Sunday, May 31, 2009

Pro-Life Pro-Murder?

via Feministe I learned of another murder related to those who perform abortions.

Dr. George Tiller was murdered today as he ushered at his Kansas church. This wasn't the first act of terrorism committed against Dr. Tiller because he performed late-term abortions which eliminates any theory that this was a random act of violence. In short he was specifically targeted and he was assassinated.

Pro-life groups provided support for this particular act of violence against this particular man through their choice of tactics and rhetoric.

It's no surprise to me that the suspect in this murder is a man since for too many pro-life men the issue is about controlling and limiting all girl's and women's choices related to pregnancy. As an anonymous commenter recently explained to me:
What is rape? Is it just a man forcing himself upon a woman to gain entry to her sex? Or is it the attempt of those with NO reproductive rights to seize reproduction from those with a reproductive monopoly?

Operation Rescue issued a statement which included the following:
Operation Rescue has worked for years through peaceful, legal means, and through the proper channels to see him brought to justice. We denounce vigilantism and the cowardly act that took place this morning.

This is very disturbing statement. Dr. Tiller wasn't a criminal, but Operation Rescue has clearly framed him as a criminal and as a murderer. By declaring the man who murdered Dr. Tiller a vigilante and not a murderer Operation Rescue supports what they are now claiming to oppose.

When they reference my religion, Christianity, to back their position and their actions they turn my stomach. I'm sure the man who walked into a Christian church with the intent to murder also uses Christianity as his excuse for his crime. This makes him no better than any other terrorist including those involved in the 9/11 attacks. Those who support him or helped him rationalize this crime are no better than those who supported the 9/11 hijackers or helped them rationalize that crime.

Many doctors have been terrorized out of performing abortions and this murder raises the threat level. This unfortunately syncs up with the thinking of the anonymous man who sees many rapes as acts of righting someone else's wrong.

Until the abortion clinic bombing in the 1980s I respected the hard line pro-life position even if I didn't agree with it. But when the hard line pro-lifers started resorting to terrorism and when many seemingly less violent pro-lifers made excuses for terrorism ("Of course I'm against murder but one or 2 murders may prevent thousands of murders.") or gave practical support for this type of terrorism (donating to the legal fund of murderers) I stopped believing that this political movement had anything to do with a respect for life. This latest murder again reinforces my belief that hard line pro-lifers don't respect life and instead hold life very cheaply.

This is reinforced by the way pro-life groups frequently stage even their non-violent protests. Those protests show disrespect for the lives of those they confront as those people seek medical services. The tactics of the pro-lifers pretending to Planned Parenthood that they are under the age of consent ring false when they claim to care about underage rape victims. The goal seems to be to take away a resource for young rape victims not to ensure compliance to the mandatory reporting laws.

Those who believe abortion is wrong and who are not trying to force girls and women to give birth should not themselves get abortions and they should not do anything which might cause an unplanned pregnancy.

On a larger scale they should shift their focus to working toward reducing the demand and/or need for abortions. This means both genuine rape and pregnancy prevention and increasing the options beyond adoption for those who experience unplanned pregnancies. It also means increasing the funding for research into health issues related to pregnancy so that no woman has to fear that pregnancy will lead to a quick or early death. Those who are genuinely pro-life will also be pro-affordable health care for all.

Only then could the political label pro-life possibly be trustworthy.

Update (6/1): Randall Terry of Operation Rescue issued a statement to his followers (see video on Crooks & Liars), says Dr. Tiller was a mass murderer who deserved to be executed only he should have been allowed time to get right with his maker. This statement makes it clear that Operation Rescue is focused on its own Jihad and is not pro-life. Dr. Tiller's death was one of their goals.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:34 PM   0 comments links to this post

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Man Posts False Sex Offender Registry Notices As Revenge

From story about a case in Ogden, Utah:

The carefully plotted revenge of the husband came first on April 30, when more than 30 notices were tied to doorknobs in the victim's apartment complex accusing him of membership on the state's sex offender registry for rape of a 5-year-old.

"He's not a sex offender," Ogden Police Lt. Loring Draper said. "That wasn't a very good thing to do." The bright orange fliers bore an exact copy of the apartment complex's logo and included half a dozen names of offenders who are really on the sex offender registry, complete with the distance of their residence from the apartment complex, just as the state's sex offender registry Web site lists them.
Those who rant in the online comments sections of news sites about false rape allegations (whether or not the police believe an allegation is false) and who focus on describing women as vindictive would likely latch onto this case immediately if the person who created these fake fliers had been a woman no matter what motivated this hoax. This case would be seen as proof that women have no ethics.

The victim in this case had a one-night stand with the wife of the man who created these fliers. That angry husband later threw a bucket of feces on the victim's apartment balcony.

"I'm going to take this as far as I can, prosecution, hire a lawyer, file a lawsuit, whatever I have to do," he said. Police were called again and a suspect was formally identified as the betrayed husband, who was interviewed.

Two weeks later, with no further incidents, feelings have since abated somewhat on both sides, with a happy ending pending, apparently.

The victim in this case now hopes that no charges will be filed against the man who created the fake fliers and who threw the bucket of feces.

On the issue of the feces, I'm fine with abiding by the victim's wishes, but I disagree on the issue of the fake fliers. This isn't the first instance where fake sex offender fliers have been created and this flier impacted all who saw it. The angry husband abused a system designed to help protect public safety. He needs to be held accountable.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:28 AM   0 comments links to this post

Friday, May 29, 2009

Date Rape And The Volunteers

The beginning of a Sexual Homicide Exchange Profilers article titled, What's Booze Got To Do With It? Sadly, Just About Everything by Pat Brown should be titled What's victim blaming got to do with it? Sadly, Just About Everything.

Date rape is the most prevalent form of rape occurring in the United States today. However, very few of these crimes are ever prosecuted. Why? Not many are reported to the police and not many can be proven in a court of law. Date rape continues unabated because women haven't wised up to the reason they become victims of this type of criminal activity. In a twist on the saying, "There are no victims, only volunteers"….I add, "Where there are volunteers, there are victims".
Calling victims "volunteers" unfortunately supports popular denial of date rape and it supports the continued unabated occurrence of date rape because when you volunteer for something you freely consent. And if you freely consent it's not rape.

Those who genuinely volunteer are the rapists and the observers who focus on the victim's alcohol consumption or anything else the victim does instead of focusing on the actions of rapists. But they are not volunteering themselves, they are volunteering other people to become rape victims.

Ms. Brown knows she's stepped in it with this opening by telling readers not to email her and tries to prop up her view of rape victims as volunteers.

A crime is something that occurs because a person with a criminal mind can take advantage of another person with relatively low risk of penalty by society being enacted against him. At least the offender must view the risk of penalty as low. Date rape is an easy crime to get away with because the offender believes that the woman will not press charges and if she did, she wouldn't be able to prove her case in court. Why?

Because the woman is usually inebriated at the time. She is drinking and making poor decisions about whom to be with that evening and poor decisions on which activities should engage in. She is an easy choice of a target for the offender.

Ms. Brown gets the reason for the difficulty of prosecuting these types of rapes all wrong. The problem is not that the victim was inebriated and made poor decisions. The problem is how these non-violent decisions are labeled, judged and then compared to the criminal decisions made by that person's rapist. This can lead to people talking about "deserved" rapes.

In the hypothetical example Pat Brown uses which features a repeat date rapist she calls Joe, the rape is premeditated from the first contact in the bar. However, by framing what Joe does as being a result of the choices made by the rape victim, Sarah, Ms. Brown provides support for the rationalizations used by serial rapists. This allows people to minimize the importance of Joe's predatory behavior which included lies and creating a drink with the specific goal to incapacitate Sarah.

BUT, ALL the women have gotten themselves into a situation, which THEY themselves feel unable to go to court to prove that a rape really did occur.
This is inaccurate. The problem is not proof, the problem is bigotry based on the idea that it is the women who have, "gotten themselves into a situation," and therefore have caused their own rapes.

Following is a list of the reasons that prevent women from feeling able to file charges and win in a court of law:

1. Presently sexually active
2. On the pill
3. On a date
4. In his or her car willingly
5. In his apartment alone
6. In her apartment alone
7. At a party drinking
8. In a bar drinking.
9. Lack of extreme fear - not enough fear to fight for one's life and not enough fear to run half-naked into a hallway and be embarrassed.
10. Above all, no REAL evidence of rape, only sexual activity. It is a he said, she said kind of situation

This list has nothing to do with genuine proof and is all about the popular bigotry which gets used by rapists. Using this perspective all of these items become defacto legal consent. That's the problem and anyone who uses any of these listed items as a reason to doubt a rape case has chosen pro-rapist bigotry over justice.

The list item #9 on lack of extreme fear sticks out because it highlights how skewed many people's view of consent is. If you didn't fight for your life or run screaming (which assumes you could do one or both of these if you really wanted to) then it's assumed that boys and men can proceed even when the girl or woman hasn't consented.

The last item on the list is not only bigotry it is false. Testimony is real evidence in all types of crimes. And testimony is far more than, "He raped me."

When people talk about REAL evidence in rape cases they often mean non-sexual violence: gunshot wounds or cuts to the neck of the victim. But in many rapes, stranger and non-stranger, the only violence is sexual. When this isn't sufficient to consider rape criminal enough for a conviction then rape by itself gets treated by our criminal justice system as if it is legal.

Once this becomes the view then there is no basis for demanding that boys and men not commit rape.

In this example, Sarah might have later freely consented which is often used as evidence that a rape victim actually consented. But Joe's actions in Ms. Brown's example show he wasn't working toward consensual sexual contact. His single minded goal was sexual assault. He didn't get a clear, "no" because he wasn't interested in finding out what Sarah wanted or didn't want. He was only interested in getting her to an isolated location and getting her intoxicated to the point where she couldn't stop his assault.

She didn't exhibit extreme fear because Joe was a non-stranger who lied repeatedly to reduce her fear and then he used the drink he made to get Sarah more impaired than she would be otherwise.

Yet she's the one who gets scolded by Brown for her decisions.

Brown gets it wrong in other ways. Girls and women who have been victims of stranger rape and who have not been drinking can also choose not to report. The backlash against those who were raped isn't limited to the subset of rapes called date rape.

Girls and women who drink are also not the only easy choice of target.

Women in comas are also easy targets. But the public response to these rapes is far different than it is to date rapes. The actions of rapists who target those in comas are the same or less severe than the actions of those who rape drunk women since these rapists don't have to work to incapacitate or trick their intended rape victim.

Despite these rapists' similarities the popular perception of these rapists couldn't be more different. The difference comes from the attitudes about the victims those rapists targeted. The comatose rape victim is an innocent victim. The drunk rape victim is too rarely described as innocent and too often is bombarded with more scorn than her rapist will ever face.

This volunteering to help date rapists begins with investigators who don't want to investigate these types of rapes and who may refuse to do an official report and who may block a rape victim from getting a rape kit. Some investigators volunteer to help rapists by making false accusations against rape victims.

Once non-stranger rape is reported in the media many people are quick to volunteer that the victim, if not an outright liar, made a poor decision which nullifies that victim's lack of consent. Since most rapes have no neutral witnesses they will volunteer to support that rapist being set free "to protect the innocent" of course -- even though this most often protects the guilty.

So how does Ms. Brown propose to eliminate date rape?

IF YOU [being female] want to prevent date rape, follow these tips:

1. Make sure you value sex as something special
2. Don't go out with men you do not know well
3. Don't drink in bars and leave with anyone but your female friends
4. Don't go to parties with alcohol flowing and back bedrooms available.
5. Drive yourself to and from places. That way no one can rape you in a car and you will be careful not to drink and drive, so you won't drink much, period.
6. Don't act like a slut. Drinking, giggling stupidly, telling sex jokes and acting in a sexually suggestive manner shows a guy you are an the one to pick for a one night stand, or, if you don't come through with sex, a simple little rape.

This list does nothing to prevent date rape. Item #6 sends a dangerous message to rapists. Acting in a sexually suggestive manner shows men nothing except you are acting in a sexually suggestive manner. Brown is telling men what this behavior means and what crime they can get away with if Brown has steered them wrong.
Rape is never acceptable but women need to understand that making it easier for criminals to commit crime is not acceptable either. Remember, ladies, YOU are partly responsible for the way men view women and you are not doing yourself and your female friends any service by encouraging date rape as a weekend hobby.
The problem with these statements is that Ms. Brown herself is making it easier for date rapists to commit their crimes by putting all the responsibility for date rape onto potential rape victims and that encourages date rape as a weekend hobby. The, "but," which follows, "rape is never acceptable," contradicts her claim.

As long as we view the problem of date rape as being caused by the behavior of the victims and not the behavior of the perpetrators this type of crime will continue and the widespread injustice against rape victims will continue.

Here's how Brown could have presented her date rape prevention list based on her values:

IF YOU [boys and men] want to prevent date rape, follow these tips:

1) Make sure you value sex as something special
2) Don't go out with girls or women you do not know well
3) Don't drink in bars and leave with anyone but your male friends
4) Don't go to parties with alcohol flowing and back bedrooms available.
5) Drive yourself to and from places with no female passengers either way. That way you won't be tempted to rape someone in a car and you will be careful not to drink and drive, so you won't drink much, period.
6) Don't act like a sexual predator. Understand that girls or women drinking, giggling stupidly, telling sex jokes and acting in a sexually suggestive manner shows you nothing about whether they will consent to have sex with you.

But as I highlighted at the beginning of this post, Pat Brown fails to demand that boys and men work to prevent date rape. That's a very dangerous oversight and rape victims will be the one's who pay the price.

H/T: Sheila


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:31 AM   2 comments links to this post

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Underlying The Economic Crisis Is A human rights time bomb

From Amnesty International USA's press release on the 2009 annual report on the state of human rights worldwide:

(London) The world is sitting on a social, political and economic time bomb fuelled by an unfolding human rights crisis, said Amnesty International’s Secretary General Irene Khan today as she launched Amnesty International Report 2009: State of the World’s Human Rights.

“Underlying the economic crisis is an explosive human rights crisis,” said Irene Khan. “The economic downturn has aggravated abuses, distracted attention from them and created new problems. In the name of security, human rights were trampled on. Now, in the name of economic recovery, they are being relegated to the back seat.”

“The world needs a new global deal on human rights – not paper promises but commitment and concrete action from governments to defuse the human rights time bomb. World leaders must invest in human rights as purposefully as they are investing in the economy.”
We cannot afford to ignore human rights abuses and we can't just oppose human rights abuses committed by or in other countries. Not surprisingly violence against women is one of the human rights abuses highlighted, but it is not the only human rights abuse which needs to be eliminated.

Here's the link to the 2009 Amnesty International report released today and here's a direct link to the section on violence against women.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:00 PM   1 comments links to this post

Nomination Deadline Tonight

Tonight at 11 pm is the next deadline for the Carnival Against Sexual Violence so please take a few minutes and nominate a post you've written or a post you've read.

A few people have had trouble with the official nomination form, if this happens to you, please let me know by email (my address is in my profile) with a subject line of carnival nomination or leave a comment with a link to the nominated post as soon as possible.

Together we can help reduce the acceptance of rape and the myths related to sexual violence which support rape and injustice against rape victims.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:05 AM   2 comments links to this post

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Marriage Equality And Human Rights

What amazed me about so much of the support for state constitutional amendments opposing same sex marriage, such as the just upheld Prop. 8 in California, is the amount of energy which these people used which we don't see put into fighting actions related to marriage which don't involve 2 consenting adults.

If all those who worked to get Prop 8 passed had been as dedicated to stopping the widespread marital violence (primarily husband against wife) which undermines heterosexual marriage then there would be no need for a national domestic violence hotline. If all those people became as active against marital rape and abuse, with no accompanying victim blaming, that would strengthen heterosexual marriage in a way that no state constitutional amendment ever could.

So why are so many pro-marriage advocates AWOL from the effort to stop domestic violence? Too often the answer is, "Of course we are against domestic violence, but ..." Or their solution is to focus on the actions of the victims of domestic violence. Or they oppose efforts to prevent this type of violence among adults and teens because those efforts are inclusive of all types of couples. An example of this is going on right now in South Carolina.

Gay rights advocates on Tuesday protested the exclusion of gay and lesbian relationships from a South Carolina bill meant to curb teen dating violence. [...] The measure requires school districts to create dating violence prevention policies for sixth- through 12th-graders and print the policies in school handbooks or Web sites by next summer.

Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg, said the bill was hijacked by homophobia, as the House voted May 14 to add the “heterosexual” caveat. Rep. Greg Delleney, R-Chester, said he pushed for the change to “preserve traditional values in South Carolina's public schools,” and not allow for teaching about same-sex relationships. Democrats blocked final approval of the bill Thursday in the House.

This move by Rep. Delleney means that fighting non-violent same-sex relationships is a higher priority than fighting violence inside dating relationships. By excluding mention of non-heterosexual relationships in the bill those who voted for this amendment inadvertently supported creating an image where violent equals heterosexual.

A heterosexual marriage is destroyed each time a husband kills his wife or vice versa. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, on average each day in the US more than 3 women are killed by their husbands or boyfriends.

Pro-marriage advocates often oppose the work of feminists related to violence against women, but since feminists have been focused on domestic violence the number of men murdered by intimate partners has dropped by 75% from 1976 to 2005.

When a wife leaves an abusive marriage she is not the one who has destroyed the marriage, she is merely abandoning an environment which is not safe for her or her children.

If a husband built and ran a meth lab in the basement of the family's home, nobody would be scolding that wife for removing herself and their children from that toxic building before it exploded. Yet too often the traditional marriage supporters save their outrage for victims of marital violence who get divorced and for same-sex couples who get married.

I guess the problem comes down to whether your emphasis is on supporting traditional or supporting marriage. Husbands murdering their wives has a long tradition, but I for one do not want to protect that tradition. Violence within a marriage attacks the foundation of the marriage as does any system which supports that violence.

If we want heterosexual marriage upheld then we need to address what is attacking it from within. Violence is the number 1 culprit.

This video highlights that the issue of government recognized same-sex marriage is about advancing human rights.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 1:05 PM   0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Flasher's DNA Matches Unsolved Rape Cases

From ABC Australia:
Adelaide Magistrates Court has heard that a man accused of exposing himself this year has been linked to two rape cases from 15 years ago.

What this story does is make it clear that those who minimize or ignore non-contact sex crimes are often minimizing or ignoring the crimes of those who have committed sex crimes which nobody would dismiss. Those who are victims of this type of crime have no idea what their perpetrators are capable of doing to their victims which contradicts the idea some people have that this is a victimless crime.

All those who are charged with any type of sex crime -- contact or non-contact -- should be required to submit a DNA sample so that sample can be compared to past unsolved crimes. And the DNA identifiers should be kept on file -- conviction or no conviction -- so they can be matched to future crimes.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:43 AM   2 comments links to this post

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Holiday Weekend

This isn't a holiday weekend for everybody, but here in the US I'm going to enjoy the Memorial Day holiday.

I'll tweet through the weekend as I see items of interest, but probably won't blog again until Tuesday.

Hope everybody has a safe weekend.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:31 AM   0 comments links to this post

Friday, May 22, 2009

Irish Catholic Church Child Abuse

From the Guardian:
For 10 years [Patrick] Walsh has campaigned alongside the group Irish Survivors of Child Abuse to expose a system that allowed thousands of vulnerable children to be exploited and sexually abused while in the care of both church and state. [...]

From the mid-1920s until the early 1970s thousands of Irish children officially in the care of the state were subjected to a double regime of sexual abuse and wageless slavery. Ireland's notorious industrial schools and orphanages – all run by Catholic orders – were home to boys and girls who had been officially declared criminals by the courts.
This man's efforts highlight once again why all allegations must be taken seriously immediately even when they are made against those who seem above reproach or when they are made by those who seem completely unsympathetic, untrustworthy or self-serving.

His efforts also highlight why telling survivors to "get over it" is counter productive to public safety. If every survivor "let it go" there would be even more victims.

I'm sure many children who left these institutions acted out in ways which would make them seem less moral than their abusers. The effects of trauma can be ugly, but that should never be an excuse to dismiss allegations of abuse.

Since an entire environment can become abusive the official oversight of institutions, especially those where children or adults are not free to leave, need to go beyond surface-level inspections and responding to allegations.

Some of the boys who were abused toured with the Artane Boys Band and people who listened to them perform likely assumed that all those boys were well cared for and much better off than they had been before they were sent to an institution. The abuse they faced likely ensured that the boys would maintain the facade that those boys were happy and treated well.

From the Irish Times:

The commission, which was chaired by Mr Justice Seán Ryan, heard from more than 500 witnesses who said they had been sexually abused. There were also many reports of injuries, including broken bones, lacerations and bruising.

Eight chapters in the report are devoted to the Christian Brothers, the largest provider of residential care for boys in the State. More allegations were made against the Christian Brothers than all other male orders combined.

The report sharply criticises the Department of Education for failing to carry out proper inspections. “The deferential and submissive attitude of the Department of Education towards the congregations compromised its ability to carry out its statutory duty of inspection,” the report says. The commission, which was set up in 1999, investigated industrial schools, reformatories, orphanages, institutions for children with disabilities and ordinary day schools. It heard evidence covering the period from 1914 to the present but the bulk of its work addressed the period from the early 1930s to the early 1970s.

More than 1,700 men and women gave evidence of the abuse they suffered as children in institutions, with over half reporting sexual abuse. Accounts of abuse given in relation to 216 institutions are detailed in the report, which runs to nearly 3,000 pages.
These numbers are a reminder that those who perpetrated this violence were not a few bad seeds. Much of this abuse was likely used as a tool to control children while the rest would happen simply because those who perpetrated this violence knew they could get away with it. For the abusers abusing children became normal.

When people say never again the only way for this statement to be a reality is to ensure that the systems are required to be healthy, respectful and accountable.

Some responses I've seen to this report seem to focus not on the violence but on the age of the victims, but this violence should be just as unacceptable and repulsive if it were committed against incarcerated adults. Systematic physical and sexual abuse are wrong, period.

Children are more vulnerable and abuse at an earlier age can severely alter emotional and physical development. That definitely needs to be considered when issues of victim compensation or disability are discussed. But it shouldn't be the only reason we are outraged.

Unfortunately not everyone is outraged. Some, including the Catholic League, have chosen to minimize this pervasive violence.

Regarding sexual abuse, “kissing,” and “non-contact including voyeurism” (e.g., what it labels as “inappropriate sexual talk”) make the grade as constituting sexual abuse. Moreover, one-third of the cases involved “inappropriate fondling and contact.” None of this is defensible, but none of it qualifies as rape.

"Rape, on the other hand, constituted 12 percent of the cases. As for the charge that “Irish Priests” were responsible, some of the abuse was carried out by lay persons, much of it was done by Brothers, and about 12 percent of the abusers were priests (most of whom were not rapists).

"The Irish report suffers from conflating minor instances of abuse with serious ones, thus demeaning the latter. When most people hear of the term abuse, they do not think about being slapped, being chilly, being ignored or, for that matter, having someone stare at you in the shower. They think about rape.

"By cheapening rape, the report demeans the big victims. But, of course, there is a huge market for such distortions, especially when the accused is the Catholic Church."
This way of thinking matches the rationalization of sexual abusers and rapists who give themselves permission to abuse by comparing themselves favorably with the "real" rapists. In their minds other people who demand accountability for all abuse and all violence are the only ones who are harming the "real" victims.

The Catholic League has communicated that it is only interested in the "big victims" (and the biggest victim of all seems to be the Catholic Church leadership) which means they are not genuinely interested in the victims who were raped. This is because all of the small acts of violence and disrespect provide the foundation needed to support the "big" acts of sexual violence mentioned in this report.

Those who perpetrated this violence and those who protected perpetrators should be named and they should be held legally responsible for their crimes. This is needed not only for the sake of past victims, it is needed to help protect potential future victims from potential future perpetrators. If past perpetrators get away with their crimes even when those crimes become public knowledge then potential perpetrators who are in positions of authority will make their decisions based on this expectation. And those decisions will harm many people.

Lack of accountability works directly against prevention. Acknowledgement of past crimes is not enough.

Accountability is critical to prevention. So the question being answered is: How serious are officials and citizens about preventing future violence?


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:10 AM   7 comments links to this post

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Rape As Way To Break Reproductive Monopoly & Injustice Against Men

The resentment in the rejected comment included below from an anonymous man is disturbing, but it is also important for people who don't agree with this man to be aware of this warped and often contradictory way of thinking which justifies rape.

Those who work with this man may have no clue that he holds all these toxic beliefs. If they are aware of some of his resentments toward feminists they may not see how this resentment is directly linked to rape.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Anti-Feminism And Rape":
Wanting to stop rape is not man hating but blaming all men for rape is.

What is rape? Is it just a man forcing himself upon a woman to gain entry to her sex? Or is it the attempt of those with NO reproductive rights to seize reproduction from those with a reproductive monopoly?

There was a time when men could work hard and expect his efforts to attract a wife. But now we must work even harder to compete against women in order to have mate value to attract those same women. And even then our efforts are taken for granted. (And when men compete and make more money it's called sexism and the wage gap is denounced!) And those men who fail to climb the employment hierarchy fall to the bottom and find love and affection from women a scarce commodity at best.

Women claim they want equality but that is a lie. They wanted the vote but simultaneously they wanted to prevent poor men from voting. Remember it was "Universal Sufferage" not just "Women's Sufferage". And also women didn't want to be forced to become military slaves the way men were forced. So much for "Equal rights, nothing more, nothing less." Every young man who is forced to sign up for Selective Service (The Draft) realizes in his heart that his life is not his own and that at a whim the government can take his freedom and expend his life to pursue some political end for the benefit of others--who incidentally will be mostly women.

We live in a society where women have nearly unlimited sexual freedom and expression. They can wear their clothing as scantily as they want and act as scandalously as they please. And they believe they should have the right to do so and be free from rape. That sentiment is the same as saying "I have a right to dangle raw meat before tigers and not have one of them jump up and snatch it from me and my arm with it." And not only that but to presume the tiger is the unjust one for being driven to it by frustration and hunger.

Finally, feminism is patriarchy. It is the desire of women to be privileged by men. Only now women have chosen the federal government as their "uber father" to protect them and provide for them. But as always it is men who pay for everything. We pay with our taxes, with our lives, with broken hearts, and our freedom.
Break out the violins for this self-inflicted pity party.

Rape laws and anti-discrimination laws are not about having an "uber father" any more than murder laws and food safety laws are about having an "uber father."

How horrid we women are for wanting the ability to live our lives without men feeling like they have the right to rape us because we don't behave as they want us to behave. How horrid we women are for presuming rapists are the unjust ones.

The fundamental problem behind this comment is that this man doesn't view women as full human beings. We are wombs to be filled by men, we are objects to be purchased by men, we are usurpers to be taken down by men.

Any woman who interacts with this anonymous man socially is at increased danger of being raped even if she dresses and behaves modestly since he puts the responsibility for rape on the victim not the rapist. Any woman who marries this man is at an increased risk of domestic abuse.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:41 AM   13 comments links to this post

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Patterns Found in Series Of Murders

From Nightline:

The FBI has recently started collecting information about serial killings and assaults happening along the nation's major highways. There have been 500 such murders over the last 30 years, and the FBI worries there are many more cases out there that have not been brought to their attention.

"We were surprised at the number of bodies," said Supervisory Special Agent Mike Harrigan, who heads ViCAP. "When we look at the highway, the highways in particular, and saw 500 out there. That causes some concern, and we think there's many more that just need to be put into our database that just aren't identified yet."
Roughly 200 suspects have been identified, and the overwhelming majority are truckers, he said.

Most of the cases involve truckers picking up young women at rest stops, killing them and burying their bodies hundreds of miles away from where they were murdered.

The FBI's program helps police with baffling, unsolved crimes to link cases that are sometimes half a country away.

This coordination is important since these types of predators depend on a lack of coordination to get away with their crimes. Anyone who views violence as less disturbing because of their assessment of the victim or the victim's choices is making a dangerous mistake.

If we are against murder we cannot shrug off certain murders or view them as a natural consequence of those women's decisions simply because so many men choose those women as their targets. This provides emotional support to murderers which helps them justify their crimes as being a result of their victim's choices not their own choices.

After a rape and assault of a woman described as a prostitute that investigation led the police to the gun they believe was used in a quadruple murder.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Police say Troy Brake is the person behind the deaths of three family members and a family member's girlfriend. [...]

Brake is charged with four murders. Prosecutors believe Brake killed a mother and two sons so he could rape the son's 18-year-old girlfriend.

Violence is violence and when we forget that we are putting additional lives at risk. If we refuse to believe certain victims simply because they are not sympathetic we are working against justice. Seemingly nice boys and nice men can commit violence that can shock investigators who believe they can no longer be shocked.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:57 AM   0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Report On Sexual Violence In Minnesota And Call For Action

From a Minnesota Dept. of Health press release:

A recent review of five sources of data on sexual violence in Minnesota revealed mixed news. While hospital treatment and criminal arrests have increased in recent years, reports to law enforcement of sex offenses have remained stable, and two self-report surveys indicated a decrease in victimization.

The data are included in the new report, Violence Data Brief: Sexual Violence, 2002-2007, from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). It is available at

"Sexual violence is a major public health issue, resulting in significant and rising costs to our health care system," said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Sanne Magnan. "While MDH is helping to coordinate statewide prevention efforts, everyone can contribute to the solution. Creating policies at work and school, engaging in discussions with family and friends, and making sexual violence prevention a priority in all communities are a few of the strategies that will help reduce the problem."

This last part about what each of us can do to increase our safety and reduce violence is so important and is often overlooked.

It isn't enough for each of us to declare ourselves against rape. Even the worst rape apologists do this right before they explain why all but the most blatantly horrendous sexual assaults shouldn't be considered crimes.

We must be clear about our demand for the ethic treatment of people and we must understand that instructing children and adults to abstain until marriage communicates nothing about ethical sexual interactions. This vague command leaves children and adults vulnerable to those who use respect, trust and shock as weapons. It can also help exploiters rationalize their violence if they target those they view as no longer innocent or of low sexual morals.

We must abandon the phrase, "She's no innocent victim," when talking about prosecuting sex crimes -- even statutory sex crimes. The reason we must do so is this phrase contributes to individuals being repeat victims of sex crimes. The first sex criminal who targets a small child is rightfully seen as a danger, but the sex criminals who ride that first offender's coattails are often wrongfully seen as no threat to anyone's safety. If a child reacts to systematic sexual abuse by abusing alcohol our collective attitudes can help protect that child or it can leave that child defenseless and scorned.

This abstinence demand also leaves people vulnerable to having their trauma intensified if they become victims of a sex crime. When abstinence-only educators use the dirty toothbrush analogy they are reducing victims of sex crimes to dirty toothbrushes.

Without a comprehensive understanding of sexual ethics abstaining until marriage only delays sexual violence until it can be directed at a spouse. This in no way strengthens marriage.

Most rapists would never and will never brake, grab and rape a random stranger because this behavior is rarely or never defended or excused. We must each work to get to this same place with non-stranger rape. While we cannot make other people personally stop excusing or minimizing sexual violence we can work to change policies so that excusing and minimizing sexual violence becomes harder to do successfully.

The data provided by MN DOH can help make the excuses and minimization harder to get away with. For example, almost all victims of sexual violence who are seen at hospitals are treated and released. Only around 2% require hospital treatment beyond the ER. This means that if people use the lack of hospitalization as a reason to suspect a report of rape is false they are basing their conclusions on bad data and are likely helping rapists get away with their crimes.

If people cling to their denial about non-hospitalized rape victims despite data such as this then that communicates something important about that person's ethical set point. Since these people are often vocal in their denial then it is important for those of us who don't practice denial to highlight our ethical standards.

We can also highlight how dangerous it is to continuously look the other way until a sex criminal inflicts undeniable physical injury such as causing victims traumatic brain injury or death.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:13 AM   3 comments links to this post

Monday, May 18, 2009

International Day Against Homophobia

Yesterday was International Day Against Homophobia.

As I was growing up I didn't think much about homophobia and I didn't think much about homophobic insults except to know that they were intended to make the insulter feel smug and superior to whoever was being insulted while they made me instantly dislike and distrust the person making those insults.

I'd also heard people talking about a certain class of sin in non-explicit ways and didn't question it, but I'd never heard homophobic rants as a child.

The way I perceived homophobia changed during my first marriage to a "nice" Christian heterosexual man who was controlling from the beginning of our relationship. I still felt out of control even though it had been 4 years since my rape and when I met him his controlling felt like direction of which I had none.

I learned that heterosexuality, outside or inside of marriage, certainly did not equal free of sin.

My first MIL, a woman who emoted warmth and caring toward everyone she met, was the first person to shock me with her private response to the HIV virus in the 1980s. This nice cuddly woman in private swore that HIV was God's way of smiting the evil homosexuals. That way of thinking was absolutely foreign to me since I grew up in a home where Christian and scientific thought coexisted easily.

She spoke from a virulent bigotry I had never seen before and hoped to never see again. Unfortunately she was as disdainful about minorities as she was against GBLTs only there she blamed inferior biology instead of sin. Her view of God and mine were completely different even though we were both Christian.

While condemning a whole group of people to hell she was convinced her baby boy (my husband) could do no wrong. Any failure or illness among her own flesh and blood was bad luck or ill will by someone outside of that circle while all failures and illnesses in those she looked upon with bigotry were caused by their sin or their inferiority.

This was clearly not logical, but it allowed her to view the world in the way she wanted to see it.

At the end of my first marriage I felt like an absolute failure who could do nothing right. My brother Keith had just been notified that he'd been hired to work in Denver and when he left our hometown I went with him. Once in our new city we went to the closest church of our denomination which was a tiny historic building with a majority openly gay membership. A few years before we moved to Denver the church had been in danger of closing because most members either died or moved to the suburbs.

The generosity of spirit I found there left me humbled and disproved every bit of homophobia I'd ever been exposed to. It wasn't that these men were free of sin. They weren't but their sins were not inherently worse than the sins of heterosexuals. For the first time I questioned what had previously been an undeniable fact: homosexual behavior was the worst sexual sin, even when consensual and within a monogamous relationship

For heterosexual Christian men with a pattern of violence against women it was too often: sin, repent, repeat. All while being considered good Christian men.

I could not reconcile this dichotomy with my Christian faith and it led me to believe that the approach too many Christians take to sexual sin and relationship abuse is not rooted in the true core of Christianity at all but, like slavery and racism, is rooted in bigotry. By associating their bigotry with their faith that bigotry 1) wasn't their fault 2) didn't need to be eradicated.

This same bigotry is found in other religions and in groups who reject religion and instead use evolutionary psychiatry to justify violence against women. This shows that this bigotry is rooted in people's need to find a way to justify bigotry and violence. It also shows that both religion and science can be misused to do so.

The approach I rejected is shown in the Double X article Does Rick Warren's church condone domestic violence? by Kathryn Joyce.

A man convicted of assaulting his wife was not only allowed to stay he was embraced while the woman assaulted was alienated for speaking up about her husband's violence and eventually filing for divorce. That practice undermines all the nice words the church puts out. Church leadership saying they don't condone domestic violence isn't enough. As long as their actions provide any support for domestic violence while failing to fully support all victims of domestic violence they enable domestic violence in their ranks.

At the end of my first marriage I felt like I broke my marriage vows even though I left abuse which would have only gotten worse but during my time at that Denver church I realized that by abusing me my husband was the one who had broken our marriage vows. This is something the Saddleback church doesn't acknowledge.

I believe Rick Warren is a Christian, but I believe he is a Christian who supports very dangerous non-Christian practices within his church. Before President Obama's inauguration the Saddleback church's website was changed to remove anti-gay references. Having personal warmth and charisma in person and in books can make someone seem like they understand everything and are completely loving individuals, but like my first MIL sometimes warmth and charisma can go hand in hand with bigotry and injustice.

The mix of these 2 bigotries is not surprising to me at all now because I've come to realize they are rooted in the same dangerous thinking.
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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Women Need To Be Educated About Inherent Gang Rape Dangers

Fox Sports Australia: Women need to be educated as well about inherent sexual dangers by Margie McDonald:

... when the game is over there are always a handful of young women hovering around the players ... They want to hook up with a player. [...]

I make no judgment, but I do have a problem with women who can't make an educated choice: "If I go back to that player's hotel room or even out to a toilet cubicle at the back of a nightclub, can I really trust that the player I left with will be the only player there when I arrive, or even half-an-hour later?"

If we want starstruck young women to make an educated guess, perhaps we should educate them? If I steal that lipstick off the shelf, there's a good chance I'll be caught on security camera, charged by police and appear in court. We are taught that.

If McDonald is concerned for the safety of girls and women then she needs to not conflate stealing lipstick with being the victim of gang rape unless it is to tell us that there are always people hovering just out of sight waiting for a wrong move before they pounce.

In the first case, the wrong move is stealing and the response is a shoplifting arrest. In the second case, the "wrong move" is walking to a more isolated location with 1 individual player and the response is gang rape. Too many people call the response in the second situation the consequence because this fits their ideology. But this is the ideology of rapists.

McDonald is accidentally communicating that any excuses by players that an alleged gang rape was a result of an honest misunderstanding are lies. She's seen and understood their regular MO, she just doesn't see it as their problem.
If I go into a hotel toilet or up in the lift with a player/players to a room, there's a good chance I'll be filmed on CCTV or a mobile phone and, if something goes horribly wrong, I have no recourse in the courts. Maybe we need to start teaching teenage girls that.
By "something goes horribly wrong," she means rape and more likely gang rape. Something going horribly wrong in a player's room would be the toilet overflowing with water and its fresh contents.

Rape is never something going horribly wrong, it is some rapist going horribly wrong.

What McDonald is teaching girls is that Australia and many other countries will ignore gang rape as long as the gang rapists didn't drag their victim into a room. This position means gang rape is treated by the police similarly to jurisdictions where seat belt laws are never issued on their own but only in conjunction with another violation.

This makes not wearing your seat belt and committing gang rape similar types of crimes.

By scolding women McDonald is taking the position that men who rape are morally superior to women who have consensual sex. It also tells us that gang rape by sportsmen is no freak occurrence by a few rogue players but instead happens regularly when athletes can get someone to willingly walk with 1 or more athletes to a different more isolated location.

If McDonald is aware of gang rapes which are done in the way she describes she should have called the police. To do nothing about repeated gang rapes except write an article scolding girls and women is .... I don't have the words for what this is other than complicit.

If a woman consents to have sex with 1 player and a whole team might be hiding around the corner waiting that's not only gang rape that's premeditated gang rape. Yet in this narrative it is the target of this gang rape who is the transgressor.

We are taught that stealing lipstick is a crime, but apparently sports players are not taught that committing gang rape is a crime.

If any sports player cannot tell the difference between hooking up and raping, that sports player needs to abstain from all sexual contact until he learns the difference. But read McDonald's suggested education plan:

The ideal place to strike at the core of the problem is high school, through programs held in tandem with sex education and lifestyle or career counselling classes, or through the media with government-backed mass advertising programs.

Not too long ago, the national TV advertising campaign "Violence Against Women - Australia Says No" sent powerful messages. How about a campaign "Going to Hotel Rooms With Several Men - Australia Says Think Again"?

This in no way strikes at the core of the problem which is rape. This suggested campaign supports rapists and would likely increase the rate of sexual violence. The implied crime is girls and women going to a hotel room and the implied punishment for that crime is gang rape.

I say to McDonald and all who agree with her, think again.

If there were any campaign to prevent this type of crime it needs to be directed at exposing the premeditation in this type of crime and doing away with the excuses for rape.

H/T: Hoyden About Town

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

Friday, May 15, 2009

Carnival Against Sexual Violence 70

Welcome to the May 15, 2009 edition of the Carnival Against Sexual Violence.

I'm now on Twitter as Abyss2hope so if you Twitter please follow me and then let me know you arrived from this blog through the @ reply or DM.

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 this edition of the carnival against sexual violence:


In The Caveman Mystique: Pop Darwinism and the Masculine Excuse, with author Martha McCaughey posted at The World's Fair, we get an interview which discusses the link between science and what people claim is proven by science related to male behavior.


In Shhh: Cal Supremes to Review Rape Shield Law posted at Legal Pad, we get a discussion about an appeal's court decision which threw out the rape conviction and 89-year sentence of a serial sex offender, and declared that California’s Rape Shield Law does not apply when the defendant denies having sex with the victim.

In Fixing LA's Untested Rape Kit Crisis, Locally and Statewide posted at California NOW, we get a discussion of budgetary and hiring decisions which have an impact on the processing of rape kits.

In Pasadena Weekly Piece - We've Captured That Woman! posted at The Sardonic Sideshow, we get a discussion about pregnancy clinics which pretend to offer medical services and while this post focuses on the harm to those who had consensual sex the harm to those who are victims of rape is even greater.

In Military Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Act posted at NASW Advocacy Blog, we get a discussion of pending legislation which seeks to reduce violence against military personnel and their families by enhancing programs of prevention and deterrence, improving victim services, and strengthening provisions for prosecution of assailants.

In Lakota Woman Wins Unprecedented Rape Case posted at Pretty Bird Woman House, we get a discussion of a Native American woman from Wounded Knee who won a historic ruling in federal court based on a century-old treaty between the U.S. government and the Oglala Sioux Tribe after she was sexually assaulted by a military recruiter.

In Systemic Oppression: Sexual Assault Edition posted at The Feminist Agenda, we get a discussion about the jurisdictional issues which contribute to American Indian women being vulnerable to sexual assault at such high rates.

In The "Human" Part of Trafficking posted at Transitions Global, we get a discussion about how eliminating slavery requires giving those who were enslaved a path to a future.

In Shock And Awe Over Rape Kit Charges Activists Have Been Fighting For Years posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open, I discuss the surprise many people have over a problem which has been around for years and how those who have woken up to this problem can easily hit the snooze button.

In Defense Attorney Argues That No Doesn't Always Mean No posted at The Curvature, we get a discussion about whether forcing a victim to deny that her "no" was just a joke plants the idea in the jury’s mind that such a ludicrous charge might actually have merit.

In “It Was Consesual” taken to a whole new level posted at Mortality's Thoughts, we get a discussion of the handling of a case where the victim is only 5 years old.

In Samantha Orobator may get out of Laos, at a price posted at Hoyden About Town, we get a discussion of a case where a pregnant British woman arrested for heroin smuggling in Laos has been told she must testify she was not raped in prison in order to escape the firing squad.

media watch

In Happy Sexual Assault Awareness Month posted at Women In Pants, we get a discussion of anti-rape campaign which is using "someone was raped here" graffiti.

In Abstinence education posted at The Ex-Communicator, we get a discussion of what an abstinence education textbook says about date rape.

In victim blaming (or: blame it on the vi-i-i-i-i-ctim) posted at Miss C., we get a discussion of Jamie Foxx's latest single "Blame It (on the Alcohol).

In Review: The Purity Myth posted at Book Addiction, we get a review of a book by Jessica Valenti.

In The Sun and domestic violence posted at The enemies of reason, we get a discussion about the amount and type of coverage given to victims of domestic violence based on their gender so that those least likely to be victims get the most coverage.

In How Odd! posted at Shakespeare's Sister, we get a discussion about how injustice against girls and women gets put in with odd news stories.

In Worth a Thousand Words posted at Responsible Men's Blog, we get a discussion about sexual objectification in Nikon digital camera ads.

In Seattle Weekly Furthers the Myth of Common False Rape Allegations posted at The Curvature, we get a discussion of an article which uses one proven false allegation to make unfounded allegations.

In Covering the Rape at Tulane posted at Feminist Ideas and Praxis, we get a discussion of how media reports focus primarily on the behavior of victims.

personal stories

In Dating as a Feminist: Consent & Sex posted at Pizza Diavola, we get a discussion about being in a position where the physical desire for sex was strong, but consent was absent.

In When the people we trust get it wrong posted at Feministing, we get a discussion of the harm that can be done when friends repeat dangerous myths about rape including the idea that being pretty causes rape.

In Men Can Stop Rape "Men and Women as Allies" conference posted at Hunter Women’s Rights Coalition (HWRC), we get a discussion of a recent conference in DC.

raising awareness

In Fear of Rape posted at MomGrind, we get a discussion about how so many messages reinforce that women should be on constant guard against rape while not enough is done to prevent rape through more than self-defense.

In Murder Case Highlights Why Minimizing Early Sexual Assaults Is Dangerous posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open, I discuss a case which shows why those who treat acquaintance rape and stranger rape as unconnected have it dangerously wrong.


In What Does It Mean to Heal? posted at The Curvature, we get a discussion mostly in the comments from different survivors about what healing means to them.

In We don't make it easy to be a survivor posted at What a crazy random happenstance, we get insights from someone who works in the mental health field about how our expectations interfere with the well being of survivors.


In Professor Margaret Abraham Speaks About Her Research in Gender Abuse and Teen Dating Violence in the South Asian community posted at Out Against Abuse, we get an interview focused on gender abuse.


In 52 Days of Domestic Violence Flu in America posted at Family Justice Center Alliance, we get a comparison between the flu and domestic violence which highlights that we as a society choose to fund what we see as urgent.

In Stop It Before It Starts: Part 1 Domestic Violence posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open, I recap a primary prevention training for sexual and domestic violence put on by the Minnesota Men's Action Network.

Update: For the first time ever I'm adding a post written after the carnival deadline. This post from the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault provides the facts behind the story about a rape victim who was incorrectly billed for her rape kit. Please read this open letter and pass on this information.

That concludes this 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.

To nominate a post (your own or someone else's) to the next edition of carnival against sexual violence, use the carnival submission form. If you have any problem with the form, please let me know so your submission can be considered for the next edition.

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 @ 12:02 AM   3 comments links to this post

Thursday, May 14, 2009

University Health Coordinator Arrested For Keeping Student's Confidence

From Elon Pendulum:

Leigh-Anne Royster, Elon's coordinator for personal health and community well-being, was arrested April 29 on charges of resisting a public officer. Alamance County [North Carolina] District Attorney Rob Johnson dismissed the case Monday afternoon.

According to a statement released by the university Friday, "The charge related to Royster's interaction with a town police officer in connection with Royster's counseling of a student who said she was sexually assaulted at an off-campus location."

The arrest report said a warrant was issued for Royster's arrest April 28. On April 29, she was processed at the Elon Police Department before being transported to the Magistrate's office and placed under a $500 bond.

Thankfully, the city decided that the obstruction charges against Royster should be dropped, but this arrest is troubling.

I can understand an investigator's frustration upon learning that an off-campus rape was disclosed, while being denied the opportunity to investigate that disclosure. However, if the victim doesn't want to file a police report that decision needs to be respected. If the victim was considering reporting this arrest may have slammed the door on that possibility.

The issue of confidentiality is one that was emphasized when I was training for my volunteer work on my local rape crisis line. We did discuss the importance of making notes in a way that could not be misused by a defense attorney if those records were ever ruled non-confidential.

For some this may seem like a minor issue, but minor issues can have a huge impact. This story and the support of the university leadership for Royster may reassure students who have been sexually assaulted that their university will respect the commitment made in the student handbook.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:13 AM   0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Trouble with Linda Hirshman's Critique of Jezebel

From Double X: Trouble with Jezebel by Linda Hirshman:

I turned on my computer one morning last summer, and there was a YouTube clip of two women, manifestly drunk, discussing why one of them could not be bothered to call the police when she was raped. Thinking I had stumbled into some rerun of The Jerry Springer Show, I checked again. Nope, the clip was from “Thinking and Drinking,” Lizz Winstead’s then-weekly live interview program from a New York theater. The drunk women were Maureen (“Moe”) Tkacik and Tracie (“Slut Machine”) Egan, then bloggers at the website Jezebel. (emphasis mine)

The bolded section undermines Linda Hirshman's credibility. The only way to describe someone not calling the police in this manner is to have zero understanding of the very real and valid reasons the majority of rape victims don't report.

In the 3 plus years I've been blogging I've highlighted many of the current issues with our legal system which is so much better on the whole than it was when I was raped in 1974.

We have rape kit backlogs, we have rape victims in Texas being stuck with the bill from their hospital exam, and those are just a few of the problems which have been highlighted in the last few weeks.

Many investigators still decide to stop investigating a reported rape the second they hear that the rape victim was drunk at the time of the rape. This attitude can contribute to cops who are called to protect a drunk woman and who instead rape that woman which is exactly what 2 New York cops are charged with doing.

The prospect of reporting rape can feel like deciding whether or not to play Russian roulette. But Hirshman either doesn't know this or doesn't care.

Instead of just unfairly insulting one woman, Hirshman has unfairly insulted many thousands of them. This insult is rooted in demands for women not to be victims with no louder demands for men to not be perpetrators.

This is not about one brand of feminism vs. another brand. This is about ignorance which uses feminism as a shield. I don't like this any more than I like victim blamers who use Christianity or any other religion as a shield when they claim that victims of date rape are always at least partly to blame for their own rapes or when they say uncovered women are like slabs of meat.

When Hirshman contrasts the women of Jezebel to the beginning of the women's liberation movement she doesn't mention how men's physical and sexual violence against women factored into that movement long before equal pay became a major issue.
Liberation always included an element of sexual libertinism. It’s one of the few things that made it so appealing to men: easy sexual access to women’s bodies.
This is a fundamental misunderstanding of what liberation means. Easy access to women's bodies is easy exploitation of girls and women in the name of equality but without the presence of genuine equality.

The old view of women as men's property (father or husband) meant that certain girls and women were off limits while the rest (girls and women of bad character) could be targeted mercilessly.

But this new view doesn't elevate girls and women to full human status with the right to control their own bodies, it turns girls and women into unclaimed property. And if girls and women are unclaimed property they must never be in a position of vulnerability because men would then have the legal right to seize that unclaimed property.

This view is why so many rapists who didn't get consent claim, "it was consensual," simply because the victim was there alone with them. And this is why so many people accept that claim with a flip, "If she didn't want to have sex what was she doing there."

It is this view of what liberation means which hurts girls and women, not girls and women who frequently consent to sex. Hirshman doesn't stop there.
But unregulated sexual life also exposes women to the strong men around them, and here, the most visible of the Jezebel writers reflect the risks of liberation. Even if the girls gone wild stories are substantially overstated, the emergence of Tkacik and Egan as brand emissaries of Jezebel, and its attendant increase in popularity—as well as the responsive posts from the community of commenters, who call themselves “Jezzies” or “Jezebelles”—forces feminism to confront their public sexual narrative. How can women supposedly acting freely and powerfully keep turning up tales of vulnerability—repulsive sexual partners, pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, even rape?
Rape is not a risk of female liberation. Rape is a risk -- period.

Because most rapists are male if any group needs to have their sexual life regulated it is boys and men. The attitudes and beliefs of rapists, which often come from peers and those who are respected, are what cause men to rape and it's what causes different men to rape in different situations. When the criticism around disclosures of rape focuses negatively on the victim this provides moral support to rapists.

I'll simplify a long sentence in the quote from Hirshman above to focus only on rape:

How can women acting freely and powerfully keep turning up tales of rape?
Think about everything that is packed into this one question.

My answer is simple. Acting freely and powerfully is no magic shield against rape. Neither is acting in a restricted manner. Going to the hospital isn't viewed as risky behavior, but rape happens in hospitals. What woman going to the hospital would expect rape and after release, an attempted murder? Women in that hospital were exposed to a stronger man, but nobody is warning women about the dangers of being a hospital patient.

In the US during 2007 it was estimated that 248,300 sexual assaults were committed against people aged 12 and over. With that number of rapes, most of which are committed against girls and women, how can we as a society claim that girls and women have the freedom to act freely and powerfully?
These Jezebel writers are a symptom of the weaknesses in the model of perfect egalitarian sexual freedom; in fact, it’s the supposed concern with feminism that makes the site so problematic. How can Tracie, who posted this picture, criticize the men who go to Hooters? How can writers who justify not reporting rape criticize the military for not controlling…rape? It’s incoherent.
Here Hirshman conflates the actions of Jezebel women with the actions of rapists.

To have not reporting rape disqualify someone from criticizing the military for rampant sexual violence, Hirshman must view the rape victim as at least as responsible for her own rape and what the police will do (or not do) about her report if she made one as the military is for rapes committed by soldiers. This conclusion is what is incoherent.

Military leadership have the power to set policies related to the investigation of rape in the military. They have the power to set the tone related to sexual violence in the military. They also have the power to not give exemptions to recruits with a history of violence against women.
Given the high level of risk the Jezebel life involves, it is surprising that the offense that arouses the liberated Jezebels to real political fury is the suggestion that women like them might be made responsible for the consequences of their own acts, or that there might be general standards that define basic feminist behavior. Suggest that women report the men who rape them for the sake of future victims, say, or that women should be asked why they stay with the men who abuse them, or urged to leave them, and the Jezebels go ballistic. Judgmental, judgmental!
Hirshman is again letting violent men and the systematic enablements in our society off the hook. Those who rape Jezebel women have been reduced to Pavlov's rapists.

This attitude is counterproductive to primary prevention.

Those who have personal responsibility for the rape of drunk women are the rapists. Those who have personal responsibility for repeated rapes are the rapists and those who do nothing about systems which help them repeat their crimes by making reporting such a high risk decision while the odds that a rapist will get away with rape even if rightfully reported so low.

The other problem is the assumption about the level of risk the Jezebel life involves. Alcohol is not what causes rape, but many times rapists use alcohol as a weapon or wait for their intended victim to be drunk before attempting rape. This is the behavior which needs to be called out as dead wrong. Each time someone fails to put the blame for rape where it belongs that helps rapists.

If we as feminists want everyone to be safer from the crime of rape then each of us need to support effective systems which make getting away with rape tough, make reporting rape easy and make leaving every type of abuser easy and safe.
As the Jezebel stories reflect, women begin to numb themselves so that everything feels OK—so that nothing, not even rape, is predictably bad enough to call the police. Hence the jokey, snarky tone that dominates the site.
The problem with this claim is that many trauma survivors numb themselves with alcohol or drugs in an attempt to self-medicate. To blame this on a brand of feminism is to communicate a total lack of understanding for trauma. This quote also makes the baseless assumption that unreported rapes are not reported because they aren't bad enough to call the police. This again ignores a harsh reality which many rape survivors know too well when they've done as Hirshman commands.

If Hirshman wants to blame the writers at Jezebel when they choose to have sex without protection that's a valid critique. But the key is to criticize what people choose not what happens when a girl or woman has the power of choice taken from her.

When women of Jezebel talk about having been raped or talk about the difficulty of leaving an abuser it is clear that they do not live in the model of perfect egalitarian sexual freedom. But to blame that lack of freedom on Jezebel is to ignore the penis in the room.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:27 AM   6 comments links to this post

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Man Allegedly Made Up Story About Being Kidnapped Raped

A story in the Sun Sentinel with the headline Man who reported being raped made up the story about a unnamed man in south Florida who reported being abducted at a gas station and then raped by 2 other men. He later told investigators for the Broward Sheriff's Office that he fabricated the crime. The way this case is presented overlooks the possibility that this recantation is false.

The story doesn't provide any context for this admission so there is no way to know whether this statement was freely given. There's no mention of a forensic exam.

Because of gendered assumptions about those who report having been raped (women lie, men don't) it's less likely that the investigators coerced this recantation. Even if they didn't pressure him to recant, real victims can decide to recant for various reasons so a recantation is not proof of anything. However, if there is clear contradictory evidence such as surveillance video which disproves the allegation then this man should be charged.

What's important about this story beyond whether the recantation is valid or not is that this story hasn't been picked up by those who focus on false rape allegations made by women. I have no doubt if the man in this case had been a woman that those men would have started buzzing about this case. I might have found an anonymous comment in my moderation queue with a link and a snarky remark about women's lack of honesty.

Looking at the comments of this story (I suggest you don't unless you are ready for lots of bigotry) the version I read was an update from the original story. Some of the commenters to the original report were quick to make rape jokes about the original allegation or to call the report "buyer's remorse." But the feeling I get from those is that this is a form of gay bashing where gay men's honesty is equated with their assumptions about women's honesty. Because the original story said this didn't appear to be a hate crime, some men responded with racist and gay bashing remarks.

It isn't until comment #63 that a commenter references the change in the story. From that point on the gay bashing dominates.

Now that I've highlighted this case 1 or more of those men who run sites claiming to highlight all the reports of false allegations may feel obligated to post about this case to prove that they are not gender bigots. We'll see.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:30 AM   0 comments links to this post

Monday, May 11, 2009

Stop It Before It Stops Part 4 Moving To Action

A week ago Wednesday (4/29) I attended the seminar Stop It Before It Starts: Preventing Sexual and Domestic Violence presented by: Minnesota Men's Action Network: Alliance to Prevent Sexual and Domestic Violence.

In part 1, I gave my thoughts on the first session which was about the dynamics of domestic violence. In part 2, I covered the session on sexual violence. In part 3, I covered the session on our sexually toxic environment.

This post is a recap of the fourth and final session of this training, primary prevention -- moving to action by Chuck Derry of Gender Violence Institute.

I'll begin by going back to what makes an action primary prevention.

The actions in primary prevention focus on systematic changes which positively influence the behavior of those who would otherwise be violent, the behavior of those who excuse or enable violence and the behavior of those who are responsible for responding to inappropriate/illegal behavior.

Primary prevention of violence through various actions reduces the general toxicity of our cultural environment and removes the barriers to successful prevention efforts.

This is where each of us can be involved and make a positive difference no matter our age, how busy we are or what other people fail to do. Understanding primary prevention gives us many options for personal actions, including working to change formal systems, which combined with the efforts of others who are also focused on primary prevention can have an amazing impact.

Traditional prevention efforts which focused on what people could do to defend themselves does little or nothing to reduce the incoming danger and is not primary prevention. Because this doesn't make the environment safer it is easy for those trying to fight this violence in this way to burn out. The flow of incoming victims will never stop under this approach.

An important tool for those who want to be involved in primary prevention is the spectrum of prevention.

The Spectrum is comprised of six interrelated action levels:

  • strengthening individual knowledge and skills

  • promoting community education

  • educating providers

  • fostering coalitions and networks

  • changing organizational practices

  • influencing policy and legislation
For primary prevention to be fully effective there must be action in all of these areas of the spectrum. Many early prevention efforts focus on education, but we've seen in various areas that knowledge and education is not enough on it's own.

The graphic for this spectrum is a series of horizontal bars, but it can be useful to think of this as wedges on a wheel.

As an example for why we need to look at all elements of the spectrum, in the early days of child safety seats people were taught about how these seats could protect children but many people thought children would never stay in these seats and because of that they didn't even try to use them. It wasn't until these child restraints became a law that the rate of use went up. In the area of fostering coalitions and networks that could be groups which provided child safety seats and helped ensure they were properly installed.

We are really at the beginning of this process of primary prevention of sexual and domestic violence so in many areas we are still learning. Part of this training is to invite people into the process who may bring valuable insight and/or resources to this effort.

Some example activities in Minnesota include: The Coalition for Responsible Sex Ed work on a comprehensive sex education bill at the 2008 legislature. Stop It Now! Minnesota working with youth serving organizations. The St. Paul-Ramsey County Teen Pregnancy Project/Sexual Assault Action Team was formed to provide education about the connection between these 2 issues. A community group in Winona, MN Beyond Tough Guise has worked with Winona State University to improve their sexual conduct policies. Brochures the group created were handed out and I planned to highlight some of the items but my brochure seems to be AWOL. If I find it or can find a link to it, I will add that later.

Some other examples of primary prevention in Minnesota include:

Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault MNCASA has a prevention specialist, has prevention initiatives with the legislature, and is initiating focus on youth leadership in prevention and more.
Ramsey County, MN has a variety of interventions and prevention activities and passed a resolution to prevent sexual violence utilizing strategies across the spectrum of prevention to be implemented across various departments.

Olmsted County, MN (where I live) has passed its own resolution to prevent sexual violence (resolution 08-76) which includes:
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Olmsted County Board of Commissioners is committed to stopping sexual violence and ensuring a healthy environment for all people in which they can grow and develop free from social and environmental toxins that feed the demand for sexual violence;
Citizens in all the other Minnesota counties are encouraged to approach their county leaders about taking up this type of resolution. This may seem symbolic, but this commitment is more than just symbolic.

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, The Board requests the County Administrator to develop specific action steps for each of the Goals; coordinate sexual violence intervention and prevention efforts with state and national plans; identify potential funding sources and/or ways in which departments can internalize implementation of the Goals, identify and assess potential legislative proposals that address sexual violence during the 2009 legislative session; and report back to the Board in 6 months.
This section is what moves this resolution beyond support for awareness campaigns. I encourage everyone who reads this to look at the 2 resolutions passed so far and encourage your local government officials to make similar commitments.

The state of Minnesota's Dept. of Health has been working toward prevention. Check out A Place to Start: A Resource Kit for Preventing Sexual Violence.

Patty Wetterling is the program director for Minnesota sexual violence prevention. The state of Minnesota has a 5-year plan for the primary prevention of sexual violence and exploitation (pdf) put out by the state department of health.

This plan has 6 goals.

Goal 1. Strengthen social norms that encourage healthy and respectful relationships.
Goal 2. Identify and train leaders across the state to educate people.
Goal 3. Ensure that all voices are heard in order to prevent sexual violence.
Goal 4. Increase the ability of individuals, groups, and communities to prevent sexual violence.
Goal 5. Seek action by local and state public policy entities.
Goal 6. Implement and evaluate data and best practices for preventing sexual violence.

While many prevention actions are not dependant on having men join this effort we can't have approximately half our population uninvolved and still claim that we as a society are serious about being opposed to sexual and domestic violence. Much of the sexual toxicity does not directly hurt most men once they reach adulthood which can make them more blase about this problem. I could write about situations where men are victimized, but self-protection should not be the only motivation.

Too many boys and men are part of the problem, not enough are part of the solution.

A list of 10 things men can do to end sexism and male violence against women can be a starting point for men. Here's the first item (examples follow):
Understand how your own attitudes and actions perpetuate sexism and violence. Work toward changing them.
This can be a tough step since many people, men and women, who are non-violent don't like to think that anything they do perpetuates violence, but when we live in a sexually toxic environment toxic attitudes are more likely to be normalized and be spread without those spreading it realizing what they've done.

A key example where many men perpetuate sexism is the habit of trivializing women's experiences and opinions. For example, when a man dismisses date rape as something which shouldn't be prosecuted he is dismissing the trauma of most rape victims and he is providing practical support to most rapists.

Included in this list is speaking out against gay bashing. There is also a note related to this item which points out that men who speak out against gendered violence are often subjected to homophobic abuse. This is part of our sexually toxic environment.

As I think about this abuse I think about what it says about the abuser's view of heterosexual men when a man being boldly anti-rape causes him to be classified as not heterosexual. The result is that the abusers are equating "heterosexual male" with being a rapist or being someone who protects rapists or being someone who conveniently looks the other way when it comes to rape and abuse.

In this primary prevention effort it is important to work to expand those who are partners in this prevention effort including individuals who are policy makers and community leaders. We also want to partner with all levels and types of government, businesses, civic and community organizations, faith communities, educational institutions and health care.

As I think about primary prevention, I realize that strong effective responses after violence has been committed play an important role in primary prevention. As long as victims of domestic and/or sexual violence are commonly terrified of reporting or some aftermath of reporting (being billed for rape kit exam) then something is seriously wrong. This will require a mix of education, legislation and funding.

Failures which are defended with, "We followed all applicable rules and regulations," give us a starting point for a primary prevention action not a stopping point.

Primary prevention is possible. I am making a commitment right now to increase my focus on primary prevention and to look for what actions I can take in this area. Join me in making that commitment.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 6:40 AM   0 comments links to this post