Monday, July 31, 2006

Teen Boys Still Feel Good About Pressuring Girls To Have Sex

WCCO

"Usually a guy will get with a girl," says 16-year-old Dan Johnson, "and just try to get it like within a month, you know? Just go straight to it, you know? Like achieve a goal." According to new research from Indiana University Medical Center, 40 percent of teen girls admit they have agreed to sex even though they really didn't want to.
This isn't surprising to me at all since this goal-orientation for the boys means that the girl becomes an opponent who gets conned, coerced and/or cornered. This sort of sex isn't about sexual needs at all, it is about ego and competing with other boys. Hurting girls in the process becomes collateral damage not worth a second thought.

This mindset isn't just bad for girls, it is bad for boys. They lose so much more than they win. The most obvious loss is the possibility of rape charges. The least obvious loss is that by pushing beyond what the girl wants these boys will never have true intimacy. They reach their goal yet lose the true prize.

Sex educators believe many times girls plan to say no, but get caught off guard when the advances are physical and not verbal. "You're hugging, you're kissing and that's all fine," says sex educator Kim Frndak, "and then it's gone to another level completely without your wanting it to, without you ever having discussed it, without the young man ever saying, 'This is what I'm intending to do.'"
Translation: Before the girl knows it, the boy sees a vulnerability and goes for the win. By hook or by crook. By consent or by rape. Because of this, any prevention strategy that only focuses on educating girls is like only teaching driving safety to those most likely to be struck by reckless drivers and ignoring young drivers who have been told by their buddies that it is fun to rule the road by intimidation.
She says parents should teach girls what to say if a boy starts to go too far. "If you can practice with your daughter," says Frndak, "having her think about what she would do if it went from cuddling to we're having intercourse – how she could say, 'I really like you, in fact I think I love you', whatever the case, 'but I'm not ready for intercourse' in a strong clear voice. If she can practice that, it just might save her from being one of those statistics."
As a survivor of rape by a boyfriend who used love as a weapon, I absolutely disagree with the advice to tell a boy who is making an unexpected and unwanted move to get sex that he is loved. Also forget "I'm not ready" or "I'm waiting for my wedding night" responses since both of those give the boy something to debate and opens the girl up to being the one who has to convince the boy to wait.

This situation is about the boy's decision to go for the score.

If anyone has to justify or explain, make that person be the one asking for more than is being offered. If the boy says it's sex or the end of the relationship, there is no true relationship only the pursuit of sex. If the boy starts calling the girl names which imply she led him on, it should be a deal breaker since boys who care for their girlfriends don't resort to blackmail.

The girl's top priority needs to be protecting herself from exploitation. And that protection should begin at the first signs of coercion and disrespect, not the last signs before attempted rape. Forget how big of a catch a certain boy is or how many girls say they wish he were their boyfriend. Those are all about image not substance.

If the girl is afraid of alienating her boyfriend she could ask, "Hold on. Kissing you felt great, but now you're ignoring me and what I want. Whatever we do needs to be mutual."

If the boy truly cares about his girlfriend then he will benefit from the feedback.

Losing a boyfriend as soon as he becomes intent on violating your personal boundaries can be painful, but not as painful as rape or coerced sex. Keeping a boy who ignores your needs and your boundaries means months maybe years of being without someone who really cares for you.

That's far lonelier than being without a boyfriend. And as long as you're attached to some inconsiderate boy, you don't have a chance of finding a more satisfying relationship.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:41 AM   1 comments links to this post

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Blogathon Against Torture Links

Well, the blogathon is over for 2006. I'll add my thanks to what was posted on the blog against torture.

From blogagainsttorture: Congrats! We Did It!

Thank you so much to everyone who volunteered their time - (in no particular order) Mash, Robbie, Ingrid, Per, Marcella, Bodda, Heretical Jew, Chuck, cyberotter...you've all been fantastic. Thanks also to our wonderful monitor, Barbara.

Of course, our second main goal was to raise money for Amnesty International USA, and so far we have officially raised an amazing $1157, all of which will go directly Amnesty USA.Thank you so much to all our sponsors - you have done a good deed by helping us out, and it is hugely appreciated.

Don't forget that we can still get sponsors up to 48 hours after the Blogathon finishes, so keep pestering everyone you know.

If you support the efforts of Amnesty International USA and you want to encourage a blogathon against torture 2007, please go to our blogathon sponsor page and become one of our sponsors.

Here are the posts for our Blogathon 2006 posts at Bloggers Against Torture:

Let the 2006 Blogathon Commence! by The Heathlander (posted at 5:56 a.m.)
Going After The Family by Mash (posted at 6:42 a.m.)
War Crimes Act of 1996 — Oops We Didn’t Mean Us by Marcella (posted at 7:02 a.m.)
Circumventing Article 3 and Other Atrocities by the Bush Administration by Robbie (posted at 7:33 a.m.)
Torture – What is the point? by cyberotter (8:04 AM)
The reason to have legal parameters of conduct with prisoners by Ingrid (8:33 AM)

Words Words Words, now..the visual by Ingrid (9:02 AM)
Meanwhile, Back In Guantanamo Bay Prison… by Robbie (9:34 AM)
The Internment of Juma Mohammed Abdul Latif Al Dossary by Robbie (10:11 AM)
We Have Ways Of Making You Talk!!! by Mash (10:31 AM)
The Iron Fist Fallacy by Marcella (11:00 AM)
I. Are They HUman? by Per (11:32 AM)

II. Do As You Are Done? by Per (12:01 PM)
III. Why? by Per (12:30 PM)
The US is Practicing Torture by Proxy Around the World by Heathlander (1:12 PM)
IV. Are You A Torturer Too? by Per (1:30 PM)
Torture & Extraordinary Rendition Flights Are a State Secret by Robbie (2:02 PM)
Dana Priest Appreciation Thread by Robbie (2:35 PM)

V. I confess: I am! by Per (3:00 PM)
VI. Civil and Human Rights? by Per (3:30 PM)
The War On Terrorism Exception To International Treaties by Mash (4:03 PM)
Jordan Is “Central Hub” of Secret Detention Centers by Robbie (4:33 PM)
Psychologists To Assist In Military Interrogations by Robbie (5:05 PM)
Abu Ghraib: The Las Vegas of Iraq by Marcella (5:30 PM)

Outlawed by Mash (6:03 PM)
VII. We Must Withstand! by Per (6:30 PM)
The Real World by Per (7:00 PM)
Dershowitz’s Arguments For The Legalisation of Torture are both Nonsensical and Unnecessary by The Heathlander (7:30 PM)
The Dark Prison by Mash (8:00 PM)
Support StopTheTorture.org by Robbie (8:42 PM)

Amnesty International: Hamdan v. Rumsfeld Action Letter Campaign by Robbie (9:03AM)
Living In A Post 9/11 World Means Living Outside The Bubble by Marcella (9:30 PM)
The Mentality of Torture by The Heretical Jew (10:00 PM)
Debunking The “Ticking Bomb” Argument For Torture by Mash (10:32 PM)
IX. HUman Beings are equal! by Per (11:00 PM)
VIII. The price is vulnerability by Per (11:30 PM)

Torture: It’s Fashionable in Belarus, Too by Robbie (12:01 AM)
Oath Betrayed: Torture, Medical Complicity, and the War on Terror by Robbie (12:33AM)
The Suffering Must Not Be Anonymous by The Heathlander (1:00 AM)
It Pisses Me Off by Chuck Cliff (1:30 AM)
Detainee 546 by Mash (2:00 AM)
Loose Change by Ingrid (2:30 AM)
Eyes wide shut by Bodda (2:41 AM)

You Know The United States Is In Deep Trouble… by Robbie (3:30 AM)
Amnesty International USA Critical of U.S. Human Rights Record by Robbie (4:01 AM)
Please call me by my true name by Per (4:30 AM)
In Tyrannis by Per (4:45 AM)
Psychology and U.S. psychologists in torture and war in the Middle East by Ingrid (4:50AM)
Torture FAQ by Bodda (5:00 AM)
If We Shouldn’t Torture What Should We Do Instead? by Marcella (5:32 AM)
not so random links by Bodda (5:45 AM)
Congrats! We Did It! by The Heathlander (6:00 AM)

As you have time (we'll give you more than 24 hours), go check out the posts written by a variety of bloggers.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:32 AM   1 comments links to this post

If We Shouldn't Torture What Should We Do Instead?

The last line of one of the other blogathon posts is: Violence is the last resort of the incompetent.

Since there is an absolute need to gather intelligence about potential future attacks so we have at least a shot at preventing more loss of innocent life, what option do we have besides torture?

The good news is that we aren't starting from scratch.

The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin: Criminal confessions: overcoming the challenges - interview and interrogation techniques discusses many of the legitimate concerns critics have about how confessions are obtained. This line is key:



If the investigative hunch or the supposition does not align with known facts, investigators always should follow the facts.
This article shows that with the proper training, many of the abuses and subsequent false confessions can be avoided, benefiting not only the suspect, but justice itself. But facts must always trump unproven fears. We must remember that coerced confessions are not the same as proven facts.

Washington Post: FBI Agents Allege Abuse of Detainees at Guantanamo Bay



The documents also make it clear that some personnel at Guantanamo Bay believed they were relying on authority from senior officials in Washington to conduct aggressive interrogations. One FBI agent wrote a memo referring to a presidential order that approved interrogation methods "beyond the bounds of standard FBI practice," although White House and FBI officials said yesterday that such an order does not exist.

and

An overall theme of the documents is a chasm between the interrogation techniques followed by the FBI and the more aggressive tactics used by some military interrogators. "We know what's permissible for FBI agents but are less sure what is permissible for military interrogators," one FBI official said in a lengthy e-mail on May 22, 2004. In another e-mail, dated Dec. 5, 2003, an agent complained about military tactics, including the alleged use of FBI impersonators. "These tactics have produced no intelligence of a threat neutralization nature to date and . . . have destroyed any chance of prosecuting this detainee," the agent wrote. "If this detainee is ever released or his story made public in any way, DOD interrogators will be not be held accountable because these torture techniques were done [by] the 'FBI' interrogators."

This article shows that there were established interrogation practices that didn't destroy any chance of prosecution. Rather than viewing these established techniques as too soft, we need to understand the immediate and long-term benefits of treating detainees ethically. The act of attempting to obscure the identity of the interrogators shows that those involved in the pretense knew their actions were unethical and that outside, neutral observers would agree.

They either don't know or don't care that it's a national security benefit to treat all suspects and detainees ethically.

The national security problems that existed before 9/11 weren't problems related to interrogation techniques. Because of that, no harsh interrogation technique will solve the problems that did exist before 9/11 and which needed to be corrected. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that only those trained in proper interrogation techniques should control interrogations and that prison guards should be given only the duty of guarding the prisoners.

To get better at physical and psychological torture is to get worse at protecting national security.

Each approved action should be made based on the knowledge that it will be applied to the guilty and the innocent and that all actions will eventually come to light.

Along with diligently attempting to stop violence in the planning stage, we need to work on prevention so fewer recruits will join with those who are dedicated to violence. That means dealing with complex issues like poverty and bigotry. And not just by so-called foreigners. We forget about domestic terrorism and violent crime at our own peril.

What if detainees, including all US prison inmates, were treated so humanely that they realized the anti-US propaganda had to be made up of nothing but lies?

We can win by continuously being dedicated defenders of human rights while taking all threats (internal and external to our country) seriously. Thanks to our system of checks and balances, we have a chance of legally and ethically removing those in power who don't respect the value of human life after birth.

Marcella

If We Shouldn’t Torture What Should We Do Instead? was written and first posted on the blogathon against torture to help raise money for Amnesty International USA.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:30 AM   0 comments links to this post

Living In A Post 9/11 World Means Living Outside The Bubble

To this current US administration, living in a post 9/11 world means they get to do whatever they want without worrying about pesky laws or ethics. Forget checks and balances -- that's so 1776. Their vision of this new world is one where they can exact pre-emptive revenge.

Many of the changes in law limiting civil liberties that were made in the name of 9/11 had been sitting just waiting for the right opportunity.

Yes, you read that right. Opportunity.

Most of us only saw the tragedy and mourned for every life lost or changed forever, but a few saw it as a political opportunity to get the consent of the congress and the public before the numbness wore off.

They suddenly had political capital and they couldn't spend it fast enough.

Because of my experience as a rape survivor and my volunteering as a victim advocate, the 9/11 attacks didn't make me suddenly realize people can and will do evil things. I already knew that and I knew too many people in the world, including Americans, didn't need a jihad to give them a reason kill innocent civilians.

That also made me skeptical of those who demanded my blind trust. To me "I'm simply looking out for your best interests" is one of the scariest phrases invented.

Ted Bundy and the Green River killer are just a couple of the men who killed far too many, far too close to where I was when they were on the loose. Two more killers have been in the news this last week. The first man kept pictures of women suspected of being his victims. And here's the second:

Friends Stunned by Colo. Killer's Crimes


Browne said he shot some of his victims and strangled others, in one case with a pair of leather shoelaces. He knocked out one woman with ether, then used an ice pick on her. He put a rag soaked in ant killer over another victim's face and stabbed her nearly 30 times with a screwdriver. Colorado authorities said Browne, 53, claimed to have committed the killings between 1970 and his arrest in 1995. Investigators so far have been able to corroborate Browne's claims in six slayings three in Louisiana, two in Texas and one in Arkansas, Colorado authorities said.

and

Court papers paint a picture of a predator who loathed women and thought he was justified in killing them because they were cheating on their husbands and boyfriends in many cases, with him. Browne, who has been married six times, said he has been disappointed with women his whole life. "Women are unfaithful, they screw around a lot, they cheat and they are not of the highest moral value," he told investigators. Browne apparently had at least one close female friend in Woods, now 50. Woods said she never saw a violent side in Browne, who lived around the corner from her in the 1980s. Woods said she remembered Browne as funny and caring, but with one strange habit: without warning, he would look deep into her eyes, and declare, "You're my friend."

"He always said it that way. It was so weird," Woods said.

With people like this, I have a hard time saying we Americans are all good and those who share a religion with the 9/11 hijackers are all bad. More importantly, I'd already learned how to live with the constant awareness of my own vulnerability.

Life outside of the bubble might be scary, but we can learn to live there without a constant sense of paranoia. We can learn to have compassion for those who at first glance seem no different than cold-blooded murderers and who seem to have nothing in common with good people like us.

We don't have to react to the shock of what we see outside the bubble with a desire to get those we fear before one of them can get us.

But just think of what would happen to innocent American men if we women started practicing pre-emptive self-defense against any stranger who takes our picture or against any man we know who looks into our eyes and tells us, "You're my friend."

Marcella

Living In A Post 9/11 World Means Living Outside The Bubble was written and first posted on the blogathon against torture to help raise money for Amnesty International USA.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:02 AM   1 comments links to this post

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Abu Ghraib: The Las Vegas of Iraq

From Media Matters:


... nationally syndicated talk-radio host Jay Severin criticized President Bush for calling the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal "a mistake," stating: "[W]e took terror prisoners, and we treated them essentially to a week in Las Vegas. I have to pay good money to have that done to me." Severin added of Abu Ghraib: "I didn't see anything that equates with torture being done in Abu Ghraib. ... [E]xplain to me what it is that was so terrible at Abu Ghraib, but the facts don't matter anymore, you know, they walked around naked. Big deal."
After reading this, I have to ask what Mr. Severin uses as his safe word. Obviously this man is into some really sick games.

It's absurdities like this that not only make me question people's morals, but make me question their intelligence. For example, waterboarding isn't something you do behind a speed boat on Lake Mead.

Donald Rumsfield may write "I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to four hours?" but he knows very well, or he should, that the comparison is absurd. Detainees are not given offices without chairs. What this implies is a deliberate PR spin, like that used in campaign ads to give the public a nice cozy feeling about actions that can easily turn deadly.

If the motive for torture is military intelligence then doing anything that threatens the life of the detainees threatens the ends being worked toward. If the detainees' lives are treated casually then we have no choice but to believe that the motive is NOT military intelligence.

To use the example from an earlier blogathon post, V. I confess: I am!


'You hold a terrorist who knows the location of a diffusable bomb which, if exploded, will kill x million people. Do you have the right to torture him/her to find the bomb?'
If we say yes, how do we justify killing the sources of information so valuable that ethics must be thrown out the window?

From Human Rights First


Most troubling among all of these cases are those we describe as detainees tortured to death, a number we put at 8-12. These are detainees who were beaten, suffocated, or otherwise died in circumstances meeting the definition of torture set out in the federal law banning the practice, which criminalizes acts “specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering.”
Each of these deaths represents a setback in the war on terror. Either because we are losing valuable information or because these people were tortured simply to make us feel safer.

It isn't just those who have been charged with abuse who need to answer for the deaths of detainees, it is also those who created the environment where abuse is something people would pay for on a Las Vegas getaway and those who will buy that analogy because to do otherwise would be depressing.

Marcella

Abu Ghraib: The Las Vegas of Iraq was written and first posted on the blogathon against torture to help raise money for Amnesty International USA.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:36 PM   0 comments links to this post

The Iron Fist Fallacy

This is my second post for the blogothon. [Thanks to everyone who has pledged. We have raised over $1000 for Amnesty International so far.]

Those who commit or support torture, either abroad, or in the US -- as I commented on in Chicago Police Allegedly Tortured During Interrogations -- are making the incorrect assumption that responding to terrorism or brutal crime with brute force will make us stronger and more secure.

While there are times when force is needed, the ego-driven use of force (we good, they evil) will backfire 99% of the time and can turn us into the type of brutes we call evil. Once we (whoever the we are) begin torturing, those involved need to rationalize like mad in order to maintain the illusion of "we good."

We also need to turn on those among us who point out the flaws in what we are doing. We call them traitors or enemy sympathizers even when they are attempting to keep us from crossing the line or attempting to get us back over the line. There's a reason whistleblowers need protection. They are vital to any open system that doesn't accept might makes right.

The irony is that when we are out of line and need whistleblowers the most, we can rationalize ourselves into hero status. To keep that illusion going the last thing we want is someone to shout out unvarnished truths about our actions.

So what should replace torture? Simply eliminating torture won't do the trick. As many police forces have learned, crime prevention, community involvement programs combined with ethical treatment of suspects can do more to reduce crime than turning an area into a police state ever can.

If the only or most promising career path is crime, entering the U.S. illegally or terrorism, then a larger number of people are going to choose those options.

We all benefit (the good and the evil) by treating even the most evil people with respect for their humanity (and our own) and with a clear and fair accountability for all criminal or unethical behaviors.

But if the current iron fist policies seem to be working, why should we fix something that ain't broke?

We need to fix the problem before the iron fists contribute to further escalation of the violence. As police forces have learned, new criminals pop up as quickly as the "scum" are swept off the street. As many U.S. cities have also learned, one violent incident by the police in areas that feel attacked by the police can set off a riot.

Freedom may be messy, but true freedom isn't moments of anarchy punctuated by moments of brute force.

Think about it this way, if you were in the group or area that has been labeled evil, how would you want the good people to treat you? The answer to this question matters because the truth is that we are all in a group or area that somebody sees as evil.

Marcella

The Iron Fist Fallacy was written and first posted on the blogathon against torture to help raise money for Amnesty International USA.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 5:58 PM   1 comments links to this post

War Crimes Act of 1996 -- Oops We Didn't Mean Us

Here's the content of my first blogathon post:

As part of the Torture Awareness Month in June I wrote a post called Top 5 Reasons Why Torture Is Un-American

At the time I didn't realize that not only was it un-American, it was illegal according to U.S. law. Apparently some administration officials didn't realize it either.

From the Washington Post


An obscure law approved by a Republican-controlled Congress a decade ago has made the Bush administration nervous that officials and troops involved in handling detainee matters might be accused of committing war crimes, and prosecuted at some point in U.S. courts.

Senior officials have responded by drafting legislation that would grant U.S. personnel involved in the terrorism fight new protections against prosecution for past violations of the War Crimes Act of 1996. That law criminalizes violations of the Geneva Conventions governing conduct in war and threatens the death penalty if U.S.-held detainees die in custody from abusive treatment. (emphasis mine)

If this law is changed to pardon Americans, including officials who ordered others to violate the Geneva Conventions, it will send a message loud and clear to other countries around the world. And it won't be a good message. It tells the world that what really changed after 9/11 is our ethics.

How long will it take for "Give us your poor and huddled masses, yearning to be free." to turn into:

Give us your poor and huddled masses, yearning to be free -- and we'll interrogate (torture) them to find out how they are planning to destroy our country.

War Crimes Act of 1996 -- Oops We Didn't Mean Us was written and first posted on the blogathon against torture to help raise money for Amnesty International USA.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:36 AM   0 comments links to this post

Behind The Accusation of Sexism Against Those Who Fight Violence Against Women

As soon as I finished my last post, For Those Who Don't Believe A Man Can Rape His Wife, I thought about why some people assume those of us who fight sexual violence and all forms of violence again women are anti-male.

It has very little to do with logic.

One of the places I've seen for this assumption reinforced comes from a typical interaction over this subject. When it's face to face, it can go something like this:

Man (marching up to woman who advocates for victims of domestic violence or rape): Men are victims just as often as women. Why won't you admit that half of all women who make rape allegations are bold-faced liars?

Woman: While some men are victims, the statistics and research show that women are the victims in nearly 3 out of 4 murders committed by intimate partners. As for the number of false--

Man (cutting her off mid-sentence): You're sexist. Admit it.

The conversation usually gets worse from there or it ends abruptly.

On anti-violence blogs, men who make similar assumptions often come across as trolls. These men rarely get a friendly response to their claims that speaking out against sexual violence equals sexism. Quite a few of these men assume they are getting an unwelcoming response simply because they are men rather than because they said or did something offensive.

In most cases the unwelcoming response occurs because the man's words make him sound like just another in a long line of bullies attempting to silence and blame women while minimizing the harm violent men inflict on women and children.

The same pattern can develop in non-gender specific ways. Religious people who blame rape victims for luring their rapists may believe the backlash is caused by the blamers religion (Christianity, Islam, etc.) rather than bias so deeply entrenched that it might as well be a religious belief.

Whenever entrenched beliefs collide with attempts to permanently change the status quo, there will be conflict. The only thing we can control individually is how we deal with that conflict.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:03 AM   3 comments links to this post

Friday, July 28, 2006

For Those Who Don't Believe A Man Can Rape His Wife

WCCO

Upon arriving at the scene, officers found a woman lying on the floor of a bedroom with a large amount of blood around her head. According to the criminal complaint, police said "her head had so many lacerations and so much blood on it, her face was hard to identify as a human head."

and

Doctors have performed surgery on the victim and expect her to survive. The woman may suffer brain damage and may lose one of her eyes. Doctors also said the victim had been raped and that she had received multiple lacerations to her face and genital area.

For too many people it takes this level of violence before they will even consider that a real rape happened between a husband and his wife. Those who dismiss less severe sexual assaults, or who say that women have no moral right to leave their husbands, contribute to the rationalizations that can lead to this extreme violence.

Most rapists don't begin their violence with acts like this. They begin with acts that too many people either ignore or minimize. When people explicitly or implicitly support even lower levels of violence (husbands have a right to their wives bodies so it's never rape), perpetrators see it as approval of their actions.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 4:15 PM   2 comments links to this post

Reminders

Tomorrow is the blogathon against torture (6 am PDT Sat. - 6 am PDT Sun.) at http://blogagainsttorture.blogspot.com/ to raise money for Amnesty International. I'll be one of the posters so come cheer us on and make a donation if you can.

The deadline for the 4th edition of the carnival against sexual violence is tomorrow night so you have a day and a half to nominate a post. So far I don't have any nominations in the personal experience or the creative expression categories. Look for what will be another enlightening mix of posts on Aug. 1.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:27 AM   1 comments links to this post

Women Gain When Men Wrongly Accused of Rape Are Freed

Womens eNews (hat tip to The Vagina Warrior)

The leading cause of wrongful convictions--playing a factor in about 75 percent of the exoneration cases--is eyewitness misidentification. The day after Alan Newton was exonerated in the Bronx, a member of a "men's advocacy" group called our office. He wasn't calling to help Newton find a job or offering other support to him, as many others have. He wanted to know why the Innocence Project doesn't pursue perjury charges against rape survivors who identify the wrong man.

Aside from the patently offensive notion of putting rape survivors on trial, the truth is that eyewitness misidentification is often the result of flawed law enforcement techniques that lead crime victims to identify a suspect who police already presume is guilty.

This call to prosecute rape victims is one of the reasons I'm skeptical that "men's advocacy" groups are advocating for true fairness rather than attempting to keep rape victims and victims of domestic abuse from reporting what happened to them or being treated with any respect if they do report.

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

Thursday, July 27, 2006

A Must Read Response From Duke Official

From Richard H. Brodhead's response to an open letter sent by a group supporting the accused player's claim of innocence regarding Duke's response to the Duke Lacrosse alleged rape case, published by NBC 17

You say that "at this point, no fair-minded person could any longer believe that a rape occurred" and, accordingly, you chide the University for not supporting the players more aggressively. But as you yourself recognize, "the university can express no opinion about the ultimate outcome of pending legal matters." I am well aware that, after many weeks of media stories that made it seem almost self-evidently true that a rape had occurred, recent stories have offered extensive evidence exonerating the indicted students and questioning the legitimacy of the case. But the University does not have direct access to the full truth of the case now any more than we did earlier, and we can't speak with certainty of matters that only the criminal justice system can resolve.

and

You also voice the perception that the University has been complicit in scapegoating members of the lacrosse team. I recognize the gravity of the charge, but I do not agree with it. It was the party that the men’s lacrosse team held on the night of March 13 that precipitated the subsequent avalanche of publicity and notoriety.

This second point is one that all of those screaming, "False allegation!" very conveniently forget, not only in this case but in many other rape cases. It's a point that's easily forgotten in cases that fall under the guise of he (they) said/she said. Even the most troubling undisputed actions taken by the accused are dismissed either as boys will be boys or the lame "mistakes were made."

I believe this case is still very much alive.

Here are a few of my previous posts about the handling of this case:

Duke Rape Case: Defense, you spin me round
Admissibility of Duke rape victim's prior sexual assault report
Duke Rape Case and the Game of Telephone
Duke rape polygraph
Duke Rape Case: Prosecutor Losing the PR war?

Note for those thinking about commenting to tell me what an idiot I am:
You're welcome to write whatever you want about my position or about how these "boys" are being victimized -- on your own blog. This blog (including the comments) is for those who care about victims and survivors of rape and sexual violence, not for those who are indifferent at best to most forms of rape and sexual violence.

For those who assume that caring about rape victims, means not caring about suspect and defendant rights, please read these posts before making your own false allegation.

Ethical interrogations and the rape victim
DNA Clears Conn. Man Convicted of Rape
Wrongfully Convicted Man Freed
If False, Sex Abuse Allegations May Be Symptom of Alleged Victim's ...
Date Rape As Nothing More Than Morning After Regret

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:53 AM   1 comments links to this post

Searching For Angela Shelton - Lifetime TV Version

If you missed the Lifetime TV version of Searching for Angela Shelton, you can now watch it online.

Angela Shelton: Watch the one hour version

I highly recommend it.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:04 AM   0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Prostitution And The Power Of Positive Thinking

On Alas, a blog: In Which I Call A Truce On The Sex Wars Thing Cicily wrote in the comments:

My point was that for some women prostitution, set among other options, isn’t as bad as some people might think. A lot depends on one’s attitude to it, not to mention other peoples attitudes to it.
This statement totally ignores the verbal, sexual and physical violence that goes hand in hand for most of those who are prostituted.

For those who rely on popular societal messages to form their opinions about prostitution the assumption about the women involved is simple. Most of the victimization is self-inflicted. In fact, Cicily's statement reinforces the idea many people have that those who pay for sex aren't hurting anybody and it is those who can be bought (for sex or just for dancing) who are the dangerous ones. It also makes those who say they were traumatized by this "business" seem like they react like victims only because they have a bad attitude or a poor work ethic or are in need of a scapegoat.

Rather than believing that a person's attitude determines whether a situation is good or bad, I believe people use attitude as a way to cope with what happens to them and how they choose to treat others. Those coping skills and rationalizations get dangerous when they are used to excuse the exploitation of others or when they subject the person to more danger.

Some who are exploited decide that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em and help keep the exploitive system going. I would say it is these people who appear to have the best attitude about what they do.

So what's the reality for those who don't have any easy ways out of prostitution?

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. In one of the first studies of health problems of women who have been trafficked, they found 95 percent had been physically or sexually abused and nearly 40 percent had suicidal thoughts.

When we think of sex trafficking, we often think only of international victims, but it isn't nationality or distance that causes trauma, it is what people have to endure. In many situations where the victim isn't under the physical control of a pimp 24/7, the victim may not know of any reliable means of escape.

To many people, who really should know better, the idea of control that doesn't require constant physical control seems unbelievable. We may need the illusion that we can't be controlled with anything less than brute strength.

By now everyone should understand that Elizabeth Smart didn't know she had a safe way out. But Nancy Grace asked absurd questions including, "Did your kidnappers tell you they would hurt you or your family if you tried to get away?" The underlying question seemed to be, "Why did you stay?" If that attitude persists despite the fact that everybody knows this was a horrific situation, what chance do the sexually trafficked have of gaining the understanding, support and help they need?

What the study tells us is that in too many cases men are paying to contribute to the torture of girls and women even if they are rationalizing that it's just meaningless sex.

Torture will never be meaningless to me. Never.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:26 AM   1 comments links to this post

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Fifty Missing Women Linked To Jailed Man

CBS News

Homicide investigators are trying to find at least 50 women they have linked to a man who is in prison for killing two women in the early 1980s, officials said. A sheriff's department statement said they may have been rape or homicide victims between 1975 and 1984.

and

Homicide investigators are trying to find at least 50 women they have linked to a man who is in prison for killing two women in the early 1980s, officials said. A sheriff's department statement said they may have been rape or homicide victims between 1975 and 1984.

This is a reminder about why so many of us keep harping about sexual violence when many of our critics tell us we should get over it already and stop pestering men about how they treat women.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 4:06 PM   0 comments links to this post

If You Victimize Someone And They Don't Know It, Is It A Victimless Crime?

WCCO

Investigators said Ostrander installed a camera in the bathroom about 18 months ago with a hookup into his bedroom, using it to videotape 12- and 13-year-old girls. Ostrander's wife discovered a live feed from the bathroom camera while changing channels on a television in their bedroom in mid-July, police said. The couple's teenage daughter and a friend located the camera behind a floral arrangement and the friend and her mother notified authorities.In a search of the home, authorities said they found child pornography and eight tapes containing nude images of girls using the shower and tub. Authorities said they have identified four victims so far.

For most offenders who use hidden cameras to take pictures like these, the answer would likely be yes, it is a victimless crime. Unless they get caught -- and then they are the victim.

I suspect that most rape apologists and victim blamers would agree and consider those of us who see this as a serious offense as uptight prudes or they would see the criminal as a victim of our sex-obsessed society.

What this type of sex crime makes clear is that it is all about the perpetrator. That's true even when the crime involves physical contact. Victim blaming serves as a distraction from the real cause of sex crimes -- the decisions and actions of the perpetrator.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:04 AM   3 comments links to this post

Monday, July 24, 2006

Woman Faked Pregnancy, Confirmed Belief Of Those Who ...

... believe pregnancy is nothing more than a way for women to get money and gifts which confirms the belief that most announced pregnancies are false and that "miscarriages" are lies 99% of the time.

No, wait. To take a single case like the following from ABC News:


The couple is at the center of an alleged hoax involving miracle sextuplets. It began last winter when Sarah made a shocking announcement -- she was pregnant with six babies.

And to use it as if it represents all pregnancy announcements and to go beyond the scope of that case in the generalization would be seen as utter nonsense. Wouldn't it?

So why does anyone use a single fabrication of rape (or even a single case where there's a claim that the rape is no more than a fabrication) to prove something about all claims of rape?

And why do some people believe the anti-victim generalizations about rape charges -- and assume most girls and women who report rapes to the police are liars? Is it that it's easier to believe that most reported rapes are fake than it is to believe that rape is common?

Denial can make the world look safer than it is. Many people are lucky enough to never know firsthand how common rape really is. But denial turns ugly when people don't wait for confirmation by law enforcement to announce that a claim is a deliberate lie.

Sometimes the announcement of the "lie" comes out as soon as the story breaks with the sketchiest of details. When this happens those declaring a lie are revealing their biases. Too many people view girls and women as the only ones with the duty to stop the boy or man from having sex. To them any woman who has even the briefest acquaintance with the rapist must have lured the man into sin.

We know men's brains and free will don't actually disengage when they see someone they want. Don't we?

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:37 AM   0 comments links to this post

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Lawyers debate 'gay panic' defense

AP

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Prosecutors said Thursday they want to limit the use of "gay panic" defenses - where defendants claim their crimes were justified because of fear or anger over their victims' sexual orientation. "The suggestion that criminal conduct is mitigated by bias or prejudice is inappropriate," said San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, who organized a two-day national conference on the issue. "We can't outlaw it, but we can combat it."

Lawmakers in California and New York are considering bills to deter the common courtroom strategy of making a victim's sexual orientation central to a criminal defense. Both measures would require judges to remind jurors that bias toward the victim cannot influence their deliberations. California's bill also would instruct juries that gay panic defenses are inconsistent with state laws protecting gays, lesbians and transgenders from discrimination.

This defense seems like another effort to turn motive into an excuse.

For me the only time a motive should be seen as a possible defense is when it relates to self-defense as in cases that truly fit within battered spouse syndrome.

With DNA evidence, we may see more defense teams attempt to find fancy names for what is in essence victim blaming for crimes other than rape.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:19 AM   1 comments links to this post

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Rape And Murder As Stress Relief

Washington Post

Attorneys for Army soldiers accused of raping an Iraqi teenager and killing her and her family in March are planning to argue that the men were under extreme emotional distress because of the horrors of their combat assignment and will probably challenge the alleged confessions some of the soldiers gave to investigators in Iraq. David Sheldon, a civilian lawyer who is representing Spec. James P. Barker, said yesterday that B Company, 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment was devastated by numerous combat casualties and repeated violent attacks in and around Mahmudiyah before and after a group of soldiers allegedly attacked the Iraqi family March 12. Sheldon said the men were placed at a traffic checkpoint "in one of the most stressful environments imaginable" and that commanders failed to recognize the damage that was being done to the soldiers.
I hope nobody buys this defense. Rape should never be accepted as a valid stress reliever. Neither should premeditated murder.

If anybody does buy this defense then Iraqi insurgents who murder Americans (soldiers, reporters, contract workers, etc) and their fellow Iraqi civilians can claim the same defense since having your home country invaded causes extreme emotional distress.

We'd have to call it Shock-And-Awe syndrome.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:15 AM   2 comments links to this post

Friday, July 21, 2006

Hate Crimes: What Are They? And Who Can Be Charged For Them?

I was working on this post when I saw this: Alas, a blog: On Hate Crime Statutes

From Alas, here's Ampersand's response to a comment on another post that advocated for the elimination of the hate crime designation:



I think Plunky's analysis is mistaken, because it ignores that many "hate crimes" are crimes not just against an individual, but also against an entire community. If I build a small campfire and roast some hot dogs on Woody Allen's lawn because I'm hungry, that should be recognized as a different crime from burning a cross on Woody's lawn because I want to tell all the area Jews that they might be assaulted or killed if they don't move out.
The post continues from there and I recommend reading the whole post.

Now onto what I was working on before seeing the post that references Plunky's comment:

The call for the elimination of hate crime statutes is a popular position with many conservatives since they seem to believe the designation is anti-white, anti-male and anti-Christian since most of those convicted of hate crimes are white Christian men.

So why, as some opponents of hate-crime statutes argue, shouldn't, "Each crime should be judged solely on its own merits" and not viewed on a larger scale?

The problem with this attitude is that true hate crimes are motivated by ongoing anger at a group (gay, black, homeless, etc) and pose -- by their very definition -- a greater public safety risk than non-hate crimes.

What got me thinking about this subject was a case where the person charged and convicted of a hate crime wasn't white:

CNN: Homeless man convicted of hate crime murder

WHITE PLAINS, New York (AP) -- A homeless convicted rapist who told police he stabbed a woman to death because she was white was convicted Tuesday of murder as a hate crime.
Jurors found Phillip Grant guilty of second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon.
Grant, who is black, had admitted killing Concetta Russo-Carriero, 56, last June in a mall parking garage. "As long as she had blond hair and blue eyes, she had to die," Grant said on a videotaped statement to police, which was shown at the trial. "I have no remorse whatsoever because she was white."
Just as someone convicted of driving over a curb and striking a pedestrian simply because that person appears to be gay is a greater risk to society than someone who takes the same action against a specific person they know and hate for personal reasons, this man poses a larger risk.

Hate crimes tend to be systemic crimes since there doesn't need to be any build up of motivation before they re-offend. People who commit hate crimes may have a superiority complex and feel they have the right to punish members of inferior groups. Or they could feel they've been wronged by another group and be seeking revenge.

In a hate crime, something as benign as blond hair can set the crime in motion.

Someone who has a sense of violent entitlement, for whatever reason, is very dangerous as shown by the number of unprovoked attacks on gays or people who look gay. The resistance I've seen to viewing crimes like this as hate crimes often come down to the speaker's own bias against one or more of the groups that are most likely to be the targets of hate crimes and/or their unwillingness to empathize with anyone except the attacker facing stiffer penalties in these types of cases.

The murder cases committed by released felons that often get conservatives riled about how we're being soft on crime seem to me to be a form of hate crimes. Many times these felons were convicted of violent rape or of attempts to commit rapes that are clearly violent in nature. But because the original crime was judged purely on it's own merits, the person was given a lighter sentence than his pattern of behavior warrants. The motivation for a person like this is persistent and he only needs an opportunity to reoffend.

Many times those who are most strident against identifying true hate crimes and prosecuting them as such, come across to me as backhanded cheerleaders. They will say or write something like, "Of course I don't condone violence, but ..."

What usually follows is a negative characterization of the chosen victims or an excusing of the perpetrator. This action reinforces the belief held by those who commit hate crimes that they are only doing what so many others don't have the courage to do. And if they attack enemies of a person or group that paints itself as righteous, they may find themselves allied with people who will go to the press explaining how this person isn't a natural criminal.

The victim or intended victim will then be painted as the real perpetrator.

This happened after Eric Rudolf, the Atlanta Olympics bomber and the man who killed a police officer, bombed an abortion clinic. He had ties to a pro-life activist who denies knowing or influencing Rudolf. Others said they didn't condone violence, but reportedly contributed to his legal defense fund.

CNN: Rudolph Sentencing

In an extensive statement before his sentencing, Rudolph said the bombings were part of a guerrilla campaign against abortion, "the homosexual agenda" and the U.S. government. He said he had "nothing personal" against Lyons or Sanderson, but targeted them "for what they did" at the clinic.
Crimes committed for a so-called moral belief, are dangerous enough that the context must be taken into account when determining how long the person found guilty should stay in prison. To do otherwise is to send a very dangerous message to those who are rationalizing their own pattern of violence.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:09 AM   5 comments links to this post

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Carnival Against Child Abuse #2 is up!

It's over at Survivors Can Thrive, go check it out.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 4:22 PM   2 comments links to this post

Chicago Police Allegedly Tortured During Interrogations

AP


The four-year investigation focused on allegations that 148 black men were tortured in Chicago police interrogation rooms in the 1970s and '80s. The men claimed detectives under the command of Lt. Jon Burge beat them, used electric shocks, played mock Russian roulette and started to smother at least one to elicit confessions. No one has ever been charged, but Burge was fired after a police board found he had abused a suspect in custody. His attorney has said Burge never tortured anyone. The report released Wednesday also faulted procedures followed by the Cook County State's Attorney's office and the police department at the time of the alleged abuse, saying they were "inadequate in some respects" but had since improved.
I'm glad this issue was investigated. It's no wonder so many groups continue to view the police with suspicion and mistrust. If this problem was that widespread in Chicago, I can't imagine how many other men were tortured in the name of law enforcement around the country.

Unfortunately, the stereotypes that made police detectives feel they had the right to "get tough" with certain suspects in order to get the results they wanted aren't gone.

This information on police misconduct makes me more concerned than ever about the ability to trust that the the death penalty is being applied only to those guilty as charged and without bias toward those most vulnerable to being abused by the system that is supposed to protect us all.

Update:

In response to a comment asking why I, as a rape victim, don't want these terrible men off the street, I posted a long comment that expands on my beliefs on this subject.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:32 AM   6 comments links to this post

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Carnival of the Liberals #17 is Up!

At Brainshrub and my post on the "Hadji Girl" song was included.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 3:11 PM   1 comments links to this post

Rape and Sexual Harrassment by Military Personnel: Fluke or Systemic?

In response to the news coverage of the alleged rape and murder of an Iraqi girl, I've been reading posts by people asking why the media is only publicizing the one bad action among a million great actions being taken by our military.

But of the actions being taken by soldiers, are the criminal ones really that rare? And is there any indication that the stress of battle is what makes American soldiers rape when they are in a war zone?

First, I'll link back to my post on the Naval Academy rape case. That shows that sexual assaults within the US military are not a product of war even though some happen in war zones. And as the saying goes, begin as you mean to go on.

Then we have the romanticizing, in song, of the slaughter of an entire Iraqi family. Dehumanizing families until you can sing a fun song about their deaths isn't caused by stress, it's a reflection of what the songwriter believes. It tells us how supposedly good soldiers can rationalize war crimes.

But many conservative pundits came out in defense of this song, labeling the victims insurgents who set a trap for the American soldier. What this tells soldiers who have slaughtered civilians is that their actions, which some see as war crimes, are instead acts of heroism. They are merely enjoying the process of cleansing Iraq of evildoers.

I've also read the backhand defense of rapes committed by American soldiers through the description of what Saddam allowed his soldiers to do. But to me the "We're no worse than Saddam" line of defense makes as much sense as Americans during WWII saying "We're no worse than Hitler." When you go to war against an axis of evil, you'd darn well be so far better than your enemy that any comparison is ludicrious. The "They did it first" argument is nothing less than sickening.

Laikoa: US Military and Rape -- Covering Up Crimes, Punishing Victims

Between 2002 and 2005, the US military had a 68% increase in the reporting of sexual assault and rape cases. This might be due to more attention being given to the problem, both from Congress and the Pentagon.However, only 342 of the 1,700 cases reported in 2004 led to punitive action. That's a dismal 20%.
Democracy Now: Mother of Sexually Harassed Soldier Recounts Ordeal as Daughter Remains Confined to Base

We move now from a case of U.S soldiers raping and killing an Iraqi teenager and her family to a case of U.S officers preying on their own. Last month, Army Specialist Suzanne Swift was arrested in Eugene, Oregon for refusing to return to fight in Iraq. Swift served in Iraq for a year but decided she could not return and went AWOL. Swift said her superiors repeatedly sexually harassed her while serving in Iraq.

and

[female soldier's mother:] What I didn't know was the first thing that happened when she set foot on foreign soil is, these two sergeants, especially, began hunting her in a way, kind of predatory. The platoon sergeant asked her to go for a ride in his jeep. And she got in the jeep, and he turned to her and said, “You want to have sex with me, don't you, Swift?” except he said it in a very rude, derogatory, nasty way. And she said she was so scared that she just froze and didn't know what to do.

So she went to her equal opportunity officer and tried to tell him what happened. And he basically dismissed her and told her he didn't believe her, and it was -- you know, nothing was going to happen from it. So, from then on, she didn't feel safe. She -- kind of what it did is it was like a green light for other people to start stalking and proposing sex, harassing, doing all of those things, because they knew she wasn’t going to be protected by the platoon sergeant or the equal opportunity officer.

If this case occurred in isolation, I might dismiss it as an excuse or a fluke. But when you combine it with the sexually toxic environment that makes women soldiers avoid drinking water late in the day to reduce the danger of being raped by fellow American soldiers, the problem looks more systemic and nothing that can be dismissed as misreading signals.

Alternet: The Fear That Kills

The latrine for female soldiers at Camp Victory wasn't located near their barracks, so they had to go outside if they needed to use the bathroom. "There were no lights near any of their facilities, so women were doubly easy targets in the dark of the night," Karpinski told retired U.S. Army Col. David Hackworth in a September 2004 interview. It was there that male soldiers assaulted and raped women soldiers. So the women took matters into their own hands. They didn't drink in the late afternoon so they wouldn't have to urinate at night. They didn't get raped. But some died of dehydration in the desert heat, Karpinski said.
This attitude -- outside and within the military -- where people acknowledge rape only when an incident makes the news and the details are so abhorant that the crime becomes undeniable, fosters the belief in many soldiers that the only real crime is getting caught or picking the wrong victim.

And now this.

Raw Story

A number of groups concerned with the problem of sexual assault in the US Armed Forces, along with Rep. Louise Slaughter, a Democrat from New York, had called for the creation of an "Office of Victim Advocate" within Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's office. A contracted study submitted by researchers at the Wellesley College Centers for Women on the establishment of the office had been considered within the Pentagon, but a brief report in the Washington
Times
on July 7 indicated that the proposal had been shot down within the Defense Department.
So for now at least the answer seems to be that the problem is systemic, but effective responses to the problem will be left to fluke status.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:11 AM   1 comments links to this post

Carnival For Book Writers #3

Welcome to the 3rd edition of carnival for book writers.

craft

In Liz on Truth and Fiction posted at Squawk Radio, discusses the reasons and ramifications of mixing real facts with made up facts in fiction.

In What About Those Alpha Guys? posted at Running With Quills, we get insights from bestselling author, Lori Foster.

editors

In The Truth According to Me posted at Buried in the Slush Pile, presents some of the things this editor looks for in books she acquires. Although she generally focuses on children's books, these are relevant to all fiction writers.

In Lights, Markers, Action: My Interview with Nan Talese posted at New York Brain Terrain, presents an interview with the senior vice president of Doubleday and the publisher and editor-in-chief at the Nan A. Talese/Doubleday imprint of Random House.

literary agents


An excellent multi-part series begins with Agenting 101 (part one) posted at Pub Rants
Agenting 101 (part two)
Agenting 101 (Grant of Rights--part three)
Agenting 101 (Advance--part four)
Agenting 101 (Payout--part five)
Agenting 101 (Royalties--part six)
Agenting 101 (Royalties--part six--continued)
Agenting 101 (Bonus--part seven)
Agenting 101 (Bonus Clarification)

At In praise of literary agents posted at Kirsten Mortensen, consideration is given to how agents respond to author mistakes.

In What can you expect from an agent? posted at Urban Fantasy, an author in the first year of being agents shares lessons learned.

In What is an Unsolicited Submission? posted at Miss Snark, the meaning of this term is clarified.

whatever

In How To Make Almost $2000 By Writing One Article posted at PrizeWriter, we get advice for other ways besides books to make money from our writing.

In Some Trade Show Observations posted at The Writing Life, an author and editor shares what he learned from the Christian Booksellers Association trade show.

In The Literary Red Carpet posted at MJ in L.A., there's a new twist in author promotion.

In 16 Do's and Don'ts For Authors posted at The Man in Black, provides tips that help make the most of your relationship with your editor and agent.

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of carnival for book writers
using our carnival submission form.

Links to past editions and information about future editions can be found at http://carnivalforbookwriters.blogspot.com

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:01 AM   1 comments links to this post

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

What's The Problem With Women Being Sexually Submissive?

Bitch Lab: On Fire

What some people do in this debate is insist that some acts can only be read and experienced as degrading because they are culturally defined as such. This is what Amanda wanted to do in the original Blow Job War. It was fine to talk about your own personal experience but somehow you were being disingenuous if you didn’t acknowledge the wider context within which the meaning of blow jobs circulate. But that suggests, again, that the meanings surrounding blow jobs are monolithic in this culture. It’s simply not clear that this is the case.

The problem is that, human beings -- and this is pretty well documented in social science literature -- are simply not passive dupes of any cultural system. Ever. Not only do we know of other societies where sexual activities aren't defined that way (which means there is no meaning *in* the blow job itself, thus its meaning is malleable), we can document in our own society how people adopt a range of understandings of these activities.

To defend women's right to perform submissive sex acts without talking about rape and sexual abuse as the root of the degradation is like supporting women's right to be as thin as they can be without talking about anorexia and all of pressures that contribute to the push toward thinness.

Many of the acts that get so hotly debated are acts which are frequently forced on girls and women. As long as that's true, many women will have negative associations with those actions. If we want to eliminate the negative associations, the first step needs to be eliminating the true cause of the negative association.

Unwanted sexual contact.

Those who exploit others sexually and who say they did nothing wrong because they are just doing what everyone else is doing are the closest we have to cultural dupes. The same goes for those who expect women to embrace pleasuring a man in certain ways without considering whether the act is actually physically and emotionally pleasurable for that particular woman.

Making a man happy isn't, and shouldn't be, reward enough.

Rather than debating whether women can be liberated personally and submissive sexually, we should be thinking about how to help make the goal of allowing every girl and woman to freely make the choices about what type of sexual contact she wants and doesn't want -- while respecting the rights of other people -- a reality.

Update:

Since my response to Bitch Lab's post seems to be misunderstood (read Lab Bitch's comments and my reply to that response), I thought it would be helpful to include LB's definition of Sex positive feminism:

[SPF] involves a disparate group of people who share one thing in common: a rejection of universalizing claims about women’s (and men’s) sexuality such that one’s sexual practices — whether you hate sex, wank off to donkey porn, ride your cowboy or cowgirl and put her/him away wet, are asexual, like to dress up like Superman and leap off the top of the dresser on to your partner below [1] — do not prove or disprove your feminist street cred."

Unfortunately, this definition fails to exclude those who enjoy sexually abusing others. Those who support this movement may assume this exclusion is understood by all. It isn't.

My point was and still is that any assertion that says "whatever floats your boat" without addressing rape, sex abuse and sexual exploitation will cause some people to resist that assertion. It doesn't help that this sex positive statement echoes in many ways what some of us have heard from abusive men. They could have whatever they wanted and we shouldn't cramp their style or say they aren't great guys.

Rather than seeing any resistance to sex positiveness as irrational, it may help to understand that even extreme reactions are quite rational, but possibly outside of the other person's range of experience.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 5:41 PM   8 comments links to this post

Cristo Lumen: Real Christians Don't Gay Bash

Cristo Lumen: Real Christians Don't Gay Bash

The only modification I'd make is to modify the title to: Real Christians Don't Gay Bash Out of Obedience To God.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 3:02 PM   0 comments links to this post

Sanctity Of Parental Rights & PAS

Washington Post


Pro-family groups are united in believing that parents should decide what is best for their children.
This sentence supports the rights of parents to deny their daughters a HPV vaccine that reduces the chances that those daughters will get cervical cancer. On the surface this idea of the sanctity of parental control may sound good, but get behind the facade and you'll see that this statement also implies something very disturbing.

What happens in the family stays in the family.

The problem with an absolute belief in the statement quoted above is it puts the rights of the leader of the family unit (the father of course) above the rights and safety of the children.

For far too long, people looked away from child abuse and domestic violence because it was seen as a family matter rather than a child safety matter. While families are important, there is a real danger of buying the myth that having a mother and a father living together while legally married makes all children safe as long as they are protected from outside threats.

Like most areas of debate, the best solution is one that balances many concerns and ignores none of them.

Shortly before the Washington Post article came out, I saw a press release related to Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) which documents the rejection of this syndrome as valid science and exposes it as a myth created to make children's testimony of parental abuse sound like nothing more substantial than brainwashing.

This so-called syndrome fits neatly into the idea that the leader of the family should have full control of the members of the family and any resistance to that control should be seen as abhorrent behavior.

There are dangers when law enforcement personnel interview young children. This is why many in law enforcement have taken training in how to get testimony without leading the child into giving certain answers or harassing the child because of the interviewing officer's disbelief in the merits of the case.

Back to the HPV vaccine, it's a little too easy for many fathers who aren't abusive to dismiss the dangers girls and women face, sometimes on a daily basis, that pose no substantial risk to men. And because they underestimate the dangers, they may overestimate their ability to protect their daughters.

This can be a deadly mistake.

The same is true of family court officials who assume that PAS exists and then give children into the custody of the parent who has been accused of committing child abuse.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:02 AM   0 comments links to this post

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Rise of Jane Crow Laws

Washington Post: A Medical Crisis of Conscience -- Faith Drives Some To Refuse Patients Medication or Care (hat tip to toaaw)

Proponents of a "right of conscience" for health workers argue that there is nothing more American than protecting citizens from being forced to violate their moral and religious values.

and

The clash resurfaced with antiabortion pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions for the morning-after pill. But recent interviews with dozens of health-care workers, patients, advocates, ethicists, legal experts and religious and medical authorities make it clear that the issue is far broader. Many health-care workers are asserting a right of conscience in many settings.

This so-called "right of conscience" is an attempt to institute a prettied up version of Jim Crow laws. Those with the most power want the right to discriminate at will. It might have started with the refusal to give birth control (which some mistakenly call abortion), but it doesn't end there.

What if someone with a "right of conscience" becomes an election judge? Will that person believe they have the right to refuse to let certain people vote? If pharmicists shouldn't be forced to violate their moral and religious values, election judges shouldn't be forced to violate them either, right? Ditto for property managers and employers.

If people can't do a particular job -- that abides by all applicable laws -- without violating their conscience, they should find another job. Nobody forced a pharmicist, a nurse, a doctor, or any other health care provider to enter their profession and their current job.

Yeah, their jobs would be perfect if it weren't for their scummy patients.

These "right of conscience" people either don't know or don't care that many of the people they want to refuse to give service to weren't given the same choices. Rape victims seeking emergency contraception didn't choose to be raped.

Washington Post: Seeking Care, and Refused

Cheryl Bray, 42, a real estate broker in Encinitas, Calif., was flabbergasted that a family practitioner turned her away when she sought a routine physical needed to adopt a baby from Mexico. The doctor said he objected to a single woman's adopting a child. "He said something about how, according to his religious beliefs, children should have two parents," said Bray, whose complaint against the doctor earlier this year was dismissed by the state medical board. "I was under a tight deadline. I started crying. I cried in his office, and then I went back to my car and cried for a long time before I could drive home."


So it's already spread beyond actions that people claim makes them accomplices to murder and now should apply to routine care.

What will that make those who believe "The wages of sin is death" believe they have the right to do to (or not do for) AIDS patients and women with cervical cancer caused by HPV spread through what the healthcare provider believes to be immoral sexual contact?

Rather than seeking religious freedom, the "right of conscious" people want the right to practice bigotry in the name of religion.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:21 AM   0 comments links to this post

Sunday, July 16, 2006

When Power Imbalance Is Used To Commit Sexual Abuse

Mercury News (hat tip Ang's Weird Ideas)


Carrasco in conversation veers from lucid to vague. Sometimes she speaks in a singsong, sounding like a cheerful young teen. Other times she loses her train of thought, stares blankly into the distance and says, finally, "What?"

About a year ago, Carrasco sent letters to priests across California, seeking spiritual guidance. Mostly she received tracts on Catholic faith. Some didn't respond at all. One answered: Father "Randy" Benas of the Sacred Heart Parish in a place called Saratoga. They began to call each other. Their conversations often included spiritual counseling, Carrasco said.

Occasionally, Benas would steer the conversation into oddly sexual topics. She was surprised, a little shocked. "I asked him if this was against your priesthood," she said. "And he said, 'No.' "
She told detectives Father Randy had counseled her about a vision she had in which God told her not to have sex with her boyfriend.

The priest suggested they meet, she said. They agreed an opportune time would be in late March while she was on a road trip to San Diego to visit friends. He offered to rent her a motel room so she could get some sleep and break up her trip, she said.

The decision by the prosecutor in California to drop the charges came down to how many times the woman said no to sex before she stopped protesting. The priest got her to the motel room using his role of spiritual advisor, but was setting her up so she'd be vulnerable to his sexual advances.

The inherent vulnerability of those being counseled is why states such as Minnesota in their Definition of Criminal sexual conduct in the third degree have the following provisions:


(1) the actor is or purports to be a member of the clergy, the complainant is not married to the actor, and:
(i) the sexual penetration occurred during the course of a meeting in which the complainant sought or received religious or spiritual advice, aid, or comfort from the actor in private; or
(ii) the sexual penetration occurred during a period of time in which the complainant was
meeting on an ongoing basis with the actor to seek or receive religious or spiritual advice, aid, or comfort in private. Consent by the complainant is not a defense;
Unfortunately, many states refuse to fully acknowledge the role of power imbalances in their sexual assault and sexual abuse laws. The exploited are in effect scolded for being vulnerable and the exploiters can play the victim if they are charged and the prosecutor later decides the case is too weak to prosecute.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 1:14 PM   0 comments links to this post