Friday, June 30, 2006

Don't Porn and Drive

On March 30, Minnesota Timberwolves center Eddie Griffin was drunk and masturbating when he crashed his luxury SUV into a parked Suburban outside a store in Minneapolis, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday by the man whose Suburban was hit in the crash.
And some people say porn isn't dangerous.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 1:25 PM   2 comments links to this post

Therapy 'no cure for sex abusers'


Psychological therapy for sex offenders can reduce re-offending rates, but does not provide a cure, a study says. Researchers from the Universities of London and Leicester reviewed nine studies involving 567 offenders in the US, UK, Canada and Europe. Some treatment programmes have cut re-offending by up to 40%. But experts said the British Medical Journal report was wrong to talk about curing as it was not a medical problem and could not be solved as such.
From what I learned from those who worked with sex offenders in either offender treatment programs or in intensive probation programs, a combination of education and monitoring to quickly identify pre-offending behaviors are key to an effective program.

Where I can see talk therapy contributing to a reduction in reoffending is when a therapist helps the offender deconstruct the rationalizations that lead to rape, helps the offender understand what non-sexual needs were met through rape and helps the offender through the process of humanizing the pain of that person's victims. Since some offenders are master manipulators, what the therapist observes should always be combined with knowledge of what the offender is doing outside of the therapy sessions.

Knowing who should not be in the community under any type of monitoring or supervision is imperative even if we accept that sex offenses don't have a biological cause.

If you aren't convinced that rape is a choice, not an expression of a testosterone-related medical condition triggered by female hormones, look at some information about Tourette's Syndrome. If rape were like the symptoms of Tourette's, then there would be no picking of victims, no deliberate misunderstandings about the meaning of consent, no accusations that the victim did something stupid. There would be no denial by friends and family saying that this person would never rape because this person always respects women.

I posted some of my thoughts about the fallacy that the growth of the porn industry has contributed to a reduction in rape, but in that post I forgot to mention the growth of sex tourism and sex trafficking industries that may at least be partially linked to the desires of those who want to exploit others sexually, but who don't want to risk a felony conviction under the improved enforcement of rape laws.

If someone plans a trip to commit what would be a crime in the US, then that person has control even if he or she rationalizes away any feeling of responsibility.

Since we don't know the number of would-be rapists who have turned to sexual traffickers to get what they want, we can't say with any confidence that the problem of rape is on it's way toward rarity or that the need for victim services has abated in the least.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:14 AM   0 comments links to this post

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Senator Wants IRS to Chase After Pimps


Pimps and sex traffickers could soon find themselves being chased by tax collectors, not just the vice squad. Sen. Charles Grassley, chairman of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, wants the Internal Revenue Service to chase after pimps and sex traffickers with the same fervor it stalked gangster Al Capone for tax evasion.
Since those who profit from exploiting the prostituted often escape justice, I am all for following the money and using evidence of profiteering to stop these exploiters.

However, since I haven't seen the legislation in question and don't know what unwanted ramifications may come from this legislation, I can't say I support this exact proposal.

From what I've been able to learn about this legislation, it doesn't seem to address is the possibility of using part of the seized money to help those who have been exploited by pimps and sex traffickers. Since the average age of those brought into prostitution is 14 or less, most of these people desperately need help to deal with issues that come from being exploited for years. If we do nothing more than separate the trafficked from one trafficker, these people will be vulnerable to the traffickers who haven't been caught.

For those who argue that the prostituted are only victimized if they are minors, I must disagree.

From CNN: Trafficked women's symptoms akin to torture victims':
Women and girls trafficked for forced sexual or domestic work suffer post-traumatic stress on a par with torture victims, researchers said on Wednesday.
Notice, it says women and girls. Those who force children don't suddenly set exploited children free on their 18th birthday.

Here's what I could find from primary sources: Senate Finance Committee press release

If anyone can find a link to the legislation itself, please let me know.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 1:02 PM   3 comments links to this post

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Carnival Against Sexual Violence #2

Welcome to the July 1, 2006 edition (posted a little early) of the carnival against sexual violence. Thank you to everyone who nominated a post or who wrote a post against sexual violence whether it was nominated/selected or not.

Note: nominations that came in after the Sunday night deadline will be considered for the third edition which comes out on July 15.

So here's the 2nd edition of the carnival against sexual violence:

creative expression

In "I Hate Rape" posted at Brian aka humminbunny, Brian gives us a powerful poem that expresses what many people feel but can't find the words to say.

personal stories

In Pressing Charges posted at Capitalism Bad; Tree Pretty, Maia talks about trying to decide when an incident should be reported to the police. In the follow up post Indecent Assault, she talks about her decision.

In Sensitive subject material. posted at, we are given a glimpse of how one sexual abuse survivor's experience impacts her parenting.

In Anniversary posted at The Conflicted Redhead, a rape survivor copes with the emotions that are raised when the anniverary of rape approaches.

raising awareness

In I believe that Clint Rickards, Bob Schollum and Brad Shipton are rapists posted at Capitalism Bad; Tree Pretty, Maia shares what she can about the Louise Nicholas rape case without violating the suppression order on this case.

In "Soccer and Sex" posted at Brian aka humminbunny, he discusses the link between major sports events and sex trafficking/slavery along with possible abuses when fans are strip searched.

In tonne of date rape drug GHB seized posted at Rhetorically Speaking, the news of the seizure of a metric tonne of the "date rape" drug GHB - mostly headed for the clubbing scene - should draw attention to the increase in drug rape.

In A note on priestly betrayal and youth work posted at Men, women, homosociality and weight, this post highlights the need to not see all shows of affection as bad, but that acts of affection should be transparent not secret.

In Congressman Accuses Germany of "Complicity in Promoting Sex Trafficking" posted at Atlantic Review, provides different perspectives on how governments help or harm victims of sexual crimes with the laws they enact.

In If You Can't Ask For It, You Shouldn't Be Doing It posted at Mad Melancholic Feminista, the significance of the reluctance to ask for explicit permission is explored.

In Abuse in Relationships! posted at Holly's Fight for Justice, Holly provides a helpful article from Pamela Brewer MSW, Ph.D., LCSW-C. Her main page is worth visiting for more information on the work she did to bring her rapist to justice, including getting a segment on America's Most Wanted.

In Rape and credibility of rape survivors! posted at Why Holly's Fight to Stop Violence, we get a great source of information for rape survivors about the issues of rape cases before the courts and the credibility of everyone who files a charge.

In Rape woman's perspective posted at Biting Beaver, we get a perspective that should make us think twice about how such a personal experience is influenced by society's beliefs about rape. Even if you don't agree with all of the conclusions of this post, it's worth reading and considering carefully.

In Why Single Men Should Not Be Permitted to be Foster Parents posted at Women's Space/The Margins, we learn about a case where someone with a history of violence and drug abuse shouldn't have that history ignored simply because good people are willing to testify that he's a new man.

media watch

In Nyuck, nyuck… maybe she’ll get raped in jail! posted at Hell's Handmaiden, the use of joking about the possibility of a political opponent getting raped is challenged as the vile suggestion it is.

That concludes the 2nd edition of the carnival against sexual violence. Thank you for taking the time to visit this carnival. Together we can make a difference.

Because of the level of response to this carnival, I am switching from one edition per a month to twice a month beginning with the 3rd edition.

If you didn't find any posts on a specific topic you feel should have been included in this type of carnival, please nominate an existing blog article or write a post and nominate it to the next edition of carnival against sexual violence using our carnival submission form. Links to this and future editions can be found on the blog carnival index page.

The 3nd edition will be hosted here on July 15. If anyone is interested in hosting a future edition of this carnival, let me know.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:02 AM   4 comments links to this post

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Abstinence-Only Education Revives Dangerous Dating Myths

Alternet: Abstinence Double Standard Threatens Girls' Health

The sexist theme that seems to come up the most often in these classes is that girls just don't like sex, and therefore their main "job" is to keep boys, who do like sex, from getting any. A workbook from Sex Respect notes that "because they generally become aroused less easily, females are in a good position to help young men learn balance in relationships by keeping intimacy in perspective." But beware ladies, the increased sexualization of pop culture could interfere with your natural disdain for intercourse. The same workbook tells students that "a young man's natural desire for sex is already strong due to testosterone … females are becoming culturally conditioned to fantasize about sex as well."

Since girls don't like sex, it's their job to keep boys' desire at bay and to be the arbiters of chastity. "Girls need to be aware they may be able to tell when a kiss is leading to something else. The girl may need to put the brakes on first in order to help the boy." (Student Workbook, Reasonable Reasons to Wait) Because, after all, he can't help himself. "A woman is far more attracted by a man's personality while a man is stimulated by sight. A man is usually less discriminating about those to whom he is physically attracted." (WAIT Training manual, Friends First)

Under this model of sexual behavior, of course girls don't like sex because they're only allowed to experience attempted rape and/or rape. And since boys are put into the role of aggressor rather than the pursued or an equal partner, they get to walk away before sex becomes unlikeable -- for them.

To expect girls to teach boys balance, in the midst of dating or flirting or whatever interaction they have, is to abdicate the responsibility adults have to teach boys balance, self-control and respect for all girls.

A serious downside for boys under this system is they can find themselves following the so-called rules of abstinence (not their job to control themselves) and can subsequently get charged with sexual assault or attempted sexual assault.

If the so-called experts ignore that possibility, it's no wonder their educational programs don't do an adequate job of dealing with the subject of rape. Since boys aren't expected to stop themselves, only violent abductions would qualify as real rape. Most unwanted sex would be considered a girl's failure and if anyone is a criminal it would be her.

With this attitude, no boy should concern himself if his sexual partner doesn't like what he's doing because everybody knows girls shouldn't enjoy sex. Just as dangerous is the view that if his partner finds pleasure it means she's either doing something wrong or she is impure. Rape or slander of the girl's character could follow.

This approach to sex was a key contributor to the attitudes that led my boyfriend to believe he had the right to take everything he could get from me. So rather than seeing this as abstinence-only education, I see this as Rape Enablement 101.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 1:28 PM   2 comments links to this post

carnival for book writers #2

Welcome to the second edition of carnival for book writers.



Literary agent John Ware posted at Pen on Fire.

Q & A with agent Jenny Bent posted at Romancing the Blog.

Guest Blog by Annette Dashofy - Getting an Agent posted at Writers Unite.

The Business of Writing posted at Bookends LLC, provides insight into how one agency got its start.

Victoria Strauss -- Some Thoughts on Lists posted at Writer Beware, answers the question, "If there are lists of the bad agents you should avoid, why not have similar lists of good agents you should seek out?"

Queries & Great Info from an Agent posted at No Blank Pages, provides information from agent Jillian Manus and the process that begins when you leave your current agent.

Parting company with an agent posted at Miss Snark.


HE WROTE: Writing For The Market posted at He Wrote, She Wrote, gives a good perspective on the dangers writers face when attempting to give editors what they say they want.

So you want to write a novel... posted at ::inkthinker::, provides advice and references to help you on your way.


Questions for Lucia Macro, Avon posted at Cathryn Fox, gives information on what types of novels Avon Books is looking for.

A Conversation with Tina Pohlman posted at The Mumpsimus, provides an interview with Tina Pohlman, editorial director of Harvest Books (the paperback imprint of Harcourt).

marketing fiction

Lawyers, books, and money :"Harry Potter meets John Grisham" posted at Ex Libris, discusses the American Bar Assoc.'s second work of fiction in it's 127-year history.

Maturing Chick Lit posted at The Writing Life, discussed by Terry Whalin, who is the fiction acquisitions editor at Howard Books (an imprint of Simon and Schuster).

To market, to market to buy a... posted at MJ Rose, discusses how to find a balance between what you naturally write and what will succeed in the market.

The Road To Publication – And How Not To Get Mugged Along The Way posted at Murderati, provides advice on getting from The End to published.

writing through bad advice and bad choices posted at Riding With The Top Down, provides insight on when good advice isn't good for you.


Report from Book Expo Canada, Part Three posted at Eclectic Closet.

5/24: Passion! posted at Inside BookExpo America, provides a discussion of what it takes to be a financially successful bookseller.

That concludes the second edition of this carnival. Submit your blog article to the next edition (July 19) of carnival for book writers using the carnival submission form.

Links to this and future editions can be found on the blog carnival index page.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:01 AM   0 comments links to this post

Monday, June 26, 2006

Virginity, The Gift You Can Give Again For ...

... only $2000 - $10,000. (Disclaimer: Your price may vary.)

Hat tip to My Women Blog

Times Online

When Jeanette Yarborough decided to give her husband a gift for their seventeenth wedding anniversary she wanted it to be special. Really special. She decided that conventional treats such as Mediterranean cruises, gold watches, cars, a murder-mystery weekend, or even a boob job just weren’t going to cut it. She gave him something much more personal — and painful. Her virginity. Well, sort of. Mrs Yarborough paid $5,000 (£2,860) to a cosmetic surgeon to stitch her hymen back together so she could “lose her virginity” all over again and her husband would have that thrilling conquest at the grand age of 40.
With the emphasis on virginity being a gift a bride gives to her groom, the development of surgical procedure shouldn't surprise me.

It does.

However, as I mull over the idea of a woman's proof of virginity becoming a renewable resource, I like the idea of a woman having the power to restore what a rapist or abuser ripped away. I lost my virginity by force, but I don't know how it would have changed my reaction to the mistaken belief I had that I could only marry my rapist because my "gift" was gone.

Since men have no such gift to give or any burden of proof of their virginity, I hope this development makes this "gift" a non-issue.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:48 PM   0 comments links to this post

Incoming Virginia College Students To Be Checked Against Sex Offender Registry


A new law requiring Virginia's colleges to hand over prospective students' personal information to police for cross-checking against sex offender lists is coming under fire from privacy advocates and education leaders. Under the law, which takes effect July 1, public and private college officials must send state police the names, Social Security numbers and birth dates of all students accepted to their schools.

Proponents say the law will help protect students from sex offenders and state police are confident the personal information will be secure. But critics are raising concerns about privacy rights and risks that the data could be misused or stolen.

I have mixed feelings about this law because I can relate to the concerns of this law's supporters and critics. Balancing the various concerns isn't easy, but it is imperative.

If colleges are going to do more than ask whether an applicant has a felony conviction, there are a wide range of non-sexual criminal convictions that may seriously endanger the safety of other students. For example, an applicant with a history of arson, stalking or dangerous hazing.

The other issue is related to socio-economic status. An incoming student from a higher income family who was arrested for the same type of sex crime is more likely to have had a defense team that could either beat the charges or make a plea deal so the defendant avoids registering as a sex offender.

There's a good chance that the most dangerous students may appear, on paper, to be squeaky clean. If that's the case, this law could make schools believe they've done all the prevention work they need to do. They may decide there is no need for education that some parents and students find uncomfortable or politically charged.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:16 AM   1 comments links to this post

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Bishop Gave Abusive Priest Time To Escape Before Contacting Police


A priest who admitted sexually abusing a 12-year-old altar boy fled to Mexico after his bishop failed to immediately report the confession to authorities, a law enforcement official said.
The Rev. Xavier Ochoa was suspended April 28 after admitting to the abuse to the Roman Catholic bishop of Santa Rosa. Bishop Daniel Walsh didn't notify law enforcement until three days later, giving Ochoa time to flee, according to church and law enforcement officials.
I'm not surprised at the delay and not just because this involves Catholic priests. Like in the Duke rape case, those closest to the accused don't want to accept that those they care about or feel they know well, could be guilty of a sex crime.

Even when that person confesses.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:01 AM   2 comments links to this post

Illinois May Create Violent Non-Sexual Offender Registry

The Illinois General Assembly recently passed legislation that would create a unique registry for people who commit violent but non-sexual crimes against youth, allowing people like Skora to avoid the stigma of the sexual offender registry. Supporters see it as a matter of fairness for hundreds of people who were caught up in the rush to crack down on sex offenders. "The reality is sex offenders are a great political target," said Rep. John Fritchey, a Chicago Democrat who sponsored the measure after being contacted by Skora's mother. "But that doesn't mean any law under the sun is appropriate." If signed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich, it would become the nation's only registry solely for violent offenders against youth, experts say.
I'm not sure about this registry since it seems to have as many pitfalls as a sexual offender registry. It could also add quite a bit of administrative costs with an uncertain benefit to public safety.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:08 AM   0 comments links to this post

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The G Bitch Spot: There's More

G Bitch Spot

If you are only hit, from those who talk about physical abuse, your bruises and marks heal. When you are sexually, emotionally or verbally abused, the core of your existence is attacked and it takes a lifetime to pull yourself 90% together.


It [emotional/verbal abuse] is not worse or milder than sexual abuse. That is not my point. But any attacks upon a child's person, including her existence, including his right to breathe and live and eat, are abusive. Children must know they have bodily integrity and internal integrity, that no adult, or other child, has a right to attack the You of You.

This point is so important that I have to thank G Bitch Spot for making it.

What I find scary is when I see adults justifying emotional and verbal abuse by saying it will help motivate children to succeed. But making children think that nothing but perfection is acceptable, or regularly trampling on children's boundaries, does more than harm children's self image, it makes them vulnerable to exploitation. If children who are exploited are starved for positive interactions, they may blame themselves for what is done to them.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:43 PM   2 comments links to this post

LaShawn Barber Ignores Obvious Differences Between Duke Rape Case And 1931 Scottsboro Case

Townhall: La Shawn Barber: Scottsboro revisited

I wish I could take credit for this idea, but one of my blog readers noted and documented similarities between the Scottsboro and Duke rape cases. There are huge and obvious differences between the cases, to be sure, but the similarities are instructive.
This paragraph blows my mind. Ms. Barber admits there are huge and obvious differences, but then chooses to ignore those differences and seems to feel she should be excused for doing so because she told readers what she was doing.

To me this paragraph is an admission by Ms. Barber that she knows the two cases are not comparable as a whole, but that she will highlight any and every detail that overlaps and attempt to make that overlap seem meaningful.

If I get to ignore huge and obvious differences, boy can I have fun.

The defendants in most rape cases where the defendant is found not guilty are men, and the defendants in the Duke rape case are men.

Men convicted of rape and later cleared of the charges said all along that they were innocent, and the defendants in the Duke rape case said they are innocent.

Convicted murderer Scott Peterson said he was innocent, and the defendents in the Duke rape case said they were innocent.

Scott Peterson said he had an alibi, and at least one of the defendants in the Duke rape case said he had an alibi.

Ted Bundy, the BTK killer and most known serial killers are white males, and the defendants in the Duke rape case are white males.

We can find details where rapists are like rape victims and where men who shoot their spouses in cold blood are like men who shoot armed robbers. Doing that doesn't make the compared person or groups equal.

If we all get to ignore huge and obvious differences then we can make anything we want comparable to something that isn't at it's heart similar. We can then argue that a coconut is similar to a grape and must be treated by every intelligent person as such.

Ms. Barber closes with:

Race relations may have improved in the last 75 years, but when we allow race-fueled hysteria to deny men justice progress is impeded. And time begins to reverse.
I notice that Ms. Barber doesn't concern herself with hysteria that attempts to deny women justice. She, like many others who have jumped on the bandwagon of labeling the alleged victim in the Duke lacrosse rape case, doesn't need to wait for a trial to reach her own conviction.

In that way she is like the mob in the Scottsboro case.

I wonder what other actions could be defended using Ms. Barber's selective comparison strategy.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:41 AM   5 comments links to this post

If Porn Doesn't Make Men Rape Why Not Support Porn?

Hat tip to Feministe

Glenn Reynolds - Porn: Good for America!

What's different since 1970? Lots of things, of course, though bared midriffs and short-shorts are back. But probably the most relevant difference is porn. In 1970, some people argued that porn caused rape. Since 1970, though, porn has exploded. In 1970 you had to work pretty hard to find porn. Now you have to work nearly as hard to avoid it.

But rape has gone down 85%. So much for the notion that pornography causes rape - or, at least, if it did have much effect in that direction, it would be hard to explain how rape rates could have declined so dramatically while porn expanded so explosively.

So while I won't go so far as to argue that porn actually prevents rape, it seems clear that the claims of some people - including a commission headed by former Attorney General Ed Meese back in the 1980s - that pornography promotes rape are, at best, overstated. I suspect, though, that anti-pornography crusaders are unlikely to heed this lesson.

Spoken like a man who loves his porn, in-print, on-line or via satellite. And I won't even get into interpretting the use of the phrase "porn has exploded" other than to say it makes me want to call in a CSI or HAS/MAT team.

I can think of so many changes since 1970 that are more relevant to the occurrence of rape than porn. Changes like the creation and expansion of rape crisis lines, improved response to rape by law enforcement, acceptance by more people that rapists are responsible for rape not miniskirts, rape awareness efforts, updated laws to reflect the reality of rape, and let's not forget DNA matching.

I do agree with Mr. Reynolds in that those who say porn makes men rape are wrong. What that approach does is remove responsibility from those who commit rape. Rapists and serial killers like Ted Bundy in his final interview, given to James Dobson use this connection to paint themselves as helpless victims of a porn addiction.

Unfortunately some people buy this manipulation.

Despite his public persona, Ted Bundy was an angry man who decided to act violently. You don't do what he did if you love women. His porn of choice would have been the meanest kind. What sadistic porn could do was tell him that there was an outlet for his hatred. Sadistic, sexual murder.

If porn doesn't cause rape, what's the problem with porn, other than prudism?

My biggest objection to the purchase of pornographic photos or videos is that the money spent on porn financially supports the sexual exploitation of men, women and children. If what is being depicted is a crime, then those who buy that depiction are providing financial support to criminals. That's why possession of child porn is automatically a crime. Even if no one in a pornographic image looks like a minor, how can a consumer verify that no coercion or drugs were used to get the "actors" to perform sexually?

A key problem with rape statistics, in 1970 and now, is that those who aren't full and completely willing participants in porn aren't likely to identify themselves as victims of a sex crime. If they aren't identified as innocent children, we either call them scum or we imagine them as breathing sex toys. Only a rare few are helped by the criminal justice system. Most face the same health risks as those we accept to be rape victims and they may have a higher risk for contracting HIV.

Despite that, most people view those shown in porn as less human and less valuable than everybody else.

Even though I was in grade school in 1970, I knew my older brothers could get porn if they wanted it and if they could pay the price. If a small town didn't have at least one of those sleazy shops, the larger towns did. When I married later in the decade, my groom burned his porn because he had a wife to fulfill his fantasies. He had enough porn so it smothered the fire he threw it into.

Of course I didn't learn that my Christian husband had a thing for porn until after the wedding. His rationale seemed to be that porn was an acceptable substitute for pre-marital sex. In other words, porn helped him behave like a good Christian man. Like Bundy's blaming porn for murder, that rationale was a load of crap. I don't know if porn was the cause or a symptom, but "relationship" was never part of sex in that marriage. I was expected to perform sexually. In essence, I was to bring his porn to life.

I don't know about others, but for me that was so far from arousing it was heartbreaking. And of course the source of the problem was me, not my husband's expectations or the failure to bring "relationship" into the bedroom. So while porn didn't make him a rapist, it didn't help him become a better sexual partner either. In many ways porn led him to beliefs about sex that interfered with healthy and pleasurable sexual behavior.

To say the least, if I learn a man is into porn, I won't be into him. Been there, done that. Have the boredom and the frustration to show for it.

Despite the proliferation of delivery methods for porn, I don't have to work at all to avoid looking at porn. What I find fascinating about the change since 1970 is the increase in pay-per-view porn at hotels so "good" people can watch porn without worrying about getting caught buying or owning porn or having it on their computers. I could certainly speculate about what that means, but I won't.

If Mr. Reynolds truly believes that porn is good for America and that an increase in porn has contributed to a decrease in rape then giving all sex offenders a lifetime supply of porn should make rape a mythical occurance.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:07 AM   3 comments links to this post

Friday, June 23, 2006

Duke Rape Case Hush Money: Help or Harassment?

Wilmington Journal (hat tip to Krystal)

The cousin of the alleged victim in the Duke University lacrosse rape case says "alums of Duke" quietly offered the accuser lots of money - a staggering $2 million - early on to drop the charges, and go on with her life.
With what's at stake, I find this reported offer believable. It becomes downright probable after the statement made by Sam Hall, communications director for Duke University Alumni Affairs, who couldn't confirm the offer but also didn't deny it.

What's more interesting is the report that black leaders were approached with an offer of money for them and for the alleged victim "if they could influence her to retract her allegations." This goes beyond offering a private settlement to drop the charges and takes these actions smack into what I believe is witness tampering.

Anyone who participated in such an offer stepped over the line into immoral and possibly illegal behavior.

What it also tells me is that many of the wealthiest expect to be immune from prosecution when they or their own commit serious crimes while the poorest, including those who are innocent, may have trouble getting a public defender. But of course it is horribly wrong for anyone supportive of this woman's case to bring class into the discussion.

Yeah, right. Looks like I have 2 million reasons to bring class into this discussion.

The stage for this alleged abhorrent behavior was set when many people (bloggers and others) stated that they knew in their hearts (from the moment the story broke) that the alleged victim was an extortionist who had carefully plotted every step of this entire scenario. It hasn't mattered to these people when key elements in their supposed plot proved to be false.

Those who were publicly supportive of the Duke lacrosse players, but less naive about how "good" boys can treat "bad" women, may see the university's reputation as more important than justice. To them a large sum of cash to settle a criminal case wouldn't be any different than offering a large sum of cash to settle a civil case and with the agreement that all details of the case remain sealed.

Never mind that in some of those sealed civil cases, the information locked away prevents the public from learning about dangers that still exist because cash was the only corrective action taken.

The offer to the alleged victim in the Duke lacrosse rape case might have been made with no intention of giving the alleged victim a dime, but with the intention to use it to prove that this women lied specifically to make some "easy" money.

The money is the carrot while the systematic character assassination of the alleged victim is the stick. But alleged rape victims should never be treated like they aren't as human as the rest of us.

And oh, yeah, for those of you who call the alleged victim a gold digger because of Jesse Jackson's offer to pay for the rest of her education. She didn't take that money or other offers of money from those groups who believe her and want to support her.

With the death threats and the harassment this woman has faced, she has as much right to accept help as the family's of the defendants have to ask for financial help (lowered bond.)

For being a scheming *** only out for her own personal gain, she's either doing a lousy job -- or she's like many victims who believe that fighting for justice will impact more than their own case. Maybe fighting for justice will keep other men from believing they can get away with raping and assaulting someone they see as nothing more than a scheming ***.

Not that they will call or even think about what they do as rape or even sexual assault. That implies taking something you acknowledge that you don't have the right to take.

Rosa Parks wouldn't give up her seat on the bus and many rape victims won't give up their rightful position in the pursuit of justice.

It speaks volumes about people if they say Rosa was a hero while vilifying alleged victims.

And for those convinced that every sensible person now knows that the charges are false, I have to point you to one who has taken your side. Hey, I'm just a rape survivor and a victim advocate who answered victims calls for help and stood with them during their evidentury exams. That makes my critical thinking skills non-existant, right?

With that weakness in mind, here's your informed, opposing position:

ABC News
Monks [Republican candidate for Durham county prosecutor] said he would reserve judgment about the Duke lacrosse investigation if and until he is elected. However, he said, if he is elected and determines that the Duke case is weak, he would dismiss the charges. "I would review the facts and find out what it is that Mike Nifong has on these kids, and I'd try it
if there's a case and dismiss it if there isn't,'' Monks told ABC News.
So even this attorney (with experience in family law) who is determined to take control of this case (by his own admission, it's the only reason he's running) doesn't know that this case is without merit.

With all of the defense team spin and news coverage based on that spin, that tells me a lot.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 1:44 PM   3 comments links to this post

Sexual Harrassment Award Affirmed

Washington Post

The [US] Supreme Court made it easier today for workers in most parts of the country to sue employers for retaliating against them when they complain about sexual harassment. The court said that employees may collect even if the punishment did not involve getting fired or losing wages.

The court ruled unanimously that Burlington Northern Railroad violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act when it reacted to Sheila White's charges of gender discrimination by transferring her to a more arduous job and suspending her for 37 days, even though it later reinstated her and gave her back pay.

This is wonderful and frankly surprising news. It seems like the rights that so many people sacrificed so much to gain are silently and systematically being eroded. To see any blocking of that erosion from conservative judges gives me hope.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:39 AM   1 comments links to this post

Appeals Court On Requiring Sex Offender to Undergo Periodic Testing

ABC News

An appeals court has ruled that a federal judge erred in requiring a sex offender to undergo a periodic test that measures his response to erotic images. In its decision handed down Tuesday, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals described the test as "Orwellian" because it examines the mind of Matthew Weber, not just his body.

The three-judge appeals court panel unanimously vacated U.S. District Judge Dean Pregerson's 2001 judgment and sent Weber's case back to district court. Pregerson had ruled that Weber, in order to be released from prison, would have to undergo tests in which a pressure-sensitive electronic device is placed on his groin and his response to stimulating images is monitored, said his lawyer, Jonathan Libby.

The problem I see from measuring a physical response is it doesn't test what actions different people (offenders/non-offenders) will take in response to arousal. I might find a particular man sexy, but I'm not going to stalk him or slip a drug into his drink so I can get what I want from him.

Even though the sex offender in this case was convicted of possessing child pornography, this test may not be a good predictor of future behavior. And that may be true even for those able to pass a test like this.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:18 AM   1 comments links to this post

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Deadline Approaching For Carnival Against Sexual Violence

This Sunday night (June 25) at 11 pm is the deadline for the 2nd edition of the Carnival Against Sexual Violence will appear on July 1 on There's still time to nominate a post (your own or someone else's).

If you haven't read it yet, check out the 1st edition of the carnival against violence.

Because of the strong response to the carnival against sexual violence, the 3rd edition will appear on July 15. If you have a special theme in mind and would be interested in hosting this edition, let me know. Otherwise I will host this edition.

Please help spread the word so we can help connect all those dedicated to stopping rape and other forms of sexual violence.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:38 AM   2 comments links to this post

Prison Guard Being Arrested For Trading Alcohol For Sex Starts Gunfight


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- A guard started a gunfight inside a federal prison Wednesday as FBI agents tried to arrest him and five others accused of trading alcohol and pot for sex with female inmates, officials said. When the shooting was over, two people were dead and another was wounded. The gunman and a Justice Department investigator were killed in the exchange of gunfire, and a prison employee helping with the arrest was hospitalized, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.


The guards also were accused of threatening to plant contraband in inmates' belongings or have them shipped to other facilities farther from their families if they reported the illegal activity.
According to the indictment, the guards showed inmates information about themselves and other prisoners on the prison system's computer system to prove their threats were real and that they could be tracked anywhere in the system. It said the guards switched duty assignments to arrange trysts with the female inmates.

While some may see the offense as "victimless" until the guard being arrested opened fire, this was a serious abuse of power and may in fact include rape since it isn't true consent when you are given the choice of two unacceptable outcomes.

This sort of abuse may become more common now that more than 1 in 100 of our population incarcerated, But the core problem is more than one of overcrowding. A bipartison U.S. Prison Study Faults System and the Public for a variety of problems related to prisons and prisoners. And if we fail the prisoners, we aren't just hurting them, we are actually hurting ourselves.



Attorney Tim Jansen, who represented Hill [the guard who started shooting], said his client's behavior was "totally out of character." "He had no criminal history or issues of violence in his background," Jansen said.

If the allegations are correct, this guard did have issues of violence in his background. So many times I hear this same pathetic excuse making when a man kills someone rather than face the legal system. Plenty of men and women are arrested who choose not to commit murder.

This man made a choice. We need to remember that.

Update (6/23):

Ex-Inmates Say Guard Sex Abuse Rampant

(AP) Former inmate Ashley Turner was not surprised to hear that investigators had raided a federal prison to arrest guards accused of having sex with inmates. She said she was pressured by guards at the same facility.Wednesday's raid set off a deadly shootout when one of the guards pulled a handgun on federal agents. But the confrontation also raised new questions about whether men should be assigned to guard women's prisons.Turner said she never had sex with the guards at the Tallahassee Federal Correctional Institution, but they coerced her to strip and touch herself sexually. She said other inmates would have sex with guards in exchange for cell phones, money and marijuana.The sex-for-contraband scheme had been going on for years, she said, and involved more than the six guards who were indicted.

The reason I believe guards would feel justified in participating in this sort of abuse goes back to stereotypes about good and bad women and how good men can do bad things to bad women and still think of themselves as good.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:58 AM   1 comments links to this post

Top 5 Reasons Why Torture Is Un-American

June is Torture Awareness Month.

First, torture by any other name is still torture. Playing word games to avoid that label, or attempting to redefine torture to suit your purposes, tells the world that you are premeditating the torture committed by or for those working to protect our country.

Here are my top 5 reasons why I believe torture is intrinsically un-American:

1) Torture may be seen as a means to an end, but our means are an end.

We are what we do to reach our goals. Tyranny in the name of freedom is still tyranny.

2) What we do when we have enemies under our control tells our enemies who we really are much more effectively than any presidential speech.

Action trumps propaganda every time. If we want to convince our enemies that we shouldn't be seen as evil, we need to show them we are better than they imagine us to be.

3) Torture is an ineffective interrogation technique.

"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile."- Napoleon Bonaparte.

Want something a little more modern? Try this Washington Post article.

4) Torture turns us into the type of people we hate.

Barbarians aren't born, they are made. And those in power who order or encourage barbarous treatment as easily as they order a burger and fries are the greatest barbarians of all. Just as people who order a murder are guilty of that murder, those who order torture are guilty of torture.

5) When you inflict torture, you can't believably protest when torture is inflicted on you or yours.

This is twice as true if you publically disdain moral relativism. If right is right and wrong is wrong -- and you say that it is right for us to torture (even if you avoid using that word) -- then it is right for all to torture.

From the Christian Science Monitor:
The Founding Fathers didn't treat prisoners decently solely because they were decent people. Although their writings and ideals reveal a constant and passionate interest in essential human rights, it's important to remember that they were also pragmatists. They understood that the Revolutionary cause had to take and hold the moral high ground in order to rally popular support and exhaust the British giant. And they knew that their necks were very literally on the line were they to be captured by the British. Mistreatment of British soldiers would come back on their heads a thousandfold.
It is only arrogance, and insulation from the human costs of war, that makes people forget what the founders of the USA knew so well. There were other areas where our founders didn't do so well in practice, such as slavery, but even there they didn't pretend the problem didn't exist.
If you want to encourage the torture and cold blooded murder of American soldiers and civilians, support those Americans who say we have a right to torture our enemies or those suspected of being our enemy.

Let's retake that moral high ground and keep the progress we've made since the Revolutionary War.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:06 AM   1 comments links to this post

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

UK Rape Trial Changes Not Working


The report found there was no evidence the new rules were being "widely observed".
Applications to admit evidence of sexual history were taking place during trials and being presented verbally, rather than in writing as they should be. The report said there was a "surprising lack of knowledge" about the correct procedure to follow among nearly half the 17 judges interviewed. Ignorance of the new rules was also thought to be widespread among barristers, it noted.

Some defence barristers were said to be timing their requests "just before or during cross-examination to create the most pressure on the complainant". In one example a defence barrister asked a defendant if there had been blood on the bedsheets after he first had sex with a woman who made a rape complaint against him. "This was clearly intended to suggest that C was not a virgin when she first had sex with D," the report said. It illustrated a tactic deployed by defence teams to "evade the legislation", it added.

These tactics are all meant to draw the jury's attention away from the actions taken by the defendent and to play on stereotypes people have about women's sexuality. They want to recreate the myth of the female who is so wanton that she'll have sex with any man any time, but will press charges to protect the lie that she is a virtuous female.

This myth is in play anytime someone says, "She couldn't have been raped, she _____." (has been sexually active, flirted, drank too much, etc.) or "He can't be a rapist, he _____." (attends church every Sunday, volunteers, is an honor student, etc.)

What we need to do is respond to these attacks on the alleged victim's purity as if they tell us the defendent is as good as admitting he did what he's accused of doing but he doesn't think what he did was wrong.

The problem with that defense is there is no such thing as justifiable rape. If a man or boy can be seen as a credible witness even though he has an admitted sexual past, it is bigotry to refuse to believe anything a woman or girl says during a rape trial because she has a sexual past.

Even though the UK rape trial changes aren't working yet, they shouldn't be dropped as a lost cause.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:26 PM   4 comments links to this post

Rape and Personal Responsibility vs. Corporate Responsibility

Several bloggers, including Shakespeare's Sister and Lab Kat have reacted to this story: Girl, 14, sues alleging assault with the demand that we all take personal responsibility and don't blame others for our problems.

To expect a business to take any responsibility for contributing to a rape that resulted from a relationship started through the business is just plain stupid. Right?

The problem with this blanket response is it ignores possible negligence in the development, marketing or operation of a product aimed at minors. MySpace's business is focused on forming new relationships so it isn't comparable to a rapist and rape victim who first meet at the local mall.

From the Welcome Friend, to! page:

Step 1: Create your FREE profile Creating a profile in MySpace is fast, fun, and easy. You can disclose as much or as little information about yourself as you want. MySpace will always keep your personal information private and confidential. We will only show what you choose to share. You can even post pictures of yourself to add to the fun - ALL FREE!
Nothing here about safety and nothing on the navigation bar either. I clicked the Next button and got an error telling me page not found.

When I clicked on "sign up" I found nothing about safety in the body of the page.

What I did see most prominently was (in graphics):

1 Create your profile 2 upload your picture 3 make new friends
No step in there that says: "make a safety plan."

In the navigation bar at the bottom of the home page and the sign up page there is an item labeled, "Safety Tips." Since there was a prominent box on the sign up page informing users that MySpace doesn't spam users and several equally prominent boxes on the home page, important information can be highlighted.

Why isn't safety as prominent as privacy? Maybe because some new members would decide not to join if they associated signing up with MySpace with an increased risk of being raped. In that case, the less prominent placement of safety information is a business decision.

So what's the trade off between more business and safer clients? I can't blindly excuse businesses by saying all responsibility belongs to the consumer and/or the consumer's parents.

While we may think everybody understands the safety issues on a site like MySpace, that isn't necessarily true. Look at the Safety Tips and think about how it frames the risks to a 14-year old (or someone younger) who can't imagine that someone who sounds nice may be lying about much more than age.
When meeting a stranger, the recommendation is lax since taking a friend to meet a stranger in a public place may be putting two minors in a very dangerous situation.

Sadly, many times it takes an "outrageous" lawsuit for companies to modify their marketing efforts so all of their customers will be given the warnings they need to make fully informed decisions.

I'm not talking about piling the warnings on so deep that readers skip right on by the doom-and-gloom section. That's no better in practical terms than insufficient warnings. I'm talking about allowing reality to mix with the spin from the moment someone considers creating a MySpace profile.

Reuters, the top online teen hangout, said on Tuesday it will bolster protection for minors amid a flurry of complaints about sexual predators prowling the site and a lawsuit filed on Monday by a teenage girl charging it with negligent security practices. By next week, members over 18 years old would have to know the e-mail or first and last name of any 14- to 15-year-old member whom they want to contact, the company said. Any of MySpace's more than 85 million members would also be able to choose to hide their online profiles from strangers and only make them viewable to pre-approved friends, the company said.
Without the threat of financial loss, many companies would simply say, "Buyer beware" when they see a major risk for their customers and decide to ignore that risk. At least until something happens that damages the company's PR or bottom line.

Now those are serious matters.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:01 AM   2 comments links to this post

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Rape Case Dismissed Because Prosecutor Late

Cleveland Law Library Weblog
Judge Eileen Gallagher dismissed a rape case because the prosecutor was 45 minutes late for trial. The prosecutor appeared for trial that morning, and a hearing was held in the judge's chambers. Because the judge ruled the defense attorney could not present certain evidence, the defense attorney decided to switch from a jury trial to a bench trial. The prosecutor asked the judge to recuse herself, due to statements the judge made about the victim's credibility. The judge declined to recuse herself, and ordered the parties to reconvene for trial at 1 p.m. The prosecutor went to his office to prepare a petition to the court of appeals to prevent Judge Gallagher from hearing the case. At 1:45 p.m., the prosecutor was not in court, so the judge dismissed the case.
Frightening. What else can I say?

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 3:19 PM   0 comments links to this post

Statistics Show Drop In U.S. Rape Cases

Washington Post

The number of rapes per capita in the United States has plunged by more than 85 percent since the 1970s, and reported rape fell last year even while other violent offenses increased, according to federal crime data. This seemingly stunning reduction in sexual violence has been so consistent over the past two decades that some experts say they have started to believe it is accurate, even if they cannot fully explain why it is occurring.

I believe the vision of those who started rape crisis lines, and the work that is being continued by rape advocates today, is the number one contributor to this decline.

Victim blaming hasn't magically disappeared, but the support available for victims of rape shows that not everyone accepts that rapists are enticed into wrongdoing by their immoral victims. Most of us now accept that a Lolita-like teenager is either a predator's fantasy or a girl who most likely has a history of being sexually abused.

The increased awareness and the increase in the number of victims and survivors reaching out and speaking out can make it seem like rape is now an epidemic that sprang from nowhere. But it is instead a ground swell of opposition to letting rapists operate unnoticed and unimpeded.

Many rapists who once knew they were safe from prosecution because of how and where they picked their victims don't feel so safe anymore. To me that's a good thing. But to these men and those who still see many victims as unworthy of being called true victims, this crackdown on all classes of rapists isn't such good news. They believe we've gone too far when any type of woman or girl has a shot at justice.

If those who attack the efforts of rape advocates succeed at letting men and boys make "mistakes" when it comes to getting consent, I have no doubt that the trend WILL reverse itself. We can't let that happen.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:02 AM   2 comments links to this post

Monday, June 19, 2006

Debut of Carnival Against Child Abuse

The first Carnival Against Child Abuse is up at Survivors Can Thrive:

The response I received to my request for submissions to the first-ever Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse was much stronger than I ever could have hoped for or anticipated. Thanks to all 26 participants who had the courage to get involved in order to raise awareness on this critical issue. Please visit these brave bloggers using the links below and leave comments with your support.
My post, "What's To Blame When Children Sexually Offend?" is included. Thanks, Marj.

Go check it out.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:00 PM   1 comments links to this post

Homeland Security Inc. Profiting From Terror At Our Expense

Because of my experience as a rape survivor, I have a low tolerance for exploitive people, especially those who pose as upstanding citizens. This topic concerns me because those who profit from questionable practices harm others through their actions even when they don't see it that way.

From the NY Times:

More than two-thirds of the [Homeland Security] department's most senior executives in its first years have moved through the revolving door. That pattern raises questions for some former officials. "People have a right to make a living," said Clark Kent Ervin, the former inspector general of the department, who now works at the Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan public policy research center. "But working virtually immediately for a company that is bidding for work in an area where you were just setting the policy — that is too close. It is almost incestuous."

Federal law prohibits senior executive branch officials from lobbying former government colleagues or subordinates for at least a year after leaving public service. But by exploiting loopholes in the law — including one provision drawn up by department executives to facilitate their entry into the business world — it is often easy for former officials to do just that. Michael J. Petrucelli, for example, who was once acting director of citizenship and immigration services, moved within months of leaving his post in July 2005 to a job in which he lobbied the Coast Guard, another unit of the department, to test a power-supply device made by his new employer, GridPoint.

This trend is disturbing to me for two main reasons. The first reason is that because insiders know how to work systems they helped create, they can make money for themselves and their firms with little or no return in improved national security. And wasted homeland security money can mean lives lost.

If Homeland Security officials plan to make the jump to an area of the private sector that works with Homeland Security, their decisions as government employees will be colored by their plans. As they do this they may rationalize that they are the best stewards for these funds because they are experts and they may even tell themselves that more money will be wasted if this same money goes anywhere else.

Everybody's looking out for number one, right? So it might as well be them.

The second reason is that the federal tax money that gets funneled to these people and the companies they work for often are quietly funneled out of "less urgent" programs that if neglected can cost lives. Maybe a sex offender with violent tendencies goes unmonitored until it's too late or a child dies of lead poisoning after swallowing a piece of jewelry or an aging bridge suddenly gives way.

But like hurricanes before Katrina hit, these scenarios are less menacing than the war on terror.

With the No Child Left Behind law, public schools that don't meet set metrics lose funding even if what they needed was more money to get the job done. But when it comes to private companies that underperform in protecting our country, they are often rewarded with even bigger contracts. The official line is, "The job was more complicated than anticipated."

Overcharging the government millions of dollars or failing to do work that was paid for are dismissed as if these failures were nothing more than meaningless clerical errors.

Compare that to the reaction to cases of fraud committed by private citizens who claimed to be Katrina survivors. They are horrid people -- unlike those who manipulate the workings of government for corporate gain -- who are all just being good business people.


Exploiters are exploiters, whether they be in business suits or they claim to have lost everything. The visuals are just better when a Katrina relief debit card is used to pay for a Hawaiian vacation.

To demand that we look the other way because "we live in a post 9/11 world" is to demand that we put our country's fate in the hands of profiteers. And that will never make us safer or more secure in our liberty.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:08 AM   0 comments links to this post

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Father’s Rights and Men’s Rights Groups Understand Anti-Judge Violence

Unfortunately, they seem to understand it only in the sense that they empathize with men who commit assault and murder. Just like in many rape cases, it's the victims who should be blamed.

Trish Wilson

Some of you may have heard the story about a fathers' rights advocate Darren Mack, who had stabbed his wife to death and shot the judge who heard his case. The judge lived. This guy is now at large. Well, fathers' rights groups got wind of the story, and they are excusing this guy's behavior. They blame "the system" for what this guy has done. This is nothing new for these guys. They already blame "the system", feminists, and ex-wives when dads commit suicide. What they usually keep quiet is that they also blame "the system" et al when dads murder their wives and children.

(links in quote added by me)

Even when these men sound bloodthirsty and dangerous to all those unlucky enough to be stuck near them, they can't understand why any sensible judge would rule against "good" fathers like them.

Each time I hear from men like these, I appreciate my own father and my grandfathers so much more. I grew up assuming most fathers were as caring as these men were.

The roughest man I knew in my family was an uncle who loved to bicker with his wife (my father's sister who when she was a child would sit on a horse's back for hours so my father wouldn't ride 'her' horse). The bickering was never mean spirited and suited my aunt's personality perfectly.

My dad wasn't perfect. For example, he didn't tell his sister that walking where he needed to go on the homestead was easier than getting the horse -- so her sitting on that horse for hours didn't bother my dad at all. I'm not sure he ever told her that however.

With my family history, I didn't question what type of father my first husband was and believed every word that came out of his mouth about his "horrid" first wife who after being unfaithful, abandoned him and their young daughter to move in with her lover. I even understood why he could have been mad enough to hurt her after she betrayed him.

I just realized it but it was my own history of being betrayed (raped) and that fury that bubbled inside of me afterwards that contibuted to my belief that this man was my soulmate. I saw parallels that were mostly illusion and delusion.

It was only as our marriage was ending that I learned his first wife ran for her life when she moved about 2000 miles and one country away. I believe it was fear that made her leave her daughter behind. Looking back, he seemed to be trying to convince himself as much as he was trying to convince me.

Thankfully, when I needed a place to go when my marriage was imploding (my fault of course according to my then-husband), my father was there for me without hesitation or recriminations.

Any men's group that "understands" murder and attempted murder so easily shouldn't be called a men's rights or a father's rights group since that makes it seem like all men and all fathers are like them when nothing could be further from the truth. They should be called male domination and father domination groups. When they talk about wives and children as if they are property that was seized illegally through the evil courts, they reveal that they were one of the true sources of their family problems.

Redstatefeminist quotes from comments about recent attacks on judges, including this one:

God will deal with those which have ruined a wonderful relationship I had and killed it…It looks like it’s open season on judges and attorneys and/or anyone else who takes children from two fit parents and gives only to one parent “solely”
The man who wrote this comment sounds like an abusive spouse who had everything he wanted (mastered his universe through intimidation and possibly violence) until someone helped his wife and children get out alive. I doubt the relationship was wonderful for anyone except him.

This support for "Godly" violence is exactly what people like Ann Coulter are fostering through their demonization of entire groups of people. Anytime people say that activist judges or other law abiding citizens are endangering our society, they are feeding the rationalization of men like this. I made the mistake of doing that once and it's a mistake I'll never make again.

I'm very careful about what I say about those I stand in opposition to. The last thing I want to turn into is a female version of these men who glory in the death of those they see as oppressors or evil.

My father taught me better than that.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:09 AM   2 comments links to this post

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is falling behind in enforcing federal civil rights laws

Washington Post

With a shrinking workforce and a flagging budget, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is falling behind in enforcing federal civil rights laws in the workplace, labor union officials and civil rights advocates said yesterday. The EEOC is expected to have a backlog of 47,516 charges of employment discrimination next fiscal year, up from an estimated 39,061 this year and 33,562 in 2005, say officials with the American Federation of Government Employees, citing federal figures. The agency logged 75,428 complaints in 2005 and more than 79,000 the previous year.

Critics say the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission cannot adequately enforce civil rights laws because of budget shortfalls and staffing declines. At the same time, President Bush's 2007 budget request for the agency is $323 million, $4 million less than it received this budget year. The agency's full-time staff, which numbers 2,343 employees, has shrunk by more than 19 percent since 2001, according to the Office of Personnel Management. A partial hiring freeze has kept the agency from filling many openings.

This isn't good news and I don't think this problem happened by accident. If conservatives can't openly attack equal rights protections, they can neglect them to the point where those rights become nothing more than lip service.

But as I learned in Sunday school, you can know who people are by the fruits of their labor. The war in Iraq is costing billions but the Republicans show no signs of concern for the cost on that effort because their cause is worthy. Which means that their silence on EEO and the lack of funding also reflect their beliefs even if they tell us they fully support EEO.

Some may believe that civil rights protections coddle lazy people who feel entitled to any job they want, but as a recent study showed with similar resumes, with and without African American sounding names, there is still systemic discrimination occurring even in corporations that openly support diversity.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:32 AM   2 comments links to this post

Friday, June 16, 2006

Will public highways become an oxymoron?

Washington Post

[the Bush] administration persuaded Congress last summer to take steps to make it easier for the private sector to finance new roads -- and take over existing ones. Lawmakers removed several legal barriers to charging tolls on interstates and gave private investors new access to tax-free bonds for transportation projects.
The governor of Indiana who arranged for the privatization of that state's toll roads seems to think the backlash against his decision is xenophobia since the winning bid came from outside the country, but I suspect it's the continuing trend of privatization and the possible ramifications of privatization that has people concerned.

Whenever something is privatized or completely deregulated, we've been told that it only brings benefits. But many times in the long run it's the privateers who benefit at our expense.

Part of that trend is the substitution of fees for taxes. Rather than having a gas tax that pays for a solid network of well-maintained roads available to all with no tolls, toll systems which are expensive to administer are becoming investor magnets. If the fees are paid by drivers to private companies, the portion of those fees given to governments are seen as free money.

But it isn't free to those who pay the tolls.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:16 AM   0 comments links to this post

Are Rape Advocates Blind to False Claims?

Because so many people may have the same misperceptions and biases as Cathy Young, I am responding to her latest post on victim advocates.

Cathy Young

I must say, with all due respect to Hostler [from North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault], that I find it very hard to believe that in all her years in the sexual assault field, she has never seen someone who came forward with a claim of sexual assault that, in fact, had never happened. It's hard to believe simply as a matter of statistical probability. I'm not saying that she's lying; I suspect it's simply a matter of preferring not to see.
This statement indicates to me that Cathy Young has a basic misunderstanding about the frequency of sexual assault and about victim services. This is an opt-in program so alleged victims can choose not to work with a victim advocate. That means that no victim advocate or agency or collection of agencies is going to work with everyone who makes a claim to the police that a sexual assault occurred.

I doubt that the girl who lied in May of this year about why a taxi driver wouldn't let her go, agreed to work with a victim advocate even if she was offered their services.

Ms. Young's statement quoted above also assumes that the percentages of false reports is so high that a victim advocate with any amount of experience must have worked with at least one woman who lied about being sexually assaulted. That assumption is dangerously wrong and lets armchair experts claim they know more than those who work with victims in one capacity or another -- because if we weren't fooling ourselves, we'd see what Ms. Young expects us to see.

The closest I've ever come to a false allegation was during an education session with a trained investigator on our local police force. What we were told was that false allegations were rare, but they did happen. The MO usually involved an accuser like the case above or someone with specific mental health issues like the example Ms. Young gave from 1991 to support her conclusion quoted above. It's worth noting that for the story Ms. Young wrote in 2004, she used as an example a case that took place 13 years earlier (and now 15 years ago).

I take that back. I did have a caller who I believe was making a false allegation. All I can say about the call due to confidentiality was it was a man. Because of a crime that was committed by a man within weeks of that call, I still hear his tone and his words echoing in my head and I wonder.

Now that I'm thinking about it. There were more. The sicko crank callers. Also men.

The cab driver falsely accused and the 1991 case are not comparable to cases where the prosecutor doesn't believe there is enough evidence to file charges. Also with tight budgets and unpredictable juries, some solid cases may go nowhere. Just because you can't, or won't, prove something doesn't mean it didn't happen. And just because something happened doesn't mean people like Ms. Young agree that it qualifies as a real rape.

That need to go way back to prove a specific point (ala Tawana Brawley - 1987) should be significant to those who aren't sure what or who to believe. It's estimated that every two and half minutes someone in America is sexually assaulted.

Think about the number of proven false accusations people collect like paperweights and then compare that to these statistics from RAINN:
Of the average annual 204,370 victims in 2003-2004, about 65,510 were victims of completed rape, 43,440 were victims of attempted rape, and 95,420 were victims of sexual assault.
Because of the methodology of the National Crime Victimization Survey, these figures do not include victims 12 or younger.
For many people the thought of 200,000 plus victims in a 12 month period is overwhelming and to keep from feeling some of the pain behind those statistics it can be tempting to decide the number must be far too high. This can't be happening in America, they think, so they attack those who insist on keeping this problem where everyone can see it.

Yes, we do.

Because vermin work best when nobody knows they are there. But the good news is that despite the increased coverage of rape cases (and maybe because of it) the trend is moving in the right direction.

Ms. Young also makes a mistake in believing that victim advocates' and feminists' assumptions that each allegation should be treated as if it were legitimate is damaging to rape defendants. The conviction statistics in rape cases don't support her conclusion.

What we are asking for is to have all cases investigated respectfully and not to have police and others dismiss this serious issue as if it's all in our heads or our vindictive hearts. This approach cleared the cab driver accused of attempted rape in just over 2 weeks so it doesn't give blanket protection to those who chose to lie about being raped.

Rather than wanting all men accused of rape thrown in prison or put to death, what all activists that I know want is for rapists to stop raping and for all exploiters to stop sexually exploiting. Until that happens those who are victims of sexual crimes deserve a fair shot at justice.

For those who blame victim advocates and feminists for cynicism towards rape defendants, you should be blaming the rapists and wannabe rapists who by their sheer numbers make many people skeptical at protests of innocence when yet another man is charged with a sex crime.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:05 AM   1 comments links to this post

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Parents: Expert Says Sexual Attack 'Pleasurable'

To understand this case, you have to understand that one of the basic tenets in many sexual assault laws are protections for those who are vulnerable to exploitation. These protections are needed to respond to cases where imbalances of power are used against the victim and true consent becomes impossible.

He, she or they with the most power have the most legal responsibility.

When we tell children to go to school and do as they are told, we don't expect them to be told to do sex acts. If they are then they are not the ones to blame if they don't know they won't get in trouble if they run screaming into the hallway.

Because schools have an inherent and ongoing imbalance of power, schools can't plead that they had no way to anticipate the possibility of improper behavior when one student is given even temporary control over another student.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) -- The parents of a severely disabled woman suing a Colorado Springs school district over a sexual assault at a high school said the district has refused to mediate a civil lawsuit as one of its experts called the attack "pleasurable" for the woman.

Kalie McArthur, now 20 and with an IQ of about 50, was assaulted in September 2004 at Rampart High School by a 15-year-old boy assigned as a peer trainer, said Jeff Weeks, an attorney for the girl and her parents.

The boy, who had been suspended 20 times in the previous year and had a 0.0 grade point average, wasn't screened or trained and spent an unknown amount of time with McArthur, her parents, Cindy Starr and James McArthur said.

This case shows an appalling failure by the school district, both before and after the sexual assault. What isn't in doubt is that a crime was committed. The boy pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual contact with a helpless victim.

"A professional hired by the district said the assault was pleasurable, not traumatic," said Starr. "He said it ignited her female desires."
The initial failure is compounded when in effect the school district perpetuates, through their expert, a very dangerous myth, that exploiters are simply teaching their victims about sex and that if a victim's body responds to inappropriate sexual contact, what happened wasn't wrong or damaging.

That's rationalization designed to get the perpetrator off the hook. To have a school district support that view in any way feeds into the belief by many sexual perpetrators that their only crime was getting caught.

With that response, a lawsuit is needed to ensure the safety of other students in that school district. It would be a shame if it took the threat of financial loss to make a school district show that they've changed policies and practices that made it easy for this crime to happen.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:36 AM   2 comments links to this post

Ann Coulter sees the emergence of hate radio as a good thing

Does Ann Coulter really believe hate radio and conservative hate groups who seek new members on the Internet are wonderful advancements in our civilization?

ANN COULTER: Well, that's the question. I mean, as I describe in this chapter on the liberal doctrine of infallibility, they've come up with various methods over the years to prevent an opposing viewpoint from being heard. It used to be easy; they just wouldn't put us on TV. They had 100 percent control of all news dissemination in America. That -- that got broken by hate radio, the Internet, and, of course, Fox News, which has driven them out of their minds. And so, consequently, the next trick is to send forward these -- well, they complained about, you know, hate speech and hate radio and angry white men.

I was living in Denver when liberal talk radio host Alan Berg was murdered (shot 12 times) by a neo-Nazi group so I know the "angry white men" Coulter is referring to aren't harmless eccentrics being picked on just because they aren't liberals. And don't forget it was angry white men, born and bred in America, who were behind the Oklahoma City bombing and who didn't care that they were also blowing up a daycare center filled with children.

I wonder who Ann Coulter would label as Godless in Berg's murder? From everything I've seen and read of her interviews supporting her latest book, I can't help but believe it would be the murdered liberal. If that labeling isn't motivated by hate then the only conclusion I can reach is her motivation is notoriety in the almighty pursuit of book sales.

No matter what Ms. Coulter's motivation is, the problem remains that some who read and listen to her rhetoric could take it as gospel and use it as justification to commit murder (in the name of God of course) against the godless liberals who commit treason for daring to disagree with her or those she defends.

When the next homegrown bomber who targets a liberal or a liberal group is caught, will they find Ann Coulter's books in his home?

If so, then it would be logical for the FBI to order booksellers to turn over the names of everyone who bought a copy of Godless. As the conservatives remind us daily, we are in the midst of a war on terror. If those of us who are doomed in Ann Coulter's eyes shouldn't object to having our reading habits dissected for no clear reason, then those who read her books shouldn't mind full investigations into every detail of their lives, including their taxes, to determine if they, like others before them, have stepped over the line from hate speech to hate crimes or terrorism.

To me the glorification of hate speech is as disturbing as Ms. Coulter's attacks on people who speak out from real tragedies in their lives. Those attacks have rightfully been slammed as malicious.

All I'll say on that personal attack is that Ms. Coulter would leave activism to those who have been insulated from tragedy and who make laws and policies with only a distant understanding of how those laws and policies impact people who aren't so cushioned. In her ideal world victims are only to be used as pawns in conservatives' political games, they shouldn't be allowed to speak independently or challenge authority.

By her argument, I have no right to talk about issues related to rape because by speaking out I am reveling in being raped. If I wanted to make a difference, it would be okay for me to be a photo-op prop for politicians, but nothing more.

It's interesting that Ms. Coulter lumps Fox News in with hate radio and the hate groups who use the Internet. I never would grouped them together as if they were a matched set, but now because of Ms. Coulter, I have to reassess my opinion of Fox News as annoying but harmless.

Ms. Coulter makes me shudder at the thought of who Fox News would have put on to give a rebuttal if they existed when Martin Luther King Jr. gave his "I have a dream" speech. And shudder again at what would have been said after MLK was assassinated.

But I guess it shouldn't suprise me that someone whose markets hatred so well and so carefully would have an affinity for hate groups.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:14 AM   1 comments links to this post