Thursday, May 31, 2007

Rape Case Where Confusion And Misunderstanding Makes sense

In so many rape cases, the defendant or the defense attorneys claim what the prosecution says is a rape is in fact a misunderstanding when it isn't being disputed that the defendant was pushing for sex or exploited someone incapable of giving legal consent. The confusion and misunderstanding is alleged by the defense to show that the defendant thought the alleged victim might have legally consented.

There's no real misunderstanding in these cases except for what the defendants thought they could get away with. Often people who advocate for a not-guilty verdict will admit that what the defendant did was wrong, but not so wrong that the defendant should be labeled as a criminal.

By their words these "clearly in the wrong, but clearly not guilty" people remind defendants and potential rapists that there is strong support for the belief that many defendants can and should get away with it. They also remind victims that the harm done to them is no big deal or is viewed as self-inflicted.

This case, where an ambulance worker is charged with rape in Australia, is the first one I've seen where the defense is raising a legitimate issue rather than playing on stereotypes. The possible misunderstanding in this case is on the part of the witnesses. Was the defendant groping the woman during the ambulance ride to the hospital or did the contact happen innocently?

This case, unlike the cases where the defense claims that the alleged victim didn't resist with sufficient force to make it clear that she really didn't want to have sex with him, raises legitimate questions about what really happened and doesn't rely on victim blaming or victim bashing.

This case reminds me how normal it has become for people to excuse rape when the alleged rapist claims ignorance. Frankly, if a defendant can't tell the difference between engaging in truly mutual -- legal -- sex and engaging in rape, that person is a danger to society.

And someone who is numb to the harm they can do to others in one area isn't just a danger when it comes to sex crimes. That person can easily excuse harming others in a variety of ways, especially where the risk of being charged with a crime is low or where he can plead ignorance of the law and hope to con a jury.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:34 AM   0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

If Robbery Cases Were Treated Like Rape Cases

I've been seeing bloggers use the fact that a rape case wasn't charged or was dismissed because of "lack of evidence" as proof that no rape occurred and also as proof of a criminal false accusation.

To understand this belief system imagine you report your TV and all of your electronics stolen. You even know who has your stuff. A man you thought was a great friend. But the man now claims to be the owner of everything you reported stolen. You have some, but not all, of your receipts but you didn't record your serial numbers or mark your equipment in any way. You only have proof that you once owned that same popular model of stereo. You can't find the receipt for your TV.

Friends who should know that you would never lie about something like this refuse to testify that you still owned the items you reported stolen or that the other person didn't own those items until yours disappeared. They like the man you accused and don't want to get involved. You don't have any evidence to back your claim that your possessions were stolen by a specific person except your testimony. There's a strong possibility that the perpetrator will walk free.

End of story, right? Not if the attitudes about rape cases were present in cases like this.

Because of your mistakes (not recording serial numbers or marking your items and losing one receipt), you now have no proof that the stolen items were ever yours let alone that they were stolen. That lack of proof will be used to justify people calling you a liar or crazy. Friends who previously heard you complaining about finances will turn that complaint into evidence that you are framing your friend. To all those who liked the man who stole your possessions, you become someone worthy of open scorn and wild accusations. They will say you must be vindictive since you are trying to ruin an innocent man's life. There will be calls for you to be prosecuted by people who say you are worse than a thief and deserve greater punishment.

You might even receive anonymous death threats.

You will be called a hoaxer. You may end up facing criminal charges for making a false police report. This situation will be used to imply that you are a cold-blooded liar if you are robbed again and report to the police. You will permanently be viewed as an unreliable witness.

You will hear people say that even if what you allege is true that the other person did nothing illegal. You let him into your home so you were just asking to have him steal all of your stuff. You were as responsible for what happened as the other man. If you are known to ever go out drinking people will speculate that maybe one of those nights you were so drunk you just gave him the items you claim he stole.

If these people are generous, they will concede that you have the right to feel robbed, but you are a liar if you report being robbed.

This situation favors the thief and even if you point this out, people will defend the unfairness because reasonable doubt means that the word of an alleged thief should always have more weight than the word of an alleged victim because the alleged thief is innocent until proven guilty and because we must abide by the reasonable doubt standard. By reasonable doubt they mean that it is reasonable to doubt everything you say.

Defense attorneys who discover that you were once charged with shoplifting at 11 will attempt to bring that up if the case ever makes it to court and will defend their client in large part by attacking everything about you. In effect, you will be on trial but with none of the legal rights the defendant gets.

When these types of robberies become more common than stranger robberies as the number of successful non-stranger thefts rise, people will either deny this or shake their heads and say there is nothing we can do to make a positive difference when all these crimes are "he said, he said" cases where there's a fifty shot of determining who is the real criminal.

Even when there is solid evidence such as surveillance video showing the alleged robber hauling your stuff away that will be dismissed or drowned out by the alternative theories.

If this were how all robbery victims were treated, what do you think would happen to the rate of reporting? And who would get blamed when the number of reports goes down if we stay consistent with attitudes about rape cases?

Yep, it would all be the victim's fault so we would have PSAs lecturing robbery victims and potential victims on appropriate behavior and telling them that they must report and face the attacks which we will let continue unabated.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:35 AM   3 comments links to this post

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Date Rape Denial Reinforces Danger

I came across a post written by a man which explained that there was no such thing as date rape and which gave enough details of what happened (to someone who "misused" this label) to make it clear that the college woman had been raped while unconscious after a night of drinking. The poster showed open disdain for the female college student who woke up and realized she'd been raped the night before.

What this man wanted was for it to be legally and socially acceptable for him to get sex from unwilling or unconscious girls and women as long as these women knew him or came into contact with him in a social situation.

Unfortunately, in many groups date rape is not only socially acceptable, it is celebrated as a successful conquest and defeat of an unworthy opponent. In these groups it's popular to say that date rape victims do this to themselves. When you are a rapist, yet don't want to own the label you have earned, you must find a way to shift the responsibility for your actions away from yourself and onto your victim.

Rather than showing that the rapist is powerful or successful, this "she made me do it" mindset transforms men into pathetic creatures who can't resist any opportunity to sexually dominate. They turn what are viewed as the nicest rapists into sex offenders who are the most out-of-control. They communicate unintentionally that stranger rapists can at least control themselves around people who know their identities.

If committing date rape isn't a choice made by the rapist, this person is someone who can only control their impulses when they are externally controlled or isolated from their potential victims. So this argument which attempts to deny date rape reinforces the belief in the need for lifetime sex offender registries, civil commitment and very long prison sentences for non-stranger rapists.

Only if a date rapist has control over his sexual behavior is there any potential that this person can voluntarily stop being a danger to girls and women who know him or who interact with him in social settings.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:15 AM   2 comments links to this post

Monday, May 28, 2007

Call For Nominations For First Anniversary Edition of Carnival Against Sexual Violence

Tomorrow (the 29th) at 11 pm is the deadline for the next carnival against sexual violence. This is the first anniversary edition. Please nominate a post, one you've written or one you've read. Let's kick off the second year with even more great posts.

If you've missed any past editions, you can find a link to all of the previous editions here at the carnival homepage.

If you don't find any posts on a specific issue, area or pattern of violence, etc., please nominate posts to help fill in those gaps. One year of the carnival has only scratched the surface of this problem.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:00 PM   1 comments links to this post

Montel Williams Show On Sex Trafficking

I watched last Thursday's (5/24) episode of The Montel Show which was on human trafficking of North American girls, something that many people assume only happens to girls shipped into our country. He included segments on different aspects of this problem.

A cop discussed a case where a mother trafficked her own daughter for child porn and possible rape (if the price was right).

A woman talked about how when she was 13 and completely naive, she was lured into a car and only discovered she'd fallen into a trap after she was taken to another city and so completely isolated that she felt she had no choice but to comply when she was prostituted. She became so isolated and so dependent on her pimp that when she was facing the foster care system and fearing that it would be worse than prostitution that she returned to her pimp.

An ex-pimp who grew up as the son of a pimp talked about how he approached what he did and how he used personal charm and deception to lure girls most people would assume couldn't be lured.

Tina Frundt: The Outreach Coordinator for the Polaris Project talked about efforts to help the sexually trafficked escape and deal with all the issues survivors have.

A women talked about how she was 14 ran away from home for a couple of days and met a seemingly nice married couple who thought she could be a model. That nice couple then drugged her and she woke up in a room where she was repeatedly raped. She escaped only through deception so one of the men who raped her agreed to take her to the hospital.

The mother of Jessie Foster talked about her ongoing search for her daughter who she didn't know had been involved with prostitution until her daughter's daily contact with family members abruptly ceased.

What I liked most about this particular episode and Montel William's treatment of this subject was that without a trace of victim blaming he asked how even middle-class girls -- who to most of us wouldn't seem vulnerable -- could be lured into going somewhere with a pimp. It seems like victim blaming is so pervasive that it is shocking to watch a show where it is absent completely.

Most of these girls are coerced through bait and switch, although I don't think anyone on the show used that term. Pimps don't usually announce that they are pimps and most of them don't fit the stereotype people have of what pimps look like.

Montel also didn't victim blame when a girl went back to her pimp. By him not falling into that trap, viewers got to see the fear which is created within the victims of sex traffickers of "the system" which is reinforced when police and the courts fail to recognize the full scope of the problem.

In the final moments of the show the ex-pimp said that part of the problem is that many of those who are given the charge to crack down on the sex trafficking of children are participating in what they are supposed to stop. To me this put a real focus on the reality that without those willing to pay to have sex with children, their would be no sexual trafficking of children.

We can't condemn the pimps while excusing any of those who are willing to pay to rape and exploit and expect to see a significant reduction in the amount of sex trafficking. This is big business and those feeding this business with their cash have a major responsibility for this injustice.

Every time someone says of a rape case, "She was just a prostitute" that person is revealing a willingness to support rape and sexual trafficking. These people will claim they make these statements because prostitutes aren't reliable, but I suspect that for many men what they fear is the complete truth from those who have been prostituted about those who pay for sex.

On this Memorial Day, I remember those who lost their lives in willing service to our country, but I also remember those who lost their lives through unwilling service to the sexual and financial appetites of others.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:15 AM   1 comments links to this post

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Rape Prevention For Women That Doesn't Let Men Off The Hook

I've been thinking about how so much of the rape prevention advice given to girls and women also feeds into the rationalizations of rapists. Then there's the issue of how can girls and women communicate their lack of consent so poorly trained investigators can't dismiss a completed rape as a "he said, she said" situation.

To get ideas, I searched for rape prevention videos. The first one I watched had a self-protection expert demonstrate a container of mace which wouldn't go off accidentally. That makes sense for attempted stranger rape or attempted stranger kidnapping, but most sexual assaults aren't committed by strangers.

Shooting mace at an acquaintance might be seen as an act of violence so that type of spray was out. I wondered if there were a product which could be used like mace to make lack of consent perfectly clear for all those boys and men who won't acknowledge and/or respect the girl's or woman's limits and for all those who keep repeating the mantra of denial: "women lie about rape."

I decided to go looking to see if there was a nontoxic spray which would also stain a would-be rapist's skin since photo line ups are considered suspect by many.

I did a Google search and found that these types of products are available.

One such product is DyeWITNESS™ which uses a non-toxic green foam. If sprayed in the face the foam blocks the target's vision for about a minute. The stain fades from the skin after 8 days and permanently stains clothing.

For those in the UK there is Xmarker Personal Attack Defence Spray which leaves a blue stain.

Fathers who want their daughters to be able to escape if a boyfriend becomes determined to not let her leave until she surrenders can give this product instead of a lecture on not "letting" the boyfriend go too far.

If boys and men start getting sprayed when they refuse to take no for an answer or who refuse to leave when told to do so and then have to walk around for days with a stained face, maybe their attitudes about coercion will change even if a jury is conned into accepting that there was reasonable doubt or if a DA won't press charges because of lack of evidence. If women encounter a rape or gang rape in progress, and sprayed the attackers that would make the but "I have an alibi" much harder to pull off.

With the number of rapes committed each year, imagine what it would look like if each rapist and each wannabe rapist -- even the ones who insist they did nothing wrong -- were stained for a week each time they crossed the line from wanted to unwanted sexual contact.

Denial of the problem would be a lot harder.

Turning this device on the rape victim would stain them, but that stain would make it much harder for an assailant to con anyone by saying, "It was consensual."

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:01 AM   0 comments links to this post

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Video: Didn't Want To Do It

Check out this Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape's PSA video.

I need to mention that the man's or boy's actions are no less deliberate if he doesn't add anything to the alcohol he urges her to drink. If she's incapacitated for any reason, and at anyone's hands, you have a moral duty to make sure nobody uses her. Walking away and leaving someone vulerable to another man's desire to rape isn't proof that you are doing the right thing by not raping her yourself. Just because you haven't committed a crime doesn't mean that your hands are clean.

Girls who try to prevent rape by taking precautions and watching out for other girls don't have it easy and boys and men need to accept that taking the needed action to prevent rape won't always be easy for them.

If you snear at girls and women who are afraid to speak up during an attempted rape, but refuse to speak up or call 911 when you see a bad situation in the making or a possible sexual assault, you need to realize that you are being controlled by fear or by cowardice or something ugly inside yourself and are no better than those you snear at.

If she didn't want to do it at that time or in that way and cannot easily walk away, it's rape.

If she started the interaction willingly and in full capacity and loses motor control or coherency, stop. To continue is to cross the line from mutuality to rape.

If anyone besides her gives you the okay, no matter how trustworthy they seem or how convincing their explanation, it's rape.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:27 PM   1 comments links to this post

For All Those Who Say Talking A Woman Into Sex Isn't Rape

Thankfully, in this case the 3-time alleged rapist finally has become a convicted rapist.

From wftv:

Sex crimes investigators said this is their strongest case yet against Daniel Pearson. It's the third time he's been accused of raping a woman. One of his victims would not cooperate. A jury acquitted him in a second case.

Pearson, 29, told the jury he and the alleged victim were acquaintances and that the night of the alleged rape, he went to her place late at night and charmed her into sex after two hours of trying.

The alleged victim said she did what he told her to do to protect herself and her children, because he had a gun. In this case, DNA evidence linked Pearson to the alleged victim and the alleged victim did cooperate with investigators. So, in this case, Pearson took the witness stand and said he finally convinced the woman into having sex.

"I told a woman what she wants to hear. Saying all the things that a woman wants to hear to get her to say yes," he told the court.

The next time you hear a boy or man say he finally convinced a girl or woman to have sex with him and you think that means he couldn't be a rapist, remember this case. The reality is always uglier than the spin when the convincee says she was raped.

If a girl or woman didn't want sex but didn't see any viable option other than submitting, don't you dare call her a liar or a willing participant. If you are incapable of believing the boy or man could be a rapist, that's your problem and your responsibility. It is not the rape victim's responsibility to describe what happened to her in a way you can accept as real rape.

If it takes you two hours of trying to convince someone to have sex with you, you have not convinced that person of anything. If you ask someone for sex when they are alert, waiting to ask again until the person is no longer alert is a method of overwhelming lack of consent. It's the MO of a rapist or wannabe rapist.

If you want to be persistent after someone refused you and know you aren't committing rape, then don't have sex the same day you finally convince the other person. If you've truly convinced them, then at a later date, with full awareness and easy options other than sex, that person will be a full participant in the sexual contact. If you want the yes to be valid, you have to be willing to accept anything less than an enthusiastic yes as a no.

If not having sex with this person isn't acceptable within your relationship, you have the option of leaving. You also have the option of assessing your means of asking for sex to see whether it is poisoning your relationship. The other person might go from being willing and turned on to being terrified of who you turn into when you want sex. If that's the case, you need to learn how to approach sex so the other person loves what you are doing.

If you have to scare girls and women into having sex with you or you have to wait and pounce in a vulnerable moment, you are terrible failure at sex no matter how many times you have sex.

When boys and men defend themselves from accusations of rape by saying they were just "Convincing a girl (or woman) to have sex" they are talking about coercion whether a weapon is present or not. The victim very likely won't use the term coercion since that is a theoretical term that doesn't capture the feeling of being coerced. Those who are coerced are more likely to talk about pressure.

For those who think the solution is to teach girls and women assertiveness, it's like talking about teaching girls how to swim better while ignoring or defending the boys trying to hold girls under water until they stop struggling. The problem is not girls lack of assertiveness, the problem is boys who think it's okay to grab girls and nearly drown them. The problem is people saying, "boys will be boys" when one of those boys succeeds at drowning a girl, followed by "she should have taken more personal responsibility for her swimming" or "what did she expect would happen when she got into a pool with boys?"

When I was growing up and spent many summer days at the public pool, the lifeguard blew the whistle on rough treatment of other swimmers. Those who liked bullying learned to stop being so rough or they got kicked out of the pool. The bullied weren't the ones who got the lecture on proper behavior and forced to leave the pool.

Why do we have it backwards when it comes to sex and outrageously say that's just how the world works?

Update: Someone who found this post through Reddit wrote the following comment.

But the point here is that verbal coercion is acceptable. Verbal coercion plus gun is not. The gun, you see, is the difference between acceptable and not. The title of this post, and many of the opinions of the blogger, are just ridiculous.

Think about the implications of this statement. If nothing else about the interaction changes except the gun, a sexual assault suddenly becomes not only legal but perfectly acceptable to this person and to many who think in this way. The man's presence and demeanor -- even without the gun -- could have instilled real, logical fear in this woman for herself and for her children.

Serious injury and death can come without the use of a gun. Yet people continue to say, no gun (or no knife) -- no crime.

The rapist's intentions haven't changed in the slightest, but if he either doesn't use a weapon to make the other person comply to an act they don't want to participate in or if he gets people to doubt that he had a weapon, he becomes a non-rapist and his victim becomes a liar.

Now that is ridiculous.

I think the problem for many people is that they can emotionally connect and project themselves into a situation when there is a gun involved and from the image of a gun barrel pointed at them say, "yes, that other person was a victim of a real crime." But a projection is not the same as recreating that real situation. Often in projections where the label rape is rejected, the person makes it easy for the "victim" to say no and makes it easy for the "victim" to walk away and makes it easy for the "victim" to get assistance. Doing what the other person wants becomes so completely optional that only someone who wants it will do it.

But that pretty little projection with all those easy outs isn't the reality the alleged rapist is trying to hide or is denying.

So many people cling to the idea that they can recreate a real situation in all its complexities based on a few details or even one detail -- absence of a gun. If we deny rape when there is no gun then we must deny bank robberies when there is no gun.

If a bank robber is unarmed, then the logic used to evaluate rape says there's no threat and no reason to give that person any cash. Yet we accept that the tellers have no way of knowing what the bank robber is capable of once that person crosses the line from customer to wannabe bank robber.

This isn't a customer jokingly asking for a million dollars in response to the question, "Can I help you with anything else?"

This is serious and this is frightening -- and for good reason.

Yet someone who goes from seeming like a normal person to a wannabe rapist isn't supposed to be frightening at all and shouldn't alter our behavior in the least -- unless a knife or gun is visible. Knowing a person previously doesn't make this situation any less frightening than if a teller is being held up by someone she or he knows. It's still a crime attempt and the danger is still real.

The only question is how many people will continue to give rapists their support when those rapists rape without a knife or gun?

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:38 AM   0 comments links to this post

Friday, May 25, 2007

Leaving A Girl Being Raped A Better Choice?

In the case I discussed in my post What does consent look like the boy who pleaded guilty for taking the cell phone video was sentenced to probation.

Sheppard, who testified for the prosecution, admitted that he took a video of the incident on his cell phone. The 10-second clip was then shown to friends. Students who saw the video reported it to a teacher.

His attorney, Earl Key, said Thursday that Sheppard is a “good boy” who got caught up in a questionable situation. “There’s no question there was a cell phone video,” Key said. “However, during this whole affair, he never once participated in what happened to this girl.” Sheppard told Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza that he regretted sticking around and watching the incident unfold. “I should have just
left,” he said.

The boy's attorney is dead wrong and is supporting a dangerous attitude. This wasn't a questionable situation, this was a crime. The proper response wouldn't have been for the boy to leave a crime victim there unprotected. The proper response would be to either tell his friends what they were doing was wrong and that they needed to stop or for him to call 911.

Recording a crime isn't the actions of a "good boy" it is the actions of someone who is a-okay with sexual assault. We certainly would recognize this if he had recorded his friends committing arson which seriously burned a girl inside that building.

Rapists need people to believe that they are in questionable situations in order to deny the existance of a rape victim and to deny that the harm from rape was caused by the rapist or rapists and those who provided support to rape. They want people to believe that the trauma of rape is largely self-inflicted.

Rapists need you to believe in them and will use every trick they know to make you believe. Or at least lose some sympathy for the rape victim. You can see this more clearly if you think of how you would respond to slurs against the victim if the crime were arson.

This defendant's statement to the judge reveals that he still doesn't understand the harm done that day to the crime victim. His regret is completely self-centered and I believe only expresses a regret at getting caught and charged with a crime. Rapists depend on friends like this who give approval to their rapes. Without that positive or neutral feedback many of these rapists wouldn't feel so smug as they plan and then commit rape.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:39 AM   0 comments links to this post

Arizona Supreme Court To Review Rape Statute Of Limitations

The issue being reviewed is whether a current Arizona law which eliminates the statute of limitations in sexual assaults when the defendant is unknown also apply to crimes committed before the new law was put into effect on Jan. 1, 1997.

The lower court ruled that the new law doesn't apply and the defendant, identified via a DNA match 11 years after the rape cannot be prosecuted.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:42 AM   0 comments links to this post

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Fake Firefighter Rapist Convicted

As a follow up to my post Not guilty by reason of brain scan, I'm glad that the defense's attempt to set a known rapist free has failed.

The guilty verdict on all counts means a sentence of at least 25 years. That minimum sentence would be too light if the defense is right in any of what they alleged about this man's reasoning skills. If he couldn't stop himself this time, he won't be able to stop himself the next time.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 4:26 PM   0 comments links to this post

Rape Interrupted But No Evidence of Rape

The women who interrupted the alleged assault which isn't resulting in any charges because of lack of evidence are speaking up.

The three young women were bored by the party on South Buena Vista Avenue last March 3. For every guy, there were three girls, and many of them were young.

Alcohol flowed from a makeshift bar in the kitchen - beer, vodka and plastic bags of wine slurped down in a routine called "slap the bladder."

The three, all soccer players at De Anza College, were about to leave around 12:30 a.m. when a girl they didn't know gestured to a room off the kitchen and said, "Hey,
there's eight guys in that room with one girl."

Thinking that was strange, the soccer players - April Grolle, Lauren Chief Elk, and Lauren Bryeans, all 20, knocked on the French doors to the room, which were being held shut from within.

A De Anza college baseball player opened the door about three inches. "You girls don't know what the f--- is going on," they remember him saying. "Get the
f--- out of here."

This isn't a description of women discovering a gang rape, this is a description of men being victimized. That's the baseball team's pitcher's story and he's sticking to it.

For anyone who doesn't understand, let me make it clear. When you have to hold the door shut and screen your actions, you know you've crossed the line. Forget any of the excuses. I've heard them all.

When you are interrupted and the girl or woman cannot speak for herself that she is a full willing participant, that shows that she isn't. She may be nothing to you and you may hope she is nothing to those who become aware of what you are doing, but she is not nothing.

Those who do this are the ones who made themselves worthless.

You know what you are doing. You know -- even if you refuse to give it the correct label: rape.

You knew before that night because you probably hoped that the booze and the party would lead to what happened that night -- some girl getting so drunk that you could use her like a toy -- up until those rude women interrupted your fun.

Being caught in the act is not being the victim of a witch hunt, it is being a perpetrator and/or an accessory to a serious crime. If you become a suspect because of the sexual violence committed by someone near you, blame the rapists for your predicament. Don't blame the victim or those who braved a situation which had the potential to turn the violence against them. Don't whine about those overzealous prosecutors.

This isn't political correctness run amok, it isn't feminism run amok. It is human decency. If you don't have it, the fault is yours not those who assumed you were incapable of rape or incapable of standing there watching a friend commit rape.

That this behavior is nothing new and is in fact far too common is no excuse. It isn't the victim's fault because she should have assumed that the men at that party were predators. If you prey on others the responsibility for your actions belongs to you and those who aid and abet you, it doesn't belong to your intended targets.

This crime is no less serious than if the victim had been hit from behind with a crowbar and snatched from the parking lot of a mall.

Making excuses for rapists who use alcohol as a weapon supports rape. Period.

It's like those who are addicted to legal drugs who say that they are better than drug addicts hooked on illegal drugs. This is nothing more than a way to deny a very ugly truth. As with the drug addiction, nothing will change as long as the lie continues.

If you use alcohol to incapacitate your victims that is a form of violence just as much as the rapist who knocks a jogger unconscious. It doesn't matter whether your intended victim knew how much alcohol she was drinking or whether someone pushed more alcohol in her than she wanted.

That truth isn't magically transformed into a lie because so many people don't want to believe people like you could be "real" rapists or because they continue to blame the victim for your conscious choices. If it hadn't been this victim, you would have kept looking until you found another one.

The only advice I would give people who encounter a situation where someone is incoherent or knocked out to the point of having vomit on them is to not take the victim out of the situation like these women did when they drove her to a hospital.

Call 911 immediately.

Forget embarrassment, this could be a life threatening situation for the victim either because of alcohol poisoning or a drug overdose.

In case the paramedics need to find out if the victim was given any substance besides alcohol try to prevent the witnesses from leaving. Calling 911 may save a life and it may also preserve the crime scene. Once you leave with the victim, those who are guilty will do their best to cover their tracks.

This crime was preventable and those who should have prevented it were the perpetrators and wannabe perpetrators. Those people are also the ones who deserve our scorn and our lectures. As long as the perpetrators believe they have free run to rape, no prevention effort aimed at potential victims will make a significant difference.

Lecturing rape victims only supports rapists belief that their rationalization of "she asked for it" is true and supports their claim that they aren't rapists. I'd rather support rape victims than rapists.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:11 AM   2 comments links to this post

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Followup To What Does Consent Look Like

The verdict is in on the case I discussed in my post What does consent look like.

The 3 defendants each had a different outcome. One was found not guilty on all charges. The second was found guilty of misdemeanor sexual misconduct. The third, who lured the girl to the house where the attack took place, was found guilty of two felony counts of aggravated sexual abuse. A fourth boy previously plead guilty to child endangerment charges for recording some of the incident on a cell phone camera.

A friend of the defendants revealed an appalling attitude when he said:

"The whole thing was about a bunch of kids, telling lies against one another, and so I believe it was wrong for that kid to get that kind of time."

Luring a girl to a house on false pretenses where your friends are secretly waiting and then violating her with a broomstick is nothing worth punishing with jail time? This quote highlights why these types of crimes happen and why so many rapists get away with their crimes. This type of harm is simply no big deal to far too many people.

Those people should hang their heads in shame.

The victim's mother spoke out after the verdict to reveal that her daughter was even more vulnerable than was revealed in court.

The victim's mother says her daughter, who was fifteen at the time, suffers from post traumatic stress disorder from the attack, and spent time in three mental health facilities.

She says her daughter's bi-polar, has a form of autism, and has learning and emotional disabilities.

The victim's mother said, "The defense attorneys were able to keep that detail out of the courtroom because they did not want the juries to feel sympathy."

I'm sure the official position of the defense teams would be that this information would add irrelevant emotion to the case, but it would add important insight into the dynamics of what happened and would reveal an added level of premeditated exploitation to the boys actions.

Here's the MO: Find someone vulnerable, pretend to be her friend, lie to her as you lure her to an isolated location, coerce her into limited sexual contact so you can tell yourself the contact was "consensual" then have your friends join in on your exploitation -- using a knife and 4 boys' presence to secure more "consensual" contact.

Frankly, all 3 defendants got off too lightly.

The fault for a too long sentence belongs to the person who committed the sex crime. Don't want the punishment? Don't do the sex crime. Enough with the excuses and the rationalizations.

hat tip: Autistic Abuse.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:18 PM   0 comments links to this post

Man Suspended After Rape Charges Claims To Be Victim of Witch Hunt

One of the De Anza College baseball players who was impacted by an alleged rape in March which isn't going to result in any charges speaks up.

Separately, the sheriff's department had been looking into a second woman's claims that she was raped in the same house during a party in December. Tomkins said there would not be any charges in that case, either.

One of the eight suspended baseball players, pitcher Chris Knopf, told the San Jose Mercury News on Monday: "From the beginning, I kind of felt like it was a witch hunt and the De Anza players were victims, and not really this girl."

This man is making a critical mistake in his assessment. Rather than taking the easy way out and playing the victim card -- as rape apologists love to say happens when women report being raped -- these allegations should be a wake up call that what was seen as acceptable and legal sexual behavior at this house was neither acceptable nor legal.

But it's easier for many men to believe in the witch hunt myth than it is to question their own ethics and moral standards and to question the standards of those around them. An honest self assessment might reveal the ugly truth that the allegations of rape were true.

Denial is easier than seeing the monster within yourself or your buddies. Because so many boys and men rape or attempt rape or behave right on the edge of sexual assault and get away with it, those who get reported or who were present at a reported sexual assault can feel like they are being unfairly singled out.

What's unfair is that so many rapists got away with it.

What's unfair is getting raped and being too afraid to report it or being raped, reporting it and being labeled as someone on a witch hunt.

What's unfair is that so many sexual assaults are successful and so many rapists are seen as boys or men worth emulating. Too often it is girls and women who are treated as nothing more than prey. But does this man speak out against that type of hunting?


If you don't cross the line yourself but surround yourself with sexual exploiters, don't blame those men's victims when the backlash from their actions burns you. Lack of evidence is just that and nothing more. To turn lack of evidence into proof of a witch hunt is to live in a very dangerous state of denial.

Both for yourself and those who believe it is safe to be around you.

Your sexual contact with others should do no harm -- as judged from their perspective not yours. If you aren't sure that your actions will cause no physical or psychological harm to someone else or leave that person with serious regret, don't take that action. If you have to push someone to tell you what you want to hear or you ignore any resistance or hesitance, you are stepping over the line.

Your buddies who are looking to score off the athletic field are not experts when it comes to ethics or the law. Relying on their judgment sets you up to take actions you might not take otherwise. If you are found guilty of rape, your buddies who urged you on may pity you and defend you, but they will walk free.

If you ever hear a friend say something dismissive like, "She's just a ..." or "She's asking for it" that should be a flashing warning sign that this person will step over the line into rape or is urging you to do so.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:36 AM   1 comments links to this post

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Comments Feature Corrected

I don't know what happened but for the last week (beginning on the 18th) my posts published with comments and backlinks disabled even though I didn't change the settings. I've republished the posts for the last week so comments and backlinks are enabled as they should have been in the first place.

I've also found that the new version of Blogger sometimes doesn't accept a comment the first time. When you comment on my blog please look to see if your comment is still in the comment box before navigating away from the page. If you want to see this problem fixed, please report it to Blogger whenever it happens so they will know about it and will view it as a high-priority issue.

Thanks to Sailorman for letting me know about this problem.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:07 AM   1 comments links to this post

Defense Attorney Exploits Bigotry To Counter Rape Charges

Here's another rape case, this one in Philadelphia, where the defense strategy is to evoke bigotry in order to fight evidence of rape.

The women — attractive, ambitious professionals — told strikingly similar stories about their dates with Marsalis at a November preliminary hearing.

They spoke of meeting a smooth-talking Marsalis between 2003 and 2005, then feeling unusually intoxicated after returning from the bathroom or letting him buy a round from the bar.

The women said they woke up hours later, back at his apartment — groggy, sometimes undressed — after an apparent sexual encounter or even in the middle of intercourse.

Khan [the prosecutor] said the women felt confused or ashamed after the dates. "They thought, 'He couldn't have done anything wrong. He's a nice guy. He's a doctor. He's an astronaut,'" Khan said.

When you believe one thing about a person and that doesn't fit your image of rapist, you can question your own sanity when that seemingly normal man commits rape without the use of drugs. With the use of drugs the conflict between experience and assumptions would be much greater.

There's a label for this and it is cognitive dissonance. Just because a victim has a hard time believing they've been victimized doesn't mean the crime never happened.

If you could manage to get your brain around such a bizarre experience, most women would reasonably assume that if they reported what happened to them that they would be accused of consenting but either not remembering doing so or they would be accused of flat out lying about being drugged because that's what women reportedly do most of the time.

And surprise, surprise...

The defense attorney said the women thought they hit the jackpot meeting a doctor.

This sort of anti-women bigotry often works in rape cases when one victim comes forward but I hope it doesn't work when there is a pattern of behavior on the part of the defendant. And make no mistake, this is bigotry aimed at exploiting stereotypes about women.

This bigotry makes no sense in this case since the women were professionals looking for compatible men. The man's lies gave him access to women he wouldn't have otherwise been able to meet, but it's the women who supposedly were out to hit the jackpot when they believed his lies. How is that in any way logical?

Defense lawyer Kathleen Martin called the case one of regret, not rape. She said the women consented to sexual intercourse, even if they regretted it after learning they had been duped.

Here we get more anti-women bigotry when the defense attorney tries to make it impossible that the women would put all the pieces together once they learned from the police that the man lied. Instead, the only viable reason for the women's stories is petty revenge. The rape as morning-after regret stereotype.

Imagine if someone doing okay financially was drugged and then robbed by someone posing as so flush with cash that they don't need to steal. Because the victims were drugged they can't testify with perfect clarity about what actions the other person took. Some of them might not realize they had been robbed until the cops found that person's possessions with other items which had been reported stolen.

We wouldn't believe that all those victims voluntarily gave their possessions away simply because they hadn't reported the thefts. Plenty of people are robbed by careful thieves and don't realize what happened until the cops show them that their possessions have been found in the liar's possession. It would be ridiculous to explain away a pattern of robberies because a defense attorney says all those hardworking people thought they'd hit the jackpot and were so angry about being lied to that they would falsely claim to be robbed because they now regret giving their possessions away.

What isn't credible in a robbery by drugging and deception case suddenly becomes credible in a rape case? Not for those who aren't blinded by their bigotry. What's scary is the number of people -- men and women -- who accept bigotry as if it were absolute truth.

We understand that the person pretending to be flush with cash is being intentionally deceptive and is therefore less reliable than the alleged robbery victims. Yet in rape cases, we are supposed to understand that the alleged victims are less reliable than the alleged rapist who has been caught using deception to gain access to his alleged victims.

The only way that works is through bigotry against women and that bigotry doesn't pop out of thin air. It's no coincidence that so many people keep repeating "women lie about rape." Whenever I hear that phrase now, I think, "Thou doth protest too much" and "who are you trying to help escape accountability?"

This case also highlights that rape isn't about supply and demand as some idiots claim. It's about the character of the rapist. From the description of his lies, he seemed like someone too insecure to initiate sex where the woman had the power to say no.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:05 AM   0 comments links to this post

Monday, May 21, 2007

What Does Consent Look Like?

Defense attorneys in a gang rape trial want the jury to believe that everyone would recognize non-consensual sexual activity from a 10-second video clip (which was deleted before it could be entered as evidence) and not rely on stereotypes of how they think someone being raped would behave every second during a rape or on their biases about the victim or their biases about the defendants.

If someone looks at a clip with the absolute assumption that nobody involved is a rapist, that assumption will cause the viewer to dismiss anything which doesn't fit their assumption and to fill in the unseen moments with actions which fit their expectations.

Reportedly a knife was held by one or more of the defendants which is a threat even if the threat is never spoken. I very much doubt that the video clip included that action. Unfortunately, people with strong enough biases can easily explain away someone wielding a knife.

Smith [one of the defendants] finished his own testimony Thursday morning, telling Assistant District Attorney Claudette Antholzner that the sex was consensual and the girl never told them to stop.

This phrasing is enlightening since it contains an implication that they were doing things to this alleged victim which she didn't want and he knew she didn't want it. But since, for whatever reason, she didn't say, "Stop" in a way they would respect, they believed they could continue with no concern for the harm they were doing and without legal accountable.

This statement also implies that the girl never told them to go. Frankly, this statement is a smoking gun of this defendant's guilt by revealing his rationalizations.

It bothers me that the judge allowed a licensed psychologist to speculate about whether a hypothetical girl would lie about a consensual contact to protect her reputation. This woman's testimony smacks of the type of classic victim denial which kept -- and still keeps -- so many rape victims silent.

This expert testimony simply reinforces the lie that date rape is nothing more than post-sex regret. If a juror went into the trial with some level of belief in this lie, the expert witness could have that person dismissing all evidence which contradicts that lie.

Most appalling is that the expert testimony overlooks the fact that boys will lie about non-consensual contact to protect far more than their reputations or will rationalize their actions until they see themselves as doing nothing criminal. Not speaking up about rape immediately is what happens after most rapes. To have an expert take a common response and turn it into a potential smoking gun is reckless.

There was a good reason these defendants would believe that they didn't have to stop. The alleged victim had enough problems, including lying to her mother, so she wasn't living at home full time and instead was living weeknights at a youth community residence. That makes her prime victim material since her credibility in court would be viewed as low. The details of the case which aren't in dispute show careful planning by the defendants to get the alleged victim to an isolated location where she was unexpectedly outnumbered.

The defense's attempt to make the alleged victim's rebelliousness proof that no rape occurred is nonsense. The angriest and most rebellious I've ever been in my life were during the months after my rape. I fought anything and anybody who tried to control me. My rapist, on the other hand, was a model of good behavior. His actions didn't traumatize him at all or shatter his faith in those who said they loved or cared about him.

So the theory that the alleged victim's acting out proves no rape occurred is a false theory borne of ignorance or self-interest.

This case highlights how many rapist-excusing beliefs are still out there. I only hope the jury doesn't fall for them.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:40 AM   0 comments links to this post

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Death Penalty For Rapists Meant To Protect Most Rapists?

In the comments thread of Pandagon: The creepy uncle factor about the sex crime charges against Former South Dakota Republican representative, Ted Klaudt CFW (who also made references to the book and character Lolita to minimize the alleged actions in this case) wrote:

Calendar age versus psychological age is an important point that N does not overlook . So one can be 15 to 17 in calendar years but a good bit older (or younger) psychologically.

I responded:

This logic is one which supports repeated abuse by making excuses for sexual criminals. Once someone else has violated a child then this logic means it shouldn’t be a crime (or much of one) for the second, third or Nth sexual exploiter or rapist. It also leaves the rapist as the arbiter of psychological age. Since the rapist wants to rape, the flimsiest detail will be used as proof of advanced psychological age.

This logic shifts our judgment from the choices and actions of rapists to the choices and actions of rape victims. If you judge the rapist less harshly because the rape victim didn’t respond as you believe traumatized victims respond then you are thinking like a rapist.

The only acceptable sexual contact for a foster parent toward a foster child is none — period.

Nothing the foster child does or has experienced — before, during or after the contact — changes what is and isn’t acceptable. (end of my Pandagon comment)

This man's attitudes puts a different spin on this story: Texas lawmakers ok death for child rape. On the surface this move seems to say that Texas lawmakers take rape seriously, but CFW's use of the death penalty to show that this man is different from those child rapists who deserve to die shows that the death penalty has the potential to benefit many rapists who are seen as being less than total monsters.

CFW's rapist-excusing attitude is by no means unique to him.

The result is likely to be that a few rapists will be subject to scorn and aggressive prosecution with widespread public support while the rest of the rapists are excused or their actions are minimized. There are enough stories already which seek to highlight the injustices endured by statutory rapists. We don't need stories where non-statutory rapists become defacto victims because "sob, sob" this rapist doesn't deserve to die like those other rapists.

The logic used by many of those who say they take the problem of rape very seriously seems to go something like this:

1) The death penalty is appropriate for child rapists because they are guilty of a serious crime.
2) It wouldn't be appropriate to put this man to death for what he did to that child or those children.
3) Therefore, this man didn't commit a serious crime and is not a true child rapist.

What that means is that the assessment of alleged rapists guilt is often based on personal opinions about whether different rapists should be put to death. This personal assessment in turn is frequently based on stereotypes about what rapists look like and act like in general and victim blaming rather than an assessment of the crime itself or the harm that crime did to its victim or victims.

Instead of the death penalty for rapist being part of a strong opposition to all rapes, the death penalty for some rapists has the potential to benefit the majority of rapists.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:21 AM   0 comments links to this post

Interview With Producer of Documentary Rape Is ...

Check out this interview of Margaret Lazarus, who produced the 30 minute documentary Rape Is ..., conducted by Cate Woodruff, who is an editor for Truthout.

Her film "Rape is..." has also received praise and much attention, appearing in festivals, selected for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and UCLA/Film Department series of "outstanding documentaries" and honored as winner of the 2003 PASS Award from the National Council on Crime.

The interview explains why we should view rape as a human rights issue.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:54 AM   0 comments links to this post

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Former Legislator Opposed To Abortions For Rape Victims Charged With Rape

I found a blog post which includes 10 criminal counts against Ted Alvin Klaudt, a former Republican state representative, in Corson County South Dakota. Just from the details given, the alleged actions are horrific and persistent. In addition to the sex crimes he is also charged with witness tampering and stalking.

Like many alleged rapists who don't at first glance seem like horrible people, his chosen public image was one of morality. Reportedly, he opposed allowing rape victims to get abortions which is a callous enough position without the allegation that he personally created rape victims. That certainly raises the question of whether his position was in reality based on empathy for rapists who wouldn't want their victims to have the power to end a pregnancy these men caused.

The reason I don't trust people who proclaim their righteousness while attacking others for their sin is that a feeling of superiority linked with the righteous entitlement to impose their will or beliefs on other lesser people creates one of the cornerstones needed to commit personal crimes like rape.

Rather than viewing their actions as violent or harmful, they rationalize making decisions for another clearly inferior person. "I decided she should let me do this" sounds much more benign than "I decided to do this to her and I didn't care how traumatized she was by the experience."

In the first rationalization if the other person reports to law enforcement, it is clearly a false accusation. He made a correct assessment and the other person "let him do it" so this other person obviously is either intentionally lying or is making a false assessment of what happened. If there is undeniable evidence of any of his actions he will go from absolutisms to wishywashiness in an instant. "Maybe she sent out the wrong signals." People like this love to judge others, but hate having their actions judged by those who don't understand how the world is supposed to work.

I hope that if the evidence of sexual contact is undeniable that he doesn't resort to the "they asked for it" defense. I know too much to be fooled by that type of defense but far too many people are willing to swallow an adult man as the victim of "sexually mature" girls.

Unfortunately, in this case I've seen people making judgments about the alleged victims' gullibility. This judgment is a mistake. The problem in the situation described by the prosecution wasn't gullibility but lack of known viable options.

Perpetrators exploit situations where others have fewer options and will often work very hard to create situations where their intended victim has the fewest number of choices. What are termed crimes of momentary passion are more often crimes of detailed planning and setup before the first attempt at criminal activity is made.

Rapists need to make their actions seem appropriate in their own minds. This is where the "she was asking for it" mantra comes in. If these people can latch onto belief systems which support their approach to getting what they want, they will do so. It's why I speak out against putting any responsibility for sex crimes on the victim. Rapists are listening even if they are doing so with a distorted filter.

From the AP:

The two girls were among a number of children who were sent to foster care in Klaudt's home under a program that provides foster care for young people who have no safe home to return to after completing programs in juvenile corrections facilities. He had taken in participants of the program since 2001.

The state Corrections Department announced Friday it is conducting a review of its foster care program, and is interviewing participants.

The betrayal of trust contained in these allegations is immeasurable. What does give me hope is that these allegations have now been taken seriously. There are still too many people who see girls who have been in corrections facilities as people who should be assumed to be liars or worse.

A written affidavit filed in court by Long said Klaudt initially denied performing "tests" on the girls, but he changed his story after investigators confronted him with copies of e-mails he sent to one of the girls. Klaudt then said "maybe I did some things I shouldn't have," the attorney general wrote.

This initial denial followed by minimizing is classic sex offender behavior. The minimized admission should be seen as a red flag rather than proof of slight mistakes because offenders need to minimize their actions to feel like they are doing nothing really wrong when they sexually offend.

I've also seen people say this man is obviously a sicko so his behavior and beliefs which were known before the charges were made should not be seen as communicating anything about others who shared those beliefs. That approach is wrong because it is predicated on the belief that this man's alleged criminal actions came out of nowhere. His actions were grounded in his total belief system and are not a contrast to that belief system.

If your total belief system is healthy then it can withstand scrutiny after a case like this surfaces. If you want everyone but yourself and your group scrutinized that to me is a huge red flag that some of what you do or believe is toxic. Of course it's easier to claim that there is a war on you or your group and to further demonize those who don't believe as you do than it is to look for any and all flaws in your implimentation of your belief system.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:47 AM   0 comments links to this post

Minnesota Using DNA To Give Some Of 800 Families Answers

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has a new program which hopes to give the families of some of the 800 missing persons in Minnesota answers by using DNA to match those missing people with the 250 plus unidentified bodies or human remains in the state.

The BCA is sending out DNA kits to law enforcement agencies across the state so there will be a system in place to collect DNA from relatives of the missing person. They are also working with coroners around the state to find out exactly how many deaths are still listed as a Jane or John Doe.

The other change is that in future missing persons cases identifying information such as DNA, dental records and photos will be collected if the person remains missing after 30 days. This length of time was chosen because most people who disappear willingly are found in the first month.

This change is important not just because it gives more families answers, but because the increased focus on missing person's cases may help solve murders. Once the authorities know who a murder victim is, they have a better chance of finding the murderer.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:58 AM   0 comments links to this post

Friday, May 18, 2007

Connecticut Considers Leaving More Children Vulnerable

Connecticut may soon change their statutory rape laws so fewer children are protected from adults or older children/teens.

[a] bill that would increase the allowable age gap between sexually active teens from two to four years is on its way to the Senate floor. If it is enacted, Connecticut's statutory rape law will be similar to those of surrounding states.

When one of the people involved is 15 or younger, a 4 year gap is too wide and leaves far too much room for sexual manipulation and sexual abuse. That other states allow greater age differences shouldn't be used to justify this change.

Proving rape beyond a reasonable doubt can be difficult with the attitudes many people hold about how certain rapes aren't real assaults since they contain no overt physical violence or threats of physical violence but are merely bad judgment or misunderstandings. They don't understand the real workings of sexual coercion. We need to keep strong laws which put certain minors off limits. We need to tell adults and older teens -- don't even try it.

We need to put the child or younger child's interests above the interest of the adult or older child. If you do it illegally and you get caught, your actions led to the charges. Enough of blaming those who call the cops.

When it comes to stories about bills like this which weaken protections for children, I'm bothered that the only perspective given is the nicest of those convicted of this crime. This artificially sanitizes the reality behind statutory rape.

In the case used to show that the change to the law is needed, the details of the sex which led to the charges is given from this man's perspective and therefore can't be taken as objective. He says he ignored the law because he was in love, but I know first hand that love can also be used as an excuse to ignore lack of consent.

His account of the mutuality of the sexual contact must be viewed with skepticism. It can't be enough that the girl caved in. That is not true consent.

If the punishment for his crime was too severe then that's what needs to be changed. For offenders within a certain age of the victim and with no indicators of coercion or physical violence, it makes sense to suspend making them register as sex offenders unless they violate certain conditions of their parole.

Instead the direction seems to be an all or nothing mindset. If the statutory rapist doesn't seem like a complete monster then he shouldn't be found guilty of any crime. If the cost of that change is allowing more children to be sexual targets then that seems to be fine with plenty of people.

It's a mistake to change criminal statutes solely for the interests of the criminals.

If we're going to evaluate laws based only on the character of the guilty then the DUI laws need massive overhauls since many dangerous drivers who could be subject to severe penalties and prison time are nice people who don't intentionally harm others. Going over the point 8 limit can be rationalized with the same ease as many statutory rapes are rationalized. Same with our drug laws. Many convicted felons don't intentionally hurt anyone. But the lawmakers which are for this change don't seem to be taking the same approach to non-sexual crimes.

At least Connecticut now has a law that will require hospitals to provide accurate information about emergency contraception when they are working with rape victims.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:52 AM   1 comments links to this post

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Planned Parenthood's Message About Mandated Reporting

When I read this headline: Planned Parenthood Continues to Harbor Men Who Rape Children from the Christian Newswire I cringed.

As a Christian who is dedicated to fighting rape, these people make me reluctant to reveal that I am a Christian when I talk about the subject of rape. This reaction is because people might assume I hold attitudes which are hostile to rape victims and which keep dangerous victim-blaming attitudes going strong.

Where were all these concerned Christians who are appalled at Planned Parenthood when I needed them? Where were they when women were first setting up rape crisis lines? Where are they now when it comes to actively fighting all forms of sexual violence?

AWOL or busy telling rape victims to repent their immorality or busy telling Christian girls and women how not to tempt their "good" Christian brothers into sin or demanding that traditional families be protected and maintained -- no matter the physical or sexual violence one family member inflicts on the rest.

Sure they seem to be everywhere when a rape victim - victimized through force or manipulation is pregnant. But their concern seems to not be for the rape victim but for the fetus. More telling is that their scorn now is not for the rapists, but for an organization which is attempting to deal with the fallout of sexual contact.

Planned Parenthood is by no means perfect. They don't identify all victims of statutory or non-statutory rape. They disclose to their clients their mandated-reporting policy before they collect data from that client and don't verify volunteered information. But that is not the same as harboring rapists.

Do all Christian leaders and groups who work with pregnant teens, determine the age of the mother and biological father so they can report all possible statutory rapes to the police? When these Christians learn that there is sexual contact which falls under statutory rape and/or mandated reporting laws, do they always report that contact to law enforcement? If not, any claim made against Planned Parenthood must also be made against them.

Where is the outrage by these people when a pastor calls a girl a liar and paddles her when she discloses being sexually abused? Where are their actions in response to a study which found that convicted sex offenders with long-sustained religious beliefs committed more severe sex crimes than their non-religious counterparts? Where are the undercover reporters for Christian publications who are looking to see which officials and employees in Christian organizations "harbor" men who rape children by not just skirting mandated-reporting laws but ignoring them completely?

Clergy members do ignore mandated-reporting laws. They can directly harbor rapists either by refusing to believe victims or by assuming that prayer and spiritual guidance is a good substitute for a criminal investigation.

Is it okay then for Christians, Christian leaders and Christian groups to, as the headline above asserts, harbor men who rape children as long as these Christians never help those children get abortions or birth control?


When the rape victim is merely a vessel to these Christians, their attitudes aren't much different from the attitude held by rapists. Both feel they have the right to control these girls and ignore their wishes and the harm done to them.

Shame on them all.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:36 AM   1 comments links to this post

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Anatomy Of Asking For It

The Girl Next Door has a post titled Asking for it? which gives a couple of scenarios where women were raped and which looks at whether the women were partly responsible for being raped. I definitely understand the motivation behind the question. If in a given situation, a girl or woman sets off a reliable trigger in a serial or latent rapist and these rapists don't rape without these triggers, which they don't control, then that would be a great thing to know.

The first scenario has a provocatively-dressed woman going to a bar and flirting to the point of physical contact. The woman then leaves the bar alone (after some sort of thanks but no thanks to the man in the bar) and before she reaches her home, she is set upon by the man she interacted with at the bar. He then rapes her at knife point.

The second scenario has a woman going to a bar after work with a coworker who has never acted toward her in any way that indicates he has romantic interest in her. She plans to call a taxi so she won't have to walk home alone and the man offers to see her safely home. Once she has her door open, he forces his way inside and rapes her.

In both of these scenarios these rapists talk of their victims asking for it.

Both of these situations are different but the end result was the same, both women were forced to have sex, raped. But did either of them ask for it? Lead the man on? Send out the wrong signals?

These questions are predicated on the assumption that these men's actions weren't premeditated. They assume that the women somehow controlled the men through their actions.

In her descriptions of what she does when she goes out, it's clear that she actively sends out signals to counter any idea that men (other than her boyfriend) might have that they have even a chance of having sex with her.

What does it say about men's attitudes regarding sex when a woman has to actively communicate her lack of consent to all the men around her in order to feel like she isn't asking to be raped?

That effort expected of women who aren't asking for it means that the default answer to the question, "Can I have sex with her?" is yes and that an explicit no from the woman can frequently be ignored with impunity if the woman previously did anything that anyone can view as a signal that the woman might be asking for it.

This prevention strategy only works if the men care about reading the signals correctly and are too dumb to read any signals which tell them to stop (like the woman trying to close her door without letting him in) or if they think she's too risky of a target -- either because she'll be tough to rape or because they believe she'd report being raped and the legal system will prevail on her behalf.

I know too much to give any merit to the idea that any girl or woman has somehow exerted control over a man until he is powerless to stop himself from raping her. If rapists were truly powerless to resist women they desired, they wouldn't be able to control the when and where of rape.

The claim by so many men of powerlessness related to sex is a false one given to deliberately shift responsibility for his actions onto her. These men can be downright smug about how they aren't real rapists like those who jump modestly-dressed strangers with no apparent sex appeal. The smug men only have sex with those who ask for it -- yet all that means is they have found a way to rape without remorse. They've twisted their thinking until they are the victims of all these predatory girls and women.

That makes them more dangerous, not less dangerous, to a larger number of girls and women. These rapists for the most part look like they aren't dangerous. They certainly all express outrage over "real" rapes and feel outrage for the victims of those "real" rapes.

But imagine transferring the methods of "asking for sex" to asking for a tattoo. Nobody would accept the idea that a man asked for a tattoo because he admired other men's tattoos and even went with one of his friends when the other man got a tattoo. He doesn't ask for a tattoo by sending out signals. He asks for a tattoo by asking for a tattoo and cooperating in the tattooing process. If he changes his mind the first time the tattoo needle touches his arm we wouldn't blame him if he was then held down and given a tattoo of the tattooist's choosing.

We'd really have to twist our thinking to say that those forcably tattooed were asking for it and should know the risk they are taking everytime they showed any positive response to tattoos.

But as long as a significant number of people believe the myth that sexual attraction is a force more powerful than gravity and that it is this force which has men falling on women and raping them, all our prevention efforts will do nothing to reduce the number of planned rapes.

Here's the comment I left on her post:

The problem with blaming either victim -- even partially -- is that it supports the rationalizations of rapists. "See, I'm not fully responsible even though I had to pull a knife on her."

It's a mistake if we attribute these men's actions to miscommunication. They both decided to take something not freely given and if you look at the scenarios they in fact made no real effort to have consensual sex with these women. Showing off in a bar with provocative actions toward a woman is not a request for sex. Neither is pretending to be a trustworthy friend.

When someone attempts to have consensual sex with someone capable of saying no, they risk rejection. On the other hand, attempting rape under these conditions has a higher success rate and because of attitudes about the victims, the chances that they will be reported are extremely low.

Both of the men in the given scenarios had the mindset of rapists before the women did anything -- at some point they decided it was okay to take what they wanted and the fact that doing so traumatized another human being didn't diminish their pleasure in the least. They understand that the woman was no partner in what happened.

If we say these women should have acted differently, the most important change would be for them to assume that the men around them are rapists and to act accordingly. Yet many people have a serious problem with viewing women's preventative actions in this light.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 6:49 PM   3 comments links to this post

Opie And Anthony Suspended For 30 Days

It's good that the 2 shock jocks were suspended for 30 days for what is being called crude sex comments but what were really rape comments. In addition to the offensiveness related to laughing at a man imagining brutalizing different women there is the offensiveness for using one homeless man to make all homeless men seem like rapists.

Frankly, they got off too lightly.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:04 AM   2 comments links to this post

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Carnival Against Child Abuse Is Up

The May edition is up at Imaginif's new home go check out all of the entries.

If you've written a post which would fit the scope of this carnival but didn't know about it or you missed the deadline, follow the link to nominate a post to the next edition.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:45 AM   0 comments links to this post

Carnival Against Sexual Violence 23

Welcome to the May 15, 2007 edition 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. Nominations that came in after the nomination deadline will be considered for the next edition of the carnival.

If you support the purpose of the carnival, you can help get the word out about it and all of the posts included in the carnival.

Here are the selections for the 23rd edition of the carnival against sexual violence:

personal stories

In Intimate Intrusions: Interview with Professor Liz Kelly posted at Redemption Blues, we get an article containing an in-depth interview with Professor Liz Kelly of London Metropolitan University, one of the UK's foremost experts on rape and violence against women who believes in the importance of both ideas and action.


In Lies I've Believed About My Sexual Abuse #1 posted at Journeying Forward, we get insights into why a survivor created a false narrative when she first disclosed her abuse and how learning that compliance with an abuser was a method of defense rather than true compliance helped her understand the dynamics of what she experienced.

In The Insensitive and the Cringing posted at The Insensitive and the Cringing - Comments, we get a discussion which brings to light what a rape survivor feels when others use the word rape too casually.

creative expression

In Portrait and into the deep posted at My Soul's Phantasm, we get 2 powerful poems.


In How Many Before It's Heeded? posted at Threat Assessment and Management, we get a discussion of a judge's comments about having no ignored anw who is blamed when someone doesn't accept no for an answer.

In Why Men Just Shouldn't Post About the Rape of Women posted at Cool Beans, we get a discussion of a paramedic in Portland who posted details of a rape he learned about through his work. He didn't break any laws but gave enough information about the case on his MySpace page so reporters were able to locate the rape survivor.

In New at SSRN - Interesting Take on Prison Rape posted at Sex Crimes, we get information about research into the impact of the state controlling prisoners sexual activities on prison rape and on improving decision making.

In Technology and the Prosecutor posted at Prosecutor Post-Script, we get a discussion about how something as simple as a digital camera can help with prosecutions and how often the budget doesn't allow for tools like this.

In Sex by Fraud posted at Sex Crimes, we get a discussion of the Massachussets Supreme Court ruling dismissing the rape case where a man pretended to be his brother in order to have sex with his brother's girlfriend.

In Government provides additional help to victims of family violence and bullying posted at Holly's Fight for Justice, we get information about anti-violence efforts in Alberta including investing an additional $2.6 million to help the communities and organizations provide services.

In Not Guilty By Reason Of Brain Scan? posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open, I discuss the defense in a brutal sexual assault case where no jury would buy the "it was consensual."

In 62 sex offenders can't be found posted at Holly's Fight to Stop Violence, we learn about the Memphis police department's efforts to find 62 registered sex offenders before they have to issue felony warrants against them for failing to comply with the registry rules.

media watch

In Assault Victim Causes HBO's Suffering posted at I'm sick of your insane demands., we get a discussion of how a news story focuses mostly on the impact charges will have on the man's life and his professional responsibilities.

In Rape Jokes About Condi Rice on Shock Jock Radio posted at Tennessee Guerilla Women, we get a discussion about employees of CBS radio called Opie and Anthony who made graphic references to raping Secretary of State Rice on satellite radio.

In Warning All Girls Online posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open, I discuss a PSA that in essense scolds girls for revealing too much and does nothing to change boys' and men's exploitive behavior.

In Judge a tree by its (strange) fruit posted at Undercover Black Man, we get a discussion of the fallout of an article which reinforces the myth that rapists are mostly black men and that white men rarely if ever rape black women.

raising awareness

In Waiting list underscores sexual assault centre's challenge posted at Holly's Fight for Justice, we learn about efforts to improve the resources for sexual assault victims in Hamilton Ontario and accross the province.

In Sexual Assault Awareness Month posted at Threat Assessment and Management, we get reminders about harmful attitudes which increase the danger for all of us.

In Domestic violence and women with disabilities posted at Holly's Fight for Justice, we learn that compared to women without disabilities, women with disabilities are more likely to experience violence and for more extended periods of time.

In More Third Wave Feminism and Rape posted at Give Me Ethos or Give Me Death!, we get a discussion about the rhetoric used to help women prevent rape.

In ‘Mills is a one-man destroyer of interracial outreach.’ posted at Undercover Black Man, we get a discussion of comments by Larry Auster, who wrote an article about black-on-white rape, when elements of his article were challenged.

In Rape has nothing to do with sex posted at I never leave the house without incident, we get a discussion of how many men have the misperception that most acts of sexual violence are an issue of supply and demand.

In Are Men By Nature Sexually Exploitative? posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open, I discuss the beliefs behind the insistance that all rape prevention focus exclusively on helping girls and women avoid rape.


In Campaign against violence toward women and girls posted at Psychology and Crime News, we learn about a petition drive to make it clear to congress that it isn't just a few people who are serious about wanting to stop sexual violence.

In Increasing Honest Responding on Cognitive Distortions in Child Molesters: The Bogus Pipeline Revisited posted at Psychology and Crime News, we get a discussion of research done to see whether child molesters changed their answers on self-assessment questionaires when they thought they were hooked up to lie detectors.

In Profile of a Rapist, Stalker and/or Abuser posted at Holly's Fight for Justice, we get information on troubling character traits which don't always lead to hurting others through rape, but which most rapists have to one level or another and which they display in small, often non-sexual ways. We also get information on a character trait which can make you vulnerable: wanting to believe so much that troubling character traits are dismissed or excused.


In MODESTY BUSES IN ISRAEL UNDER FIRE FOR DISCRIMINA... posted at BARBARA'S TCHATZKAHS, we get a discussion of issues raised when a woman was attacked after refusing to move to the back of the bus with the other women.

In The Plight of Muslim Wives in America posted at Freedom, we get a discussion of the stigma attached to women who try to leave their abusers and other related issues.


In Revisiting the Stanford Prison Experiment posted at Psychology and Crime News, we learn about research into whether the volunteers for the Stanford experiment are representative of the general public or if they have traits which make them more likely to be abusive when give the role of guard.

In slings and arrows posted at Taking Steps, we get a discussion of how using terms like nutjob for someone who says something offensive absolves them of responsibility for their actions while insulting those with mental illnesses.Instead of using insulting labels, we get suggestions for how to use accuracy to address people we adamently disagree with.

In The Women Lie About Rape Mantra posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open, I discuss a case where a woman was charged with perjury for a lie which supported a man accused of rape.

That concludes the 23rd edition of the carnival against sexual violence. Thank you for taking the time to visit this carnival and thank you to the authors of all the posts included in this edition.

The next submission deadline is May 29 at 11 pm. The 24th edition will be out on June 1 and marks the first anniversary of the carnival.

To nominate a post (your own or someone else's) to the next edition of carnival against sexual violence, use our carnival submission form. Links to everything related to the carnival can be found on the blog dedicated to this carnival,

Marcella Chester

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:09 AM   0 comments links to this post