Monday, February 16, 2009

Rape Denial Education Funded By Ohio

An abstinence-only education organization which operates in Ohio with public funding, Abstinence 'Till Marriage (ATM) is teaching teens that premarital sex is bad and they are doing so by echoing and amplifying dangerous rape myths.

They unfortunately make premarital sex and premarital rape indistinguishable in what they call the Party Room. Their disclosure however shows that this organization knows the reality of what they deny and who they blame.

We must emphasize that any crime occurring as a result of a risky decision is still a crime and ATM Education strongly encourages teens to seek a trusted adult or notify the proper authorities in such cases.
Translation: even if we believe it's your fault you were raped (rape occurred as a result of your risky decision not as a result of the rapist's decisions), our legal department has told us that we can't excuse your rapist from legal responsibility.

My message to teens is that anyone who agrees with this victim blaming or rape denial is not a trusted adult and to avoid making your first disclosure to these adults. RAINN has an online service where you can disclose confidentially and get help on what follow up actions you can take.
If you have disclosed to those who buy into the messages in this Party Room understand that their opinions are not reliable. This is especially true if they try to push you into denying that what was done to you was rape or if they push you to forgive your rapist.

This Party Room scenario is educational, but not in the way this program intended. It highlights the rationalization of rapists and how so-called expert and non- expert non-rapists are quick to align themselves against teen rape victims and to ignore important evidence.

Rochelle is the alleged rape victim.

Jason is the alleged rapist.

Monica is the alleged rapist's ex-girlfriend.

Tanner is supposedly a bystander with no emotional connection to any of the other 3.

Rochelle says in part: "Jason had been drinking and started making the move on me. I told him I liked him as a friend, but he didn't have a chance for anything else." She says she took the keys so he wouldn't drive drunk.

Jason's story is that Rochelle was all over him at the party, but this story is contradicted by his ex-girlfriend Monica's story. She states that it was Jason who was after Rochelle and that every boy wanted Rochelle because she has a reputation for "putting out." She states that Jason had something to prove which gives Jason a motive for forcing himself on Rochelle so he could use her as a trophy to soothe his wounded ego.

Tanner is quoted as having offered to drive Jason home with Rochelle turning him down because Jason needed more than a ride him. This incriminating statement comes from someone who clearly does have a connection with Jason yet who positions himself as not having this connection. None of the other 3 characters make any reference to Tanner's offer to drive Jason home so this interaction may not have happened in any form.

Monica's story gives Tanner another motive to lie. Resentment. All the boys were after Rochelle because of her reputation. This would include Tanner. Yet he watched her leave with Jason and likely assumed they would have sex because of Rochelle's reputation. For many teens Rochelle's reputation makes it impossible for her to be viewed as someone who could be raped.

Jason's story of what happened once Rochelle drove his car away from the party with him in the passenger seat is contradicted by Monica's testimony. According to someone who believed him innocent he was described as a boy with a goal, but according to him he continued to be the pursued not the pursuer.

After the alleged rape (in the middle of the night) Jason went to Tanner's house, got in without waking Tanner's parents, borrowed Tanner's cell phone and called his ex-girlfriend and begged her to take him back -- going so far as to declare his love for her. Since he allegedly consented to have sex with another girl shortly before this declaration of love this declaration is a lie. There is an obvious motive for this middle of the night begging. He needed Monica to be his ally and fast.

The scenario's choice of having Rochelle's father confront her so that she discloses immediately is stereotypical for what people expect when they believe a girl lied about rape to get out of trouble. Using this stereotype directs unsuspecting readers to a set conclusion which is rape denial. This is furthered by Rochelle's suspended driver's license and reputation as a girl who "puts out."

Monica defends Jason because he never raped her, but acknowledges that Jason respected her while he had no respect for Rochelle or other girls. The double standard where good girls must be respected while bad girls don't require respect makes this experience meaningless at pointing toward Jason's innocence.

Tellingly, Monica also admits that she gave Jason oral sex to keep him happy which means that she didn't do that freely. That's abusive even though in the scenario Monica doesn't see it that way. If the girl Jason "loved" doesn't get full respect related to her sexual boundaries, the girl Jason clearly doesn't love wouldn't get even that much respect.

The unrealistic scenario continues by showing the cops going to Tanner's house before the end of the night to interview him and when they discover Jason is there they immediately arrested Jason. This paints a false picture about what happens after someone reports being raped by a person they know.

In police departments that are hostile to many rape victims Rochelle would be discouraged from reporting and possibly even blocked from having a forensic exam because she willingly got into a car with her alleged rapist. She might even be threatened with being charged with filing a false police report. In better police departments interviews would be requested -- and not in the middle of the night -- from all involved before the police would consider arresting anyone.

This description of the middle of the night interview request and arrest reinforces the myth that all a girl has to do is say she was raped and the boy or man she accuses will be immediately arrested on her word alone.

At the end of this scenario readers are asked whose story is least credible. There is another disclaimer.

There are no right or wrong answers, just opinions.
This is butt covering and a lie. This scenario directs naive and biased readers to either call Rochelle a liar or to blame her for what was done to her while the actual evidence they present supports Rochelle's claim that she was raped and undermines Jason's claim that he was falsely accused.

Having a reputation for "putting out" actually increases the odds that a girl will be raped by boys who feel entitled to take whatever they want from that girl.

By making this false claim that this case is inherently unprovable this abstinence-only group is providing practical support for rapists. If a boy like Jason rapes a girl like Rochelle he may be shocked to find himself charged and rightfully convicted.

While their disclaimer tells those who are raped to disclose, their summation directly discourages those who are raped by friends to report that rape since, "you can be certain that arguments regarding their stories, their decisions, and their character will be fierce."

In other words, Rochelle's reputation will be used against her no matter how she got this reputation. In this scenario the only evidence of Rochelle's sexual history comes from the alleged rapist, his friend and his girlfriend who took him back. This could be a lie they created to make them all seem more credible than the alleged rape victim. If other teens reject the possibility that Jason could be a rapist they would likely feel justified in spreading lies about Rochelle or harassing her.

After numerous dangerous messages, ATM's Party Room closes by positioning Jason (who they admit could be a rapist) as "extremely vulnerable to his circumstances" which included being with a "hot" girl who comforted him.

This isn't vulnerability, this is a dangerous rationalization. The party room ends up providing support for teen rapists who might have previously feared being convicted for their crimes. ATM ends up telling these rapists they have nothing to worry about except getting STDs from their rape victims.

H/T: Feministe

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:59 AM   0 comments links to this post


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