Monday, December 14, 2009

PostSecret






-----Email Message-----
My boyfriend makes me use a wheelchair. He says it's the only way he's attracted to me. I wish I could fly away.

Dating Violence.

Sexual Violence.
Sexual Violence.







I wish we didn't live in a culture that shames victims and makes them feel like what happens to them has to be their secret.

I post images regarding dating or sexual violence from postsecret.com in an attempt to center their context on the messages of violence, rather than of secrets. I think it's important to recognize how often experiences of violence are regarded as secret, as shameful. I think it's important to recognize that they are violence. 

Monday, December 7, 2009

Probably not.



It's rape when our culture drives us to base our worth in our body image validated by the opinion of a self-congratulating misogynist. Especially when his shtick only works by specifically undermining women's self esteem to gain power and control, hoping we'll "prove" ourselves by seeking his validating in the form of whether or not he'll fuck us.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Not "prevention-prevention"


Victim blaming, perpetuating rape myths, and camouflaging offender accountability are not tactics of prevention. They are rape culture.







 

Gender Across Boarders has a great response up (and actually found the flier out on campus) which you should read, here I have a few things to add.

"Don't get so drunk you don't know what you're doing" GAB identifies this as good general advice, but victim blaming in this context. I'll go a step further. Generally, people probably don't intend to get so drunk that they don't know what they're doing. Particularly on college campuses, students may not have much experience with drinking, and may not be quite in tune with their limits. If the goal is, in fact, to be oblivious, then perhaps we need to identify these people not as inviting rape, but in desperate need of support. Why are they using drinking as a coping mechanism? And to be really clear, drinking - regardless of amounts - does not invite rape. Targeting (mostly women) intoxication is rape.

"Don't accept a drink from someone you've just met...only leave your drink with someone you trust." denies both the original assertion of the card which is that alcohol is the #1 drug used to facilitate rape (so one doesn't need to slip anything in, just have you drink), and the fact that most sexual assaults are perpetrated by an acquaintance means that the someone you trust may be the someone trying to take advantage.

Rape happens on purpose, not as an unfortunate side effect of drinking. These lessons on the cards reinforce the message to victims that if they were drinking they are at fault for "inviting" or "being vulnerable" to rape.

We are vulnerable not because we are drunk, but because we are women in a society which allows and makes excuses rapists. Also, following these "SMART" tactics (which insinuate you're not if you're unable or ignored) don't prevent rape. Not raping people prevents rape. Holding rapists accountable prevents rape. Viewing and valuing women as more than sex objects prevents rape.There are all sorts of better lists out there for easy ways to prevent rape (like not raping someone), including one I came up with, which you can see here . (Update: Rebecca Whisnant *!! swoon* was kind enough to send along this list of helpful rape prevention tips.) (Update II: Twisty picked up on this and edited the helpful rape prevention tips and makes me chuckle!)

Victim blaming - especially in "prevention" messaging - helps rapists and hurts victims. 

Friday, November 13, 2009

WRONG

Taking your son to Hooters as a way to "gauge sexual interest" and avoid actually having to talk to your son about sexuality = massive parenting fail. Objectifying women is NOT the same as developing healthy sexuality.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Clarification

By the way, statements along the lines of "I'm not blaming the victim but..." or "I know she's had a hard life but..." or "I know she's young but..." or "I know it's not her fault but..." are a feminist party-foul. We will revoke your card. You will be just another Rape-apologist.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A not-so-rare-story

3 men go to jail for repeatedly raping a child family member.

Lets think of some things wrong with this story.

1. a woman was sexually assaulted
2. by her family members
3 her mother didn't believe her
4. in the coverate, the mother not believing her seems like the real travesty (not the multiple sexual assaults...)
5. Judge hands out jail sentences saying that the men treated victim like an "unpaid, unwilling prostitute".
...hold the phone a minute...ponder that...Rape and prostitution. If prostitution is unpaid its like Rape? If prostitution is unwilling its like Rape? Or just prostitution is like Rape? People who have been Raped are like prostitutes? Prostitutes deserve to be/are asking to be Raped? Thinking that you have the right to use women for sex? Thinking you have the right to use children for sex? The ideas that uphold the consumption of prostitution, that allow for the consumption of pornography - these are the same that allow for Rape. Is that what the judge meant?

6...
What are the wrongs pulsing through your veins about this story?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Reality based sexual violence prevention

What We Can Learn From the Dugard Case from Human Rights Watch
We have to consider the possibility that our policies on sexual violence do not protect us, have not increased the number of offenders brought to justice and waste precious resources in the fight against rape and sexual assault.

Focusing so many resources on registration and community notification ignores the reality of sexual violence in the United States.


Being in this work it's still sometimes baffling to me the discrepancy between what we in the movement know to be effective and what the society at large dedicates resources to.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

PostSecret



bewyrd on September 27, 2009
on #2...i never said no...i may have said yes...but with all my heart i meant no. it still isn't your fault. just maybe it isn't his either...but it doesn't change the effects. i've learned that.

sumth1ngcrazy on September 26, 2009
I said no once, and was ignored. Then I said yes when I shouldn't have and I live with that every day. I'm not sure which hurts worse.

1. Happy to see supportive (rather than blaming) comments, sorry that each had a similar experience which made them able to be supportive.
2. So positive that we as a culture have no idea what "consent" is. Consent is sexual violence prevention, and is so much more than "yes" or "no".

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mackenzie Phillips

Of that night, Phillips writes in her book, "I woke up from a blackout to find myself having sex with my own father."
nj.com

Waking up to being penetrated is Rape.
Your father penetrating you is Rape.

It's ok for her to interpret her experience for herself in the language that makes her comfortable. It's ok for her to have navigated that experience in ways that made sense to her, but it's important for us, everyone, and especially the media, to know that it's not consensual sex, this is Rape.

For a more indepth analysis see Rape Apologism and the Response to Mackenzie Phillips.

Drunk, painful, unwanted; Rape.

It’s three in the morning. You have it inside you right now. It kind of hurts. You’ve had one too many cups of jungle juice. You think his name is Andrew, but you’re not really sure. You thought you would never be that girl, but there you are, in your drunken haze.

You wake up the day after to an unfamiliar ceiling, some guy who smells like booze, AXE body spray and, well, something else. He wants to cuddle and you’re starting to think maybe this drunken hook-up [ ________ ].

Reader: How did the AU Eagle complete that sentence?

a. You’re starting to think maybe this drunken hook-up was rape.

b. You’re starting to think maybe this drunken hook-up was a product of society’s shaming of female sexuality, which encourages women to resort to dangerous, heavily intoxicated, and painful sex with strangers instead of openly pursuing empowered, respectful, and satisfying sexual experiences with desired sexual partners.

c. You’re starting to think maybe this drunken hook-up could turn into something.


Amanda Hess has the write up at The Sexist on how this is, if nothing else, bad sex advice. She also points out that there's still a lot of confusion over whether or not it's Rape. Let's be clear:

If you wake up and someone's in the process of penetrating you - that's Rape.
If you weren't there for all the stuff that led up to that moment (ie were not actively, enthusiastically, lucidly engaged), then it was unwanted. Wanted means pursued - which means there was some activity happening. Unwanted = Rape.
If "huh?" is the first thing that crosses your mind, that's not a drunken hook-up, that's Rape.


“How the hell is that rape?” wrote one. “I hear of this kind of stuff happening all the time.”

Yea, it's Rape. And it happens all the time.
That it happens is not nullifying.

Sure, I can imagine a world where kids (or adults) drink a lot and then have sex (sex, not rape). But pretending that we don't know the line between drunk-sex and Rape is just that - pretending. We know the difference when a person wants to be doing something, and when we're exploiting a vulnerable situation. Calling it "gray" or drunken, or regrettable, or normal - is a lie, and only shows your willingness to cover for rapists.

And for the apologists - or, unapologists as it were - at the Eagle: Using the "seriousness" of Rape and sexual assault to silence protests over bad media, only makes your media worse. Don't pretend to be defending women and victims by co-opting the very event you're minimizing.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Rape: Big Brother Style

Holding 9 women captive under the pretense of being on reality TV, selling naked pictures and videos of them online without their knowledge, definitely Rape.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

To clarify:

When someone "cuddly" has "surprise sex" w/ women, it's rape. http://ow.ly/nQ0v

I only play a feminist on TV

These days anybody who is allowed on TV and publicly claims to be a feminist isn’t one. She’s straight, conventionally attractive, takes pole dancing lessons, and espouses the belief that femininity empowerfulizes her. If any “feminist” should accidentally let it out that being sexually manipulative has not a high moral purpose, or that patriarchy even exists, let the ridicule fly.


Twisty discourages straight quoting, but I can't seem to help myself. Her prose and point are perfectly stunning...I hope if we met she'd forgive me.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Priorities

Texas just sentenced an 18 year old mentally handicapped boy to 100 years in jail for groping a 6 year old.

There's a woman that speaks to volunteers where I work about her experience of sexual assault. In short: She was out for a walk mid day on a VT dirt road by the river with her two infants. A man with a weapon forced her and her children into his car, and raped her in front of them, and threatened to find and kill all of them if she told. She went directly to the hospital for evidence collection, called the police to report, went to the state's attorney to press charges - and he rolled his eyes and asked how much time he would have to serve to satisfy her. Only after allowing her name to be published in the newspaper to garner media outrage at the court process did the (elected) public servant state's attorney do anything about the case, threatening that her (2 year old) would be put up on the stand to testify, would be cross examined, that the perpetrator would only get 2 years maximum....

Her rapist went to jail for 10 years. For aggravated sexual assault with a deadly weapon and kidnapping a woman and her 2 kids.

Most rapists never go to trial, let alone jail.

But a teenage mentally handicap boy will be in among those that do for 100 years. Somehow I don't feel like justice was served.

How to end Violence Against Women

Ukraine has banned possession of pornography (except for medical purposes???)And I have lots of gut reactions.

*Porn is Violence Against Women. Don't bother arguing in comments - peruse some of the sites or readings that I've posted, ask to participate in a slide show that I present, and then we can have a discussion.
*Lots of feminists are decrying this - that's confusing to me.
*I appreciate governing bodies taking Violence Against Women seriously, but I wonder if that's the actual catalyst for the legislation, or are we on a moral crusade that has more to do with fear of nudity (and women) than it does with violent oppression.
*I have a hard time believing that legislation is the way to go - particularly legislation against individuals instead of against the industry, which is really the problem. Individuals that use porn, while perpetuating the system, are really hurt too by the industry that's exploiting them.
*On the other hand I can't get too fired up that consumers of violence against women will have a harder time obtaining (as Twisty would call it) their pay-per-rape.
*Medical purposes?! I'll buy masturbation/sex as pain relief (maybe) but I'm not taking porn as a medical cure. It's the illness.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Quoted

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 fearedand 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, 1971

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Anti-porn Web Resources

Stop Porn Culture


Against Pornography


One Angry Girl

Genderberg

Andrea Dworkin website

Mediawatch

Off Our Backs

Rain and Thunder

Teen Voices

Byron Hurt

Hustling the Left

Robert Jensen

Stan Goff

Jackson Katz

Gail Dines

Biting Beaver

Prostitution Research and Education

Media Education Foundation

Also find Byron Hurt, Robert Jensen, Katha Pollit and Rebecca Whisnant on Facebook and friend them! (I just did!)

Summer Reading List!

E. Buchwald, P. Fletcher, and M. Roth. Transforming a Rape Culture. (1993, Milkweed Editions). An anthology of ideas from feminist and anti-violence activists.

Jane Caputi, Goddesses and Monsters: Women, Myth, Power, and Popular Culture, (2004, Popular Press). Essays take on the patriarchal myth, where serial killers are heroes, where goddesses are ritually slaughtered, and where pornography is the core story underlying militarism, environmental devastation, and racism.

Gail Dines, Robert Jensen, and Ann Russo. Pornography: The Production and Consumption of Inequality (1997, Routledge). Essential reading for everyone interested in how our society commodifies sex.

Andrea Dworkin, Pornography: Men Possessing Women (1979, Putnam), Letters From a War Zone (1993, Lawrence Hill Books) and Life and Death (1997, Little Brown). Works from the foremost feminist theorist of our time.

Christine Stark and Rebecca Whisnant, Not For Sale: Feminists Resisting Prostitution and Pornography. (2004, Spinifex Press). An anthology of activists and survivors.

Melissa Farley, Ph.D., Prostitution and Trafficking in Nevada: Making the Connections (2007).
“No one really enjoys getting sold,” a woman in a legal Nevada brothel told Melissa Farley during the course of this research. “It's like you sign a contract to be raped.” In a 2-year research study of Nevada legal and illegal prostitution and sex trafficking, Farley reveals new information about the scope of the sex industry. She describes human rights violations against women in the Nevada legal brothels and how the multibillion-dollar illegal sex industry in Las Vegas works. She makes connections between legal and illegal prostitution, prostitution and sex trafficking, advertising for prostitution, political corruption, pornography, and organized crime. Farley explains how, although they are out of sight, the johns are ultimately the origin of the problem of sex trafficking – the men who demand the right to rent human beings in prostitution.


P. Hill Collins, Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism (2005, Routledge). Explores the social and personal implications of historical images (black men as rapists deserving of lynching and black women so immoral it was impossible to rape them) and more current concerns about the influence of prison culture on urban youth culture that glorifies connections between sex and violence.

Sheila Jeffreys, Beauty and Misogyny (2005, Psychology Press), Unpacking Queer Politics (2003, Polity Press), The Lesbian Heresy (1993, Spinifex Press). A lesbian-feminist analysis of pornography, “queer” culture, and misogyny.

*Robert Jensen, Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity (2007, South End Press). A powerful critique of pornography and masculinity sparked by a vision of genuine social justice.

*Jackson Katz, The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help (2006, Source Books).
Arguing for a "far-reaching cultural revolution," Katz explores those aspects of American culture that promote violence against women. Offers ideas on how men can ally with women to change male aggressiveness and masculinity that lead to violence and abuse.


*Ariel Levy, Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture (2005, Free Press). Describes the pervasive raunch culture where and our icons are porn stars, strippers and prostitutes, and women make sex objects of other women and ourselves,. The keywords of the women's movement (liberation, empowerment) have been converted into buzzwords for a female sexuality built on consumerism and objectification.

Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin, In Harm’s Way: The Pornography Civil Rights Hearings (1998, Harvard University Press) Public testimony from survivors of pornography.

Pornography and Civil Rights: A New Day for Women’s Equality (1988, Organizing Against Pornography). Out of print, but describes an important legal strategy that could empower victims through civil (not criminal) law.

Catharine MacKinnon, Women’s Lives, Men’s Laws (2007, Belknap Press), Are Women Human? (2006, Belknap Press). MacKinnon is an eloquent feminist lawyer and legal theorist.

M. A. Neal, New Black Man (2005, Routledge). Puts forth a revolutionary model of black masculinity for the twenty-first century, one that moves beyond patriarchy to embrace feminism and combat homophobia.

Neil Malamuth, Pornography and Sexual Aggression. (1984, Academic Press). One of the foremost researchers on the effects of pornography.

Pamela Paul, Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families. (2005, Times Books). Details how the ubiquity of pornography impacts our personal lives.

Dr. Diana Russell, Against Pornography: The Evidence of Harm (1993, Russell Publications). A feminist sociologist lays out the research on pornography.

Linda Lovelace, Ordeal. (1981, Berkeley Books). The survivor of the film Deep Throat tells her harrowing story.

Captive Daughters Media , Pornography: Driving the Demand in International Sex Trafficking available at http://www.captivedaughters.org/book.html

Who says beach reading has to be frivolous?

*indicates one's I've read.

RealityTV: Child Sexual Abuse

I don't get cable so I haven't watched Charm School, but Jezebel reports that on an episode of some reality TV show based on making fun of women for their crazy antics, one woman discloses Child Sexual Assault. Amazingly, LOTS of the other women end up sharing similar experiences. So women and children are systematically brutalized and used, develop coping mechanisms that society uses to mock them and we call it entertainment. Unfortunately, realizing the prevalence of Sexual Assault in a group of women may be the more reality than most shows of the genre.

Via Jezebel: Charm School-ers Bond Over Shared Experiences of Sexual Assault

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Quoted: MeMe Roth

File this under "NO"

From the Guardian an interview with an "anti-fat advocate" who is not interested in questioning and challenging the myriad of ways in which capitalism, trauma, poverty, mis-education, media, 9-5 desk jobs, etc interact to influence obesity. She wants to shame Jennifer Love Hewitt into doing more lunges.

"The defence [sic] has been made in the case of sex criminals that there is pleasure on the part of the victim. The same is true with what we're doing with food. We may abuse our bodies with food, but it's incredibly pleasurable. From a food marketer's point of view, when your quote unquote victim is so willing and enjoying of the process, who's fighting back?"


1. "self" abuse is not the same as someone forcibly invading your personal and bodily space.
2. blaming the victim doesn't help in speaking of food industries and it certainly doesn't help victims of sexual assault
3. comparing the two in such terms minimizes both issues
4. comparing the two in such terms completely bans any nuanced conversation about issues that critically affect real people's real lives
5. shaming and scare tactics are not helpful. ever.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Beyond GHB

Man charged for cow abortion drug in girl's drink
The Associated Press

A Pennsylvania man is in jail on charges he tried to kill the fetus of a 17-year-old girl by helping two teenage boys put an abortion-inducing cow hormone into her drink.

Forty-six-year-old Jonathan Imler, of Williamsburg, was charged and jailed in Blair County on Tuesday.

Police say the girl's 16-year-old boyfriend, who is the father of the child, another 17-year-old boy and Imler stole the hormone ProstaMate from a farm. The 17-year-old allegedly put a drop of it in the girl's Gatorade in March 2008.

The girl's mother has said a friend told her daughter about the drink's contents later that day.

Police say they plan to charge the boys.

The girl has since given birth. Her mother says the hormone apparently didn't harm the baby.

Information from: Altoona Mirror

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I Blame the Rapists

Blame Rapists for Rape, Not Women
Jaclyn Friedman

Last Tuesday, in the debut of Double X, Linda Hirshman said that the bloggers at Jezebel need to accept that they may be raped if they’re going to insist on being such public sluts (I'm paraphrasing here, but not as much as I wish I were). Latoya Peterson responded by rightly pointing out that screeds like Hirshman's give feminism a bad name. The internets erupted. And now, just what we needed, the Observer has swooped in to Explain It All To Us, clucking their editorial tongue about the whole "infighting" mess.

Missing from this entire kerfuffle is one crucial point. Women aren't raped because they're being sexual in public or private, and they're not raped because they're drunk. Women are raped because they're women.

Statistics vary, but we know that the vast majority of rapists aren't the men we randomly meet in bars one night—they're the ones we already know. The idea that women are more likely to be raped while they're being "bad" is a nasty myth created to keep women in our places. Rape has never been an act of sexual incontinence committed because we’re just too darn available and tempting, and being “smart” or “good” isn’t going to keep us safe.

Sure, men rape women in drunken party atmospheres. They also rape women on quiet nights in, but we get no warnings about the dangers of playing Trivial Pursuit in mixed company. Yes, rape risk increases when alcohol is involved, but if someone is drunk during a rape, it's more likely to have been the attacker than the victim. And yet where is the public service message warning men against the dangers of drinking and raping?

I'm not a big Jezebel defender on this subject, precisely because of the type of posts that Hirshman and the Observer point out. They excuse rapists' behavior and perpetuate the myth that if a woman was drinking or being sexual, she is in some way responsible for another person assaulting her. But Hirshman's complaints about Jezebel fall into the exact same—very dangerous—trap. If it's possible for women who are raped to deserve it as a "consequence of their own acts," as Hirshman says, then you can hardly blame the rapist for that act, now, can you?

This controversy isn't about "choice feminism"—dressing in skimpy clothing, drinking, and having casual sex aren't inherently feminist choices any more than wearing billowy skirts and Birkenstocks, drinking herbal tea, and being celibate are. But our approach to rape prevention is a feminist choice. We need to face the fact that focusing on the consequences of women’s actions instead of on the actions of rapists has done precious little to reduce the incidence of rape.

You know what else is a feminist choice? Refusing to do the work of the patriarchy. So if refusing to police my own sexuality and blaming rapists for rape in all circumstances makes me a slut, then I wear the name proudly.

Monday, May 18, 2009

To the dogs

Clarification: having hidden cameras targeting women and taking pictures of their cleavage is not clever, it's sexual harassment. Also I find the idea of using pets/babies/etc to "lure" women equally creepy.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Just Say No

Youth [abstinence] counselor accused of sex assault

Trumbull (AP) - Connecticut police have arrested a youth adviser accused of sexually assaulting a Trumbull girl being counseled to abstain from sex.

Vernitt Hoheb, 31, of Stratford surrendered Monday. He had been a youth counselor at Mount Aery Baptist Church in Bridgeport until the allegations were made against him.

Trumbull police say Hoheb supervised a youth group at the church. The 16-year-old girl claims Hoheb sexually assaulted her in his car in the parking lot of a Trumbull gym where he had stopped while driving her home in March.

Hoheb allegedly said he had been counseling teenage girls, including the victim, on how to say "no" to sexual advances from adults.


In light of recent conversation - mostly stemming from Jessica Valenti's The Purity Myth release - this seems an especially highlighting example of how ideas of purity/virginity/abstinence still focus on girls as solely sexual objects, not as empowered, agent human beings.

Thomas has a brief analysis, I most appreciate his closing "As long as women have no voice in how their bodies are sexual, he’s happy."

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Rape Prevention/Victim Blaming

"When you tell me that I shouldn't drink too much alcohol because that increases my risk of being sexually assaulted, I hear that I was responsible for being raped because I was drunk.

When you tell me to take self-defense classes, or to yell and fight back if I am being attacked, I hear that my natural defense reaction to freeze was wrong.

When you tell me to walk confidently, I hear that my body posture made my offender want to sexually assault me.

When you offer me "tips" for my own safety, I hear that it was my behaviour in question, and not my offender's."

- Monika Penner

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Rape discounted for global recession

German brothels are offering all manner of discounts to encourage more buying of women. Related: women aren't making enough money to live and are increasingly turning to sex work to make ends meet.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Think Global Act Local

We walk around with a disconnect like our lives have nothing to do with those suffering systematic Rape and mutilation as weapons of war. We walk around like we have no responsibility to those living less fortunate. Examples like these of how our daily, mindless consumption has worldwide effects are staggering. I think they are also the most useful.

In a capitalist nation our biggest power is our buying and spending power. Companies do not operate out of compassion but out of a bottom line and our duty as citizens of the world is to make their bottom line answer to our compassion. Instead of buying a new phone every two years, keep your old one til it dies - or buy a used one on ebay to keep the demand for the metals (mined by warring terrorist groups in the Congo and sold for weaponry to fuel their fight) down. Better yet, write your phone manufacturer, tell them of your plan, and vow to continue until they institute a policy to trace the materials they use. Encourage 10 of your friends to do the same. Donate the money you would have spent on a new phone to an organization working to end sexual violence.

Instead of an ostentatious diamond ring invest the money into an engagement canoe, or a down payment for a house, or donate the money to an organization working to end domestic violence. OR make sure your diamonds are registered and traced as non-conflict (most of these would come from Canada). DO NOT buy from DeBeers.

Make sure the gold in your wedding band was mined under environmentally sound sanctions (probably out of Utah).

You have spending power - use it wisely! Make it matter!

Sexual Assault Awareness

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month!

Any readers in the Upper Valley be sure to check out the WISE display at DHMC, and come to our Film Series!

Friday Nights in April
Women's Health Resource Center
On the Mall in Lebanon NH
6 pm - candy, popcorn and cider provided!
Dialogue to follow...

Bring a friend! Bring a date! Bring your family! It's a hard topic but it's important, and it's a great time to connect with your community and realize all the ways in which we all contribute to putting an end to violence!

Rape is always bad

Jezebel comments on an NPR segment discussing prison rape. I really appreciate the point that Rape is never ok, deserved, or brought upon oneself. Minimizing Rape against some minimizes the act in general and decreases our empathy for victims. Prison rape always gets "joked" about in my high school classes as we talk about male victims, and I am careful to make the point that far from funny, prison Rape is a most solid example of a hierarchy of power that uses Rape as a tactic of domination.

If a woman walks down the street in a short skirt, and every one chooses to let her pass - there is no sexual assault.

If a woman chooses to drink to the point of blackout, and no one chooses to sexually assault her, she won't experience Rape.

If a person goes to prison to "pay" for a crime, and no one chooses to violate them, they will serve their sentence without Rape.

No one deserves or asks to be Raped, and only by stopping perpetration can we stop assault. Prevention has to come from people choosing not to violate others.

Post Secret Sexual Assault





These have two vastly different tones but both are sexual assault, and one is not funnier than the other. It's interesting to me that these were both within the same week because I find them to be a perfect example of the spectrum that our culture "supports" - and believe that supporting or laughing at one contributes to endorsing the other.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sexual Violence in PostSecret

This weeks installment of "secret" sexual assault.


Working out our own trauma and supporting someone though theirs might be impossible to separate, but when does the influence become inhibiting and end up hurting?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sexual Violence in PostSecrets

As a weekly reader of PostSecret, I regularly find examples of sexual violence that people have been holding as their deepest secrets. Many don't or haven't come to the conclusion that what happened was violence at all and are still living with shame and embarrassment and I ache for them because this is the world we live in, and while I like PostSecret, it pains me that a the receiving end of a post card is the only place some people feel safe to disclose. This week had 3 - 2 from victims and 1 from a perpetrator.


Friday, February 20, 2009

The Problem with Consent

A solution by Twisty Faster at I Blame the Patriarchy.

Although this condition does not obtain with regard to any other crime you can think of, when it comes to rape, women are currently considered to exist in a state of perpetual “yes!”. This is because “yes!” is consistent with global accords governing fair use of women. Victims of robbery or attempted murder don’t have to prove that they said no to being robbed or murdered; the presumption is that not even women would consent to being killed. But because penetration by males is what women are for, if we are raped we have to prove not just that we didn’t say yes, which is impossible to prove, but that we specifically and emphatically said no, which is also impossible to prove.

There are rules about what sort of woman can even attempt to make the “I said no” argument in court. Women who typically are not eligible to opt out of consent include: women who drink in bars, women who walk alone, women who walk at night, women who use drugs, women belonging to certain castes, women who dress a certain way, women who don’t dress a certain way, women who are married to men, women who have had multiple sex partners, women who may have said yes last month, women who may have said yes at the beginning but who, three minutes in, found it disagreeable and changed to “no,” women who didn’t fight back hard enough, women who didn’t tell anyone or report it right away, women whose physical similarity to pornulated women aroused the defendant, women whose behavior at the party aroused the defendant, teens with a “reputation,” and prostituted women.

Prostituted women are indistinguishable from sex itself. This is true to varying degrees of all women, but prostituted women particularly are imagined to manifest so cavalier an attitude toward being used at any and all times by any and all comers that it is considered impossible to rape them. Prostituted women can never say no to sex because they are sex.

The Twist-Solution

My wacky consent scheme flips it around. According to my scheme, women would abide in a persistent legal condition of not having given consent to sex. Conversely, men, who after all are constantly declaiming that their lack of impulse control is a product of evolution and there’s not a thing they can do about it, would abide in a persistent legal state of pre-rape.

Women can still have all the sex they want; if they adjudge that their dude hasn’t raped them, all they have to do is not call the cops.


But if, at any time during the course of the proceedings, up to and including the storied infinitesimal microsecond preceding the sacred spilling of dudely seed, the woman elects to biff off to the nearest taco stand; and if her egress from the sweaty tableau is in any way impeded by the pronger (such an impediment would include everything from “traditional” brute force, to that insistently whispered declamation “just a couple more minutes, I’m almost there” the dread seriousness of which the fervid oaf dramatizes by that ever-so-slight tightening of his grip on her wrist); or if, in three hours or three days or, perhaps in the case of childhood abuse, in 13 years it begins to dawn on her that she has been badly used by an opportunistic predator, she has simply to make a call.

Presto! The dude is already a rapist, because, legally, consent never existed.

The cessation of rape would be immediate. Men would begin aligning their boinking protocols along non-barbaric lines in a hurry. It would suddenly be in their best interest to make damn sure that nothing in their behavior, either prior or subsequent to hiding the salami, would cause their partner to believe she has been abused.

She's so genius I feel giddy.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Sexting is the new Rainbow

Sex 'Cells' for Naked Teenagers
from the NYPost.
Reading this article made me question using the NYPost as a news source for an article, but there were several points I wanted to highlight about this teen "sexting" uproar.

In case you're unfamiliar, the idea is that middle and high school students are suddenly using their cellular/email/webcam technologies to send nudie pictures or sexual texts to classmates. Now, Cosmo has been suggesting that women take their feminine (read sexual) wiles to text since texting was invented, but now apparently the teens have caught on (duh - who else reads Cosmo in the first place??) and suddenly cell phones are perverting our youth.

1. I think the term "sexting" is wildly creative.

2. I am not sure that sending pictures or sexual texts is in itself inappropriate. I do realize that the decision making process that teens are using may be lacking. Deciding to send naked pictures, who to send them to and what the ramifications may be appears was clearly not fully baked for some teens. Well what do you expect?! Their frontal cortex hasn't fully developed! This is why we don't consider them adults! Being able to figure out the cell phone's secret functions doesn't mean they have the maturity to know how to deal with them. That's why parents were invented! Some teens may be sending boob shots to a boy they just met at a party, some may be using them as one part of a healthy sexual relationship (hey, you can't get STDs from a text) with a partner. The fact that all sexual/technological uses are being lumped together is clearly not a full picture of the behavior.

5. Every article I've read about the sexting phenom has focused predominantly on the fact that girls are getting naked and sending it to the boys. Where is the conversation about WHY young girls feel so pressured to objectify themselves? and WHERE is the accountability for these boys who are sending and circulating the pictures on? I don't want to hear the garbage about "the girls should know better" - I'm one to believe that trusting is a good trait and that faith in humanity shouldn't go punished - but beyond that; If a girl tells something private to a partner (an integral part of healthy relationships) and the partner then violates that trust, and that girl he is the problem. Not her.

4. The fact that "more than 50% of the girls who sexted did so under pressure" is alarming, but not shocking. We know that teens are experiencing dating violence, but we're having a much harder time as a society addressing this, and are instead freaking out about Teens! Sexting! instead of Teens! Abusing! So also not shocking that instead of addressing the epidemic of men's violence against women, rape and teen dating violence, the media likes to write about young girls sexting, complete with minor-in-a-lacy-thong graphic.

5. Note that all this shock and awe over our sexualized (read slutty) youth (read girls) didn't stop the post from reprinting a sexual image of a minor...apparently sex sells for more than just teens.

This is mildly reminiscent of the whole "rainbow parties" teen craze that was supposedly sweeping the nation a few years ago, which leads me to wonder if sexting is similarly a fantasy of overly anxious parents.

Violence and Women's Health

SPEAK UP ABOUT HOW VIOLENCE & COERCION AFFECT WOMEN'S REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH

With Congress and state legislatures across the country coming into session, analysts expect hundreds of bills to be introduced that would in some way restrict women’s access to reproductive health information and services. This year, the Family Violence Prevention Fund (FVPF) is urging experts, service providers and advocates to consider helping spread the word about the reproductive health consequences of abuse, and the ways restrictions on women’s access to reproductive health care can harm victims of violence or coercion.

“For a long time, many of us who work to stop domestic, dating and sexual violence have stayed in the background on reproductive health issues,” said FVPF President Esta Soler. “As a result, we may have missed some opportunities to educate the public about how difficult it can be for victims of violence and coercion to access the reproductive health services they need. It’s time for more of us to speak up and say that restrictions on women’s access to reproductive health care can do grave and lasting damage to women who are trying to survive coercion or violence.”

The need for action is urgent. In the next few months, legislatures are likely to consider laws and regulations that would, among other things: make it harder for women to access emergency contraception; allow pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control; and require school-based sex education programs to teach abstinence-only and prohibit them from providing contraceptive information or services. Because victims of abuse are at increased risk for sexually transmitted infections including HIV, unintended pregnancies and poor birth outcomes, access to these services and programs is critical.

Last year, bills were introduced in several states to prevent women from being coerced into having abortions – in most cases, by lawmakers who have worked for years to make it harder for women to access reproductive health care services. The rationale for this legislation is that women who are victims of violence are being forced to have abortions, as part of that violence.

Violence prevention experts agree that coerced abortion is wrong, but note that it is only one facet of the complex and common problem of sexual and reproductive control. Research shows that women in abusive relationships often experience a range of coercive behaviors, and may have partners who interfere with their birth control, impregnate them against their will, or intentionally expose them to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Focusing only on coerced abortion ignores the larger, more complicated reality of abuse and reproductive control, they say.

kNOwMORE
To support this work, last fall the FVPF launched the KnowMoreSayMore initiative to create a dialogue about the birth control sabotage and reproductive coercion that many teens and young women face, which can result in unintended pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections, miscarriage, infertility, coerced abortion, poor birth outcomes including preterm birth and low birth-weight babies, and other serious health problems.

Its website, www.KnowMoreSayMore.org, features the stories of several women who are sharing their experiences with birth control sabotage and reproductive coercion.

“These stories underscore that it is impossible for many women to negotiate safe sex because they are not in healthy, respectful relationships,” Soler continued. “That’s one reason abused women experience more sexually transmitted infections, HIV, unintended pregnancies and abortions. We can help lawmakers understand that subtler forms of violence, such as exposing a partner to HIV or refusing to use birth control, are terribly dangerous. The more we share that information, the more we will be able to do to make services available to victims and improve their reproductive health outcomes.”

Action in ‘09
This year, the FVPF is working with advocates and legislators around the country on legislation that would provide effective interventions to victims of violence in reproductive health care settings, as an alternative to coerced abortion bills. This kind of intervention can improve the health and safety of women experiencing abuse and control. The FVPF has created model legislation for these projects, which aim to educate health care providers about how to identify abuse and reproductive coercion, prevent the health effects of such violence, decrease unintended pregnancy, and partner with advocates to improve the health and safety of individuals who are experiencing violence.

“Most lawmakers, and even some advocates and health care providers, don’t fully understand the relationship between physical and sexual abuse, and reproductive health,” said FVPF Public Policy Director Kiersten Stewart. “It is imperative that we change that. Violence and coercion have a direct impact on women’s reproductive health and we must ensure that victims of violence have access to the information and services they need to keep themselves safe. At the same time, we must help those who care about reducing unintended pregnancies and abortion understand that they must address violence and abuse head-on to be successful.”

The FVPF initiative also supports expanding sex education to teach young people the importance of healthy, respectful relationships.

The FVPF’s kNOwMORE initiative is funded with generous support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

The Family Violence Prevention Fund has developed a new toolkit to give violence prevention leaders and others the tools to advocate for legislation that is not limited to coerced abortion, but addresses the reproductive health needs of all victims of violence. The kit includes sample proactive legislation, educational materials on coerced abortion legislation, as well as fact sheets, talking points, sample opinion articles and letters-to-the-editor on this issue.

To request a copy, please contact lisa@endabuse.org.

For more information, please visit www.KnowMoreSayMore.org.