened to drop by.

If you don’t think this is an issue worthy of a presidential campaign, consider the scandalous way that women are treated in the military and the fact that the winner of this election will become the commander in chief.

The sexual mistreatment of women in the military is widespread. The Defense Department financed a study in 2003 of female veterans seeking health assistance from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Nearly a third of those surveyed said they had been the victim of a rape or attempted rape during their service.

The Associated Press reported in 2006 that more than 80 military recruiters had been disciplined over the course of a year because of sexual misconduct with young women and girls who had considered joining the military.

There continue to be widespread complaints from women about rape and other forms of sexual attacks in the military, and about a culture that tends to protect the attackers.

To what extent are the candidates of either party concerned about these matters? Do they have any sense of how extensive and debilitating the mistreatment of women and girls really is?

We’ve become so used to the disrespectful, degrading, contemptuous and even violent treatment of women that we hardly notice it. Staggering amounts of violence are unleashed against women and girls every day. Fashionable ads in mainstream publications play off of that violence, exploiting themes of death and dismemberment, female submissiveness and child pornography.

If we’ve opened the door to the issue of sexism in the presidential campaign, then let’s have at it. It’s a big and important issue that deserves much more than lip service.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Pornography is...

"What the end of the world looks like."

My new policy is to have every boyfriend read Robert Jensen's Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity if/when the topic of porn comes up. (I also highly recommend to anyone beyond the boyfriend population)