Friday, April 30, 2010

Gossip Columnist Wants Girls And Women To Deal With Sexual Harassment And Assault But Only According To Her Dictates

New York Post gossip columnist, Cindy Adams, is the latest woman to tell those who have been victims of sexual harassment to deal with it while placing tight restrictions on the proper way to deal with actions which she acknowledges are so pervasive that no girl or woman doesn't face them at some point.

I was maybe 10. In a highly respected elderly doctor's Upper East Side examination room. My mom had left for one second. His hands began examining what wasn't there for examining. I pushed him away and never mentioned it to a soul. Not anybody. Until now. And I still remember his name.

I was maybe 16. The office of a theatrical agent who had a Tiffany reputation. He took me into a private room to test my voice. And what he looked to test was not my voice. I pushed him off and never mentioned it to anyone. Until now. And I still remember his name.

In whichever way we chose, we dealt with it. Calling a lawyer to say, "I'm suing because this guy laid his hands on me"? Oh, please, if that's his only part he laid on you, get some nail extensions and inform Larry Lothario next time you'll rake him like the leaves.
This last quoted paragraph contradicts itself. It begins by giving the individual the choice for how to deal with it, but then immediately sets limits. Personal threats and personal self-defense are the only options Adams will allow.

Neither that doctor nor that agent had a right to sexually assault a child. But that is what Adams is defending as something for the individual to deal with unaided. Sexual assault of a minor. She may feel that she evaded worse because she "dealt with it" but she evaded worse in large part because of luck. Others likely were not so lucky when they were in those men's offices.

Adams' view by default puts the responsibility and blame on all girls and women whose defenses were trampled and by default takes the responsibility and blame off of those who sexually harass and sexually assault girls and women. No wonder she is opposed to civil lawsuits for sexual harassment.

Maybe Cindy Adams wants women to go to work with a taser or other weapon in their purse and use it each time they are sexually harassed. If she supports all ways of dealing with sexual harassment and sexual assault short of civil lawsuits then she needs to support laws which protect girls and women who aggressively defend themselves even if that means the sexual harassers need to be rushed to the hospital to have bullets removed. Somehow I doubt she supports this level of self-defense. That means those who are supposed to "deal with it" must walk a tighter line than those who are causing others to "deal with it."

If deal with it means no civil lawsuits then our civil court system must be abandoned in it's entirety. Nobody, including Cindy Adams, should be allowed to sue anybody for any reason. We should all just deal with it. But these types of rants are highly selective and reflect the ranter's bias.

Adams uses her own experiences with sexual harassment and her own way of dealing with those violations as the rule by which all other women must be judged. She never told anyone so nobody else is allowed to tell. Those who she described as having sexually harassed her likely committed similar actions or worse against others, but the only acceptable response is her response.


Those who sexually harass and those who sexually assault others should deal with civil and criminal consequences of the actions. Too often these people get away with their offenses, but it is immoral to demand that these people should be let off the hook.

Sexual harassment is not something which comes from biology, it is something which comes from lack of ethics, entitlement and lack of negative consequences. People who dismiss sexual harassment and sexual assault as normal workplace behavior and cite the commonness of that behavior as their proof would be unlikely to do the same if the workplace wrongdoing were identity theft or embezzlement. If bosses were using personnel data to open fraudulent accounts in employees names I doubt that Adams would demand that victims simply "deal with it."

H/T: Huffington Post


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:42 AM   3 comments links to this post

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Ultimate Minimization of Rape By Intoxication

Because of a post by Cara from The Curvature I've learned of a 15-year-old girl who was raped in 2008 by 2 teen boys as she was dying of alcohol poisoning after drinking with them. Since the girl died there is no proof that the 2 teens didn't coerce her into drinking more than she wanted to drink. I believe the 2 teens involved should have been charged with manslaughter as well as rape.

Cara rightfully points out that calling what those teens did as having sex with a girl as she was dying is worthy of a rant.

This story hits close to home for me because it could have been my story and so many other girls' and women's stories. I suffered from alcohol poisoning at 16 and if it weren't for the actions of 2 guys who choose my life over the opportunity to rape me while I had no defenses I likely would have died that night.

The choice they made not to commit rape and to get me medical attention should be the choice everyone makes yet it is not. I don't know if I was raped before I was dumped in a public park by those who poured alcohol down my throat. That night is the only night I've ever blacked out and my last memory is of having hard liquor pushed on me after I stopped willingly drinking.

The 2 guys who likely saved my life risked being blamed for my alcohol poisoning and if I had died they might have been wrongfully charged in my death. As it turned out the only person who faced any criminal charges was me for underage drinking.

The only reason I'd started seeking alcohol was that it was the only thing that helped me cope with the aftermath of being raped the year before by my then boyfriend. In the mandatory alcohol awareness classes I attended the cause of my drinking wasn't included in the listed causes of heavy drinking. I assumed after that class ended that I was an alcoholic when I was no such thing.

I repeatedly hear people warn girls and women about their drinking as rape prevention, yet many of those who will lecture girls and women are silent or worse when it comes to boys and men about their use of alcohol and their treatment of girls and women who are incapacitated by alcohol.

Sexual violence against those who are drunk or completely incapacitated has been normalized in our society. Many people see rape as the normal action for a man to take when he comes across an unconscious woman when it is only too common.

Studies have found that a significant number of potential jurors are reluctant to convict those who rape the intoxicated. This is likely because of the view that these rapes are self-inflicted when they are no such thing. Pervasive attitudes enable rapists to use alcohol as a weapon and then as an excuse. This happened in the De Anza gang rape case where 3 women interrupted a gang rape of an unconscious girl and yet nobody was charged.

The number of rapes like this one are unknown because when someone dies of alcohol poisoning any evidence of sexual contact is excused as consensual.

The story about this crime doesn't begin by focusing on the actions of 2 teen boys which should have resulted in manslaughter charges as well as rape charges, it begins by focusing on the victim's life as if the actions of those 2 teen boys was just a normal part of life's turbulence.
Kierra Johnson, 15, lived a turbulent life that ended in a haze of alcohol and sexual violence on the afternoon of March 7, 2008. Yesterday, the second young man involved in her death by alcohol poisoning quietly pleaded guilty in a Philadelphia courtroom, as his co-defendant had done in February.

This introduction falsely positions the crimes committed against this girl as being the result of her choices and not just those made the day she died. Her history of giving birth at 14 and being expelled for having sex at school is irrelevant when it comes the causation of her death. Girls who go out drinking for the very first time can be given fatal dosages of alcohol and then can be raped as they are dying.

It doesn't matter if this girl would have consented to having sex with these 2 boys if she had chosen to do so when she was capable of giving consent. When people claim it does matter they are enabling rape and they are enabling it against those who are dying of alcohol poisoning.

This girl's death was the result of those 2 teenage boys choices once this girl was overcome by the level of alcohol in her bloodstream from consumption which they both witnessed. Instead of rape they should have chosen to call 911.

All those who excuse these boys and others whose victims don't die contribute to crimes like this one and are not truly decent human beings even if they themselves wouldn't commit rapes such as this. People who are truly decent do not enable rape under any circumstance or against anybody.


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

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Body of Woman Suspected Dead After Last Being Seen With Sex Offender Found

The body of Laura Garza, who disappeared in 2008 after going to a New York nightclub, has been found in Pennsylvania. She was last seen with registered sex offender Michael Mele who has not been charged with any crimes related to her disappearance. The official cause of death hasn't been listed, but I suspect the cause will be sexually motivated murder.

Michael Mele is in custody on other charges, but at his parole hearing in March he declared that his sexual violence is in his past. He also stated that he wants to move forward. Even if there isn't enough evidence to convict him of Garza's murder, his only future should be behind bars.

This case is just the latest reminder of why those who denounce the term survivor for those who have been raped are showing either ignorance or disregard for those who are victims of sexual violence. This case should also be a reminder for why we need primary prevention and why we need to take all non-fatal sexual violence seriously and never dismiss it as nothing more than the victim's regret or a harmless accident.

Too many people are appalled by sexual violence only when it horrifies them. Too many people only want accountability in the criminal justice system when a sex offender has committed the most extreme examples of sexual violence.

The dismissal of date rape is a prime example of deliberate callousness since that term only tells people a tiny amount of information about who those rapists target. People can be brutal to those they know and those who they meet in social settings. When this fact is ignored in sex crimes it indicates a tolerance for sexual violence which contributes to the violence which is widely tolerated.

Telling women to avoid nightclubs does nothing to prevent horrific crimes such as the murder of Laura Garza. The danger is in the people willing to be violent and in the people who are willing to do nothing more than lecture those they view as potential victims until a sex offender does something which makes those people crave life in prison without parole or the death penalty. Each time someone focuses their criticism on sexual violence victims they are helping the sexually violent whether they mean to or not.

If people are truly and effectively against crimes such as the murder of Laura Garza they must never use alcohol consumption as an excuse or a defense. The same goes with blaming women for men's actions. Sexual violence is no more natural than murder. If we don't tolerate murder because it is natural then we cannot honestly tolerate any sexual violence.

When people victim blame they are siding with perpetrators even if they specifically claim that they are not doing so.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:39 AM   0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Carnival Deadline Tomorrow

Tomorrow night 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.

For anyone unfamiliar with blog carnivals, this terminology is used for collections of blog posts with different carnivals focusing on different topics. You can learn more by reading the Carnival FAQ.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:25 AM   0 comments links to this post

Monday, April 26, 2010

At What Point Is A Rapist No Longer Responsible For The Harm Caused By Rape?

The title of this post would be a more honest question than the questions asked on a forum entry entitled At what point is a rape victim responsible for helping themselves? by a person identified only as guest.
Rape is a horrific crime that stays with the victim, we all know this.

My question is, when do you stop blaming the rapist for the emotional disturbances caused by the event?

Say a woman is raped at the age of 18. If she’s still having emotional problems at the age of 70, is it OK to blame her problems on the rapist from 52 years ago?

At what point does the "victim card" expire? Or does getting raped once entitle you to a lifetime scapegoat for all your problems?
Great answers everyone, thank you!
The introductory disclaimer is proven false by the questions which follow. This disclaimer like many others is there solely to remove all responsibility for the dismissiveness of the questions from the person giving the disclaimer. This is so common that whenever I read a disclaimer I'm shocked when the disclaimer isn't proven false by the words which follow.

These are tainted questions and not genuine questions about emotional healing from sexual violence. They might as well be questions asking when the person asking the questions is no longer considered a complete jerk for dismissing the impact of rape and considering the remaining impact as if were self-inflicted.

Unfortunately this dismissive phrasing is so common that many people accept it as normal as several responders to these questions have done. And of course there is a man who uses these questions to dismiss many rapes as nothing more than regret.

Not surprisingly some rape survivors use their own lack of emotional trauma to dismiss more severe emotional trauma of other survivors. Their premise falsely assumes that rape has a generic impact. This premise also makes the false assumption that if someone doesn't experience trauma in the moment that there will never again be an emotional impact from rape.

When I read questions like these I always wonder why the person asking these questions is seeking an expiration date for rapists' responsibility. If the crime were stabbing or poisoning or shooting someone I doubt people would be use dismissive terms like "victim card" when evaluating the emotional impact of those violent crimes.

If everyone truly knows that rape is always a horrific crime that stays with the victim then the answer to how long the rapist is to blame is a given. The rapist will be forever to blame for the disturbances caused by the rape. If everyone knows that rape is horrific then nobody would minimize rape into a description as bland as "the event."

If there is a question about someone being to blame for the emotional impact of rape other than the rapist then the list of those to be considered must expand far beyond the rape survivors. It must include all those who learn about a rape. Did they ease the survivor's emotional trauma or add to it? And what about the police if the rape was reported? And the prosecutors?

Lastly, how about anonymous people on the internet? Do their words related to rape increase or decrease the emotional harm from that original rape? Are they helping survivors or are they doing follow up emotional harm which would make rapists smile?


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:20 AM   6 comments links to this post

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Denim Day And No Excuses

Yesterday was Denim Day which is an event which raises awareness about sexual violence. As part of this event they have a "no excuses" campaign (pdf). This is important because so many people who claim to be against sexual violence find one or more excuses for why an act of sexual violence doesn't count as violence or why it doesn't matter if it cannot be denied.

The most popular excuses are based on the belief that those who are taking a sexual action have no legal or moral duty to ensure that the other person is actually a willing participant and that they have no duty to respect unwillingness except under very limited circumstances. Under these excuses if someone else might consent or has ever consented under similar circumstances then actual consent is optional. Under these excuses unwillingness is often a starting point rather than a stopping point.

When I say that each of us has a duty to ensure that our sexual actions aren't acts of sexual violence I'm too frequently dismissed or called vile names. My view goes directly against a popular narrative that only potential victims of sexual violence have a duty to prevent sexual violence.

Too often rape is positioned, directly or indirectly, as the rightful punishment for behavior people don't approve of. Flirting. Going out alone at night. Drinking. Consensual sex outside of marriage. This positioning often results in rape victims facing condemnation from people who claim to believe in sexual morality even as they ignore or excuse rapists.

For me the no excuses must apply to all those who are sexually violent and to all those who negate sexual violence in any way. I'm always amazed at people who attack rape victims, either through victim blaming or rape denial, and who then claim to be victimized when their attack results in a backlash against them.

Too often accountability is only for victims of sexual violence and they are often expected to be accountable for actions which they didn't take and which they didn't consent to. That must stop if we are serious about preventing sexual violence.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:30 AM   2 comments links to this post

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Thwarted Rape Highlights That Sexual Harassment Not Always As Innocent As Defenders Claim

I've lost track of the number of times people have dismissed the seriousness of sexual harassment while claiming that women who have reported sexual harassment to the police or other authorities or who even make any claim of fear over sexual harassment are overreacting.

The most recent example of widespread dismissal came from the reaction to a Ball State University public safety notice after 3 female students reported being slapped by a man on a bicycle. A Facebook fan page was created to mock this safety notice, but this mocking indicates deeper dismissive attitudes.

This dismissal is based on the premise that those who sexually harass women, including unwanted physical contact, are not a danger to women and are merely committing harmless affronts. People who claim to support individual rights will declare that harassment or even groping are actions which shouldn't be banned by colleges sexual misconduct guidelines.

This premise, often marketed as fact, is undermined by a story about a recent stranger rape case case:
STROUDSBURG, Pa. -- Police say two East Stroudsburg University students helped stop a rape. It happened early Tuesday morning in Stroudsburg, Monroe County.
Police say early Tuesday morning, a 22-year-old woman was walking to her friend's apartment when a man grabbed her and dragged her behind a dumpster. Luckily two other women heard her cries for help.
This description of an attack matches what is often used to prove the contrast between the alleged non-dangerous sexual harassers and real rapists. There's just one problem.
The two friends then rushed outside... to stop it. "I remember pulling him and then pushing him on the ground... like throwing him on the ground." The woman says he got up and started to run away... she went after him... while the other woman called 911.

"I had no idea if he was armed or not. I had no idea if he had a knife or anything." The man got away... but the women were able to give police a description. They say it was the same man who was making unwanted advances towards them earlier in the night.

"Just by judging the back of the man I knew it was the guy that was following us at the bar."

"He made me feel really uncomfortable. He made me feel really scared."
This college student's fear over being sexually harassed doesn't seem so irrational when the same man is caught during an attempted stranger rape. Yet again and again people who claim to be against all real sexual violence will dismiss reactions like hers as irrational unless this type of immediate connection can be made between those who are dismissed as harmless and those who are scorned as monsters.

The dismissal of sexual harassment most likely meant that these 2 women who intervened didn't feel they had a right to report this man when his actions and his manner caused the initial fear.

We as a society have no problem when people report a prowler who seems likely to be planning a property crime, but we do have a problem as a society when people report troubling or even illegal sexual behavior that could be described as sexual harassment.

If we are serious about preventing the sex crimes that nobody mocks then we all need to be serious about opposing the unwanted sexual behaviors which are now too often mocked.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:59 AM   1 comments links to this post

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Preventing Domestic Violence: What About The Potential Abusers?

On the Thursday April 15th Oprah Show, Gavin De Becker, the author of the book The Gift of Fear along with a woman, identified as Teri, who survived an attempted murder attack by her ex-husband were the featured guests with the topic being how to help women recognize danger signs that a man she has or had a relationship with could escalate to intimate partner murder.

The more involved I get in primary prevention the more I notice the gaps in discussions about domestic violence.

The most important thing De Becker said is, "there is no role for fear in marriage." He was addressing this comment to women who experience fear early in a relationship with a man, but this is an even more critical message for men who use women's fear, especially of violence, as a relationship tool. Being alone must be seen as being better than being a domestic bully or a domestic terrorist. This is true of all who are tempted to use fear of violence as a tool.

What I absolutely disagree with De Becker on is his statement about domestic violence that the first time you are a victim, the second time you are volunteer. This is inaccurate and in no way helps women be safer. It not only victim blames, it feeds into rationalizations of abusers and callousness of bystanders.

There are ways to state that victims of domestic violence have choices, including ones they may not be aware of, without denying the reality that people can be victims of ongoing domestic violence.

Making choices based on fear is often dismissed as irrational, but those who are extremely afraid may have a more realistic view of the situation or person they fear than those who think of themselves as completely rational. Women who have reached out for the best help available in their effort to safely get away from an abuser have been murdered.

Deflection by potential victims of domestic violence is an imperfect process. One woman may escape a man willing to abuse or even murder, but that does nothing to reduce the potential violence from that man toward other women who don't evade or toward others who interfere in some way which can include the police. That successful deflection does nothing to reduce the rate at which other men are willing to abuse.

By the time a man has taken actions which cause him to be assessed as high risk for escalating violence through the 46 question Mosaic screening test for domestic violence too many opportunities have been missed for him to make choices where he wouldn't be a danger. When we talk about volunteers in domestic abuse we need to be talking about abusers not those they abuse.

An important aspect of this episode was De Becker's emphasis not just on getting out of an abusive relationship but on the critical importance of getting expert help to deal with danger which goes up when the relationship ends. For some women the men they are leaving are so dangerous and so determined to punish those who dare to leave them that those women need the same protection as if they were going into a witness protection program.

The mindset of some men toward women who leave them reminds me of historical accounts about the inhumane way some prison wardens viewed escaped prisoners. This mindset explains why these men can escalate to murder and continue to blame their victim and can continue to view themselves as upstanding citizens.

Because primary prevention is so important at reducing the latent danger and yet is so often overlooked, I need to highlight that people can assess their own level of danger to others. Many of those who abuse choose not to do this assessment accurately because they don't want to take responsibility, but this is a choice not an inability.

To look at this advice from the perspective of those who can prevent their own abusive behaviors I've taken some of the attributes of danger De Becker discussed and switched the audience from potential abuse victims to potential abusers.

So here are my adapted warning signs that you are committing or could commit acts of domestic violence. If you recognize any of these warning signs you are not currently a safe person when you are in a relationship. Look for these signs early in a relationship or potential relationship and take preventative actions quickly since you will be less invested in controlling that other person at the early stages than after months or years. Do not blame the other person if you detect any of these warning signs.

The first 4, which I've adapted and reordered, are primary warning signs. Because of the vastly different rate of intimate partner murder based on gender, the same warning signs detected by a man within himself must be treated as a risk of more severe violence.

1) Your pace at the beginning of a relationship is accelerated and you push or manipulate the other person to let you move the relationship faster than the other person is ready for or to a place they don't want to go.

2) You are persistent at getting what you want from another person after getting a "no" or other non-willing response from that person.

These are warning signs because they both disregard the other person at a very basic human level. If a relationship is built on one person's disregard for the other person nothing the disregarded person does can fix this dangerously flawed foundation.

Once those who disregard the other person in a relationship feel that they have rights over the other person that provides the foundation for all types of abuse without the abuser feeling any guilt.

The next 2 warning signs are about more directly abusive behaviors which are warning signs for the escalation of violence.

3) You are considering or have committed symbolic violence such as destroying wedding pictures or objects which are important to the other person to intimidate or control that person.

4) You use or are tempted to use physical violence, including pushing, for any reason other than genuine self-defense against a physical attack.

Getting a woman to buckle means you have failed since you are not the equivalent of a prison warden breaking a prisoner to comply or else. Depending on the context of that buckling, you could be committing a felony and have nobody but yourself to blame for that crime and any negative consequences you experience.

Here are other warning signs:

5) Your gifts to partners or potential partners have primarily been things which you continue to have control over or are things you can use to control or monitor the other person.

6) You have failed to take responsibility for your own actions and instead looked to blame others.

7) You have responded to conflict by using threats or intimidation.

8) You have harassed other people.

9) You have failed to comply with court orders.

10) You abuse drugs or alcohol.

11) You lure another person into a relationship with you rather than developing a relationship with the other person.

12) You give orders in a relationship.

13) You believe having someone do everything you want is a sign of being loved.

14) You want children with the other person at least in part because that will give you a bond the other person cannot break.

15) You place less value on the other person's opinion or welfare than on your own opinion or welfare.

16) You believe being married makes the other person your property.

Hitting or choking someone you are in a relationship isn't a clue that you are an abuser, it ends the mystery about whether you are an abuser or not. If you cannot or will not stop yourself from violence, you need to get out and stay out until you can and will refrain from abuse.

Don't try to talk someone else out of their fear response to something you did. Learn from their fear so that you change your behavior so that those closest to you never have reason to fear you.

Remember if you abuse you are a volunteer to the abuse and you have other non-abusive choices. People may ask her why she stays, but they should be asking abusers, "Why do you continue to harm?"


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:21 PM   1 comments links to this post

Monday, April 19, 2010

Presumptively Innocent vs Actually Innocent

In a comment on a post titled Myth Busting: False Rape Reports about claims made by Alex Knepper in American University college newspaper article Harlan Pierce of False Rape Society wrote after having some of his claims and citations about the rate of fraudulent reporting challenged:

"Our website is adamant in our opposition to rape, and any suggestion to the
contrary might just be met with a libel lawsuit. Got it? Our defense is not of
rapists but of the presumptively innocent who too often turn out to be falsely
I responded with the following comment (with links added):

The defense of the presumptively innocent sounds more admirable that the actual meaning of this claim since the presumptively innocent includes all rapists who have not been convicted. HP himself acknowledges that not all who are presumptively innocent are falsely accused.

People accused of making false rape reports but who have not been convicted are also presumptively innocent.

People charged with crimes over their reports of rape have been exonerated. One of those cases was described in the book Cry Rape: The True Story of One Woman's Harrowing Quest for Justice. Another woman was awaiting trial when her rapist was caught in another county committing a similar crime and confessed to the crime police said never happened.

People who reported rape and who were not charged with a crime but had their reports labeled internally as false have been proven to be truthful. This has happened most often when these people were victims of a serial rapist. In one case a woman described the room where she was held prisoner and the police didn't believe her until while working on another case they found that room.

The number of sex crime victims who have been falsely accused and wrongfully charged is unknown since many rape victims don't have DNA or a confession from a rapist which can exonerate them. Each time someone claims that a person who reported rape made a fraudulent report and is guilty they are making that statement of guilt about someone presumptively innocent.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:56 AM   1 comments links to this post

Friday, April 16, 2010

Men Rape Woman Unconscious On Park Bench

A rape of an unconscious woman happened in the middle of the day at a New York City park. When these types of rapes are reported comments like this one are appallingly common:
What was with this woman passed out on this bench? Next time she won't get so intoxicated.

Would this person be so quick to view rape as a lesson for the victim if it was disclosed that the woman had lost consciousness due to a heart attack? The answer is likely no, but the victim blaming this person does contributes to the rapes of those even the most virulent victim blamers view as blameless. Excusing any rapist helps all rapists.

Thankfully, many people reject rape as a lesson and one of those who rejected this idea called for help so that 2 men were arrested and the woman could be protected from additional harm.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:01 AM   3 comments links to this post

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Carnival Against Sexual Violence 92

Welcome to the April 15 edition of the Carnival Against Sexual Violence.

Quick FYI for those unfamiliar with blog carnivals and who wonder about this terminology, the term refers to collections of related blog posts. Check out for more information.

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 Decisions to Rethink “Sex Offender” Laws when applied to adolescents posted at NSVRC, we get a discussion about problems in applying child exploitation laws to children who take or send sexually suggestive pictures of themselves and the problem of minimizing nonconsensual actions committed by minors.

In Rehauling Sexual Assault Law in India posted at, we get a discussion of 2 bills under consideration including 1 that has an exception for medical/hygienic purposes which might protect those who commit sexual assault or might allow non-emergency medical procedures a patient has not consented to.

In Texas Prisons Have Nation’s Highest Rates of Sexual Abuse posted at The Curvature, we get a discussion of findings which show that 5 of the 10 prisons with the highest rates of sexual abuse in the country are in Texas.

In Special Commission's Recommendations to City of Cleveland on Responding to Sexual Assault Victims posted at Feminist Law Professors, we get a discussion about the outcome of a review which followed failures exposed after a series of murders by a known sex offender.

In How D.C. Police Fail Rape Victims posted at The Sexist, we get a discussion of a lawsuit filed by a woman who was denied a forensic exam because she didn't know for sure if she'd been raped while unconscious.

In Unpaid Interns Vulnerable to Sexual Harassment posted at Women's Rights, we get a discussion of a loophole in laws which were supposed to protect workers.

media watch

In Don't Provoke the Perverts: Wearing Bikinis on Spring Break Heightens Your Risk For Rape posted at Zelda Lily: Feminism in a Bra, we get a discussion of the victim blaming contained in safety warnings.

In Why is the Eagle So Hostile to Feminists? posted at American Way of Life Magazine, we get a discussion of the editorial choices made by an American University school newspaper.

In Rape is caused by rapists, part 496 posted at I Am Not Cake, we get a discussion of a Sydney Morning Herald article about the rape of a 7 year old girl where the primary focus is on her 15 year old sister rather than on the rapists themselves.

In New Videos Based On Rape Prevention Tips Guaranteed To Work posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open, I discuss 2 videos which apply stereotypical advice usually given to girls and women in danger of being raped to men in danger of being rapists instead.

personal stories

In Sexual Assault: It's closer than you think posted at Bourgie, Interrupted, we get a discussion about the contrast between the statistics and many people's assumption that a lack of disclosure from those they know means means that those people have never been sexually assaulted.

In What felt 'normal' (date rape) posted at Et tu, husband?, we get a discussion about a realization that claims of what boys or men are entitled to take in certain situations can cause someone to not properly label sexual assault for years.

In Men Can Be Feminists posted at Search For Balance, we get a discussion of a man's incorrect assumptions about girls and women's experiences which were highlighted when learning about the experience of 2 women friends who were harassed multiple times in a situation where he wouldn't have been harassed even once.

In Resolving through reliving: nothing quite hits the spot posted at One woman, many truths, we get a discussion sparked by the need to share reactions which seemed odd to see if other survivors ever had the same thoughts. From the survivor: "In this piece I write about a night I spent searching for a rape scene to watch which would seem so realistic that it would help me remember the feelings, which for once I wanted to remember rather than forget."

In Clerical Rape Victim's Statement posted at Godless Liberal Homo, we get a survivor's description of the contrast between how an abuser seemed in public to the abuse committed in private and we get a discussion of the aftermath.

In Sex doesn't sell: A follow up to the original essay posted at Genius With a Parachute, we get a discussion about how a lack of disclosure to actors related to sexual situations prior to an audition can interfere with trying to find acting work while respecting personal boundaries.

raising awareness

In Your definition of “anti-sex” is not like mine. posted at Feministe, we get a discussion of claims made by Alex Knepper which play on the stereotypes made in hypothetical situations and how these made up situations don't match the reality being denied.

In Rape Culture in Kenya posted at Women's Rights, we get a discussion of the increase of violence after the controversial results of the 2007 presidential election of Mwai Kibaki.

In SAAM is officially here!!! posted at Consent Turns Me On, we get a discussion of Sexual Assault Awareness Month and a short animated satirical video where a woman and man discuss SAAM and men's role in prevention.

In Sexual Etiquette posted at Practicing Empathy, we get a discussion of framing rape prevention as a guide to having only good sex and having spaces such as fraternity buildings be safe spaces for women.

In The Possibility Model Of Crime Determination posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open, I discuss the framing technique used to dismiss sex crimes by applying this model to a non-sex crime committed by women against men.

In We Are the Dead: Sex, Assault, and Trans Women posted at Feministe, we get a discussion of how sexual violence against trans women can escalate to murder because of violence permissive attitudes.


In Physical and Sexual Abuse Affects Women’s Choice of Contraception posted at Explaining Science to the Public, we get a discussion of research conducted by Ronna Chan and Sandra Martin from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill which examines the association between women’s abuse experiences and subsequent use of contraceptives.

In Reproductive Coercion Extremely Common Among Victims of Other Forms of Intimate Partner Violence posted at The Curvature, we get a discussion of a new study released by the Guttmacher Institute on the subject of reproductive coercion which focuses specifically on cis women who are the victims of other forms of intimate partner violence at the hands of cis men.

In Sexual Violence Of People With Disabilities posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open, I summarize a workshop by Nancy Fitzsimons from Minnesota State University at Mankato and provide links to additional information.


In CAMPUS ASSAULT: Continuing Impact From Center Series posted at Center for Public Integrity, we get a discussion of actions which have followed media coverage of college sexual assaults including proposed amendments to two federal laws, known as the Clery Act and Title IX.

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 @ 12:01 AM   4 comments links to this post

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Gender Specific Ethics In Response To Bullying Which Led To Girl's Suicide

As I read an article on Broadsheet about online bullying directed at 4 girls accused of bullying-related crimes which pushed Phoebe Prince to commit suicide, the selective nature of this online bullying caught my attention.

Three teenage girls accused of relentlessly bullying 15-year-old Phoebe Prince until she committed suicide entered not guilty pleas Thursday, but they have already been found guilty in the court of cyberspace. Anonymous trolls have taken it upon themselves to dole out punishment through a connected series of Web sites (since taken down) created for each of the four girls charged in connection with the case -- Ashley Longe, Sharon Chanon Velazquez and Flannery Mullins, all 16, and 17-year-old Kayla Narey. (The anonymous webmaster behind the sites explains that the two boys accused in the case, Sean Mulveyhill and Austin Reynaud, are excluded because "we cannot post text calling theim [sic] RAPISTS until they are convicted and found guilty.")
Since all of these 6 teens are accused of crimes and those alleged crimes are the reason for these websites, whatever legal standard is applied must be applied to all 6. Since it was not, the excuse for excluding these boys from vicious attacks has nothing to do with the legal standard of innocent until proven guilty. The person who created these web pages wanted to attack only the girls and was looking for an excuse to justify this selective attack.

This pattern of applying different standards based on gender and then providing legalistic sounding excuses for doing so is something I see repeatedly. If the police say a man committed rape, he cannot be considered guilty until a guilty verdict, but if the police say a woman lied about being raped, she can be considered guilty immediately. Both are accused of crimes but only 1 should not be presumed guilty.

This is nonsensical. The presumption of innocence is a legal concept rooted in constitutional rights given to all citizens. I don't lose my constitutional rights simply because I haven't been charged with a crime. Girls and women don't lose these rights because they were charged with non-sex crimes.

In these websites, it is important to note that a common response from those who hated these girls was for people, most likely boys and men, to threaten rape or to fantasize about these girls being raped. This shows at best a tolerance of rape, and at worst a celebration of rape, which is directly relevant to the original justification for excluding the 2 boys charged with sex crimes from attack.

The attitudes expressed in these websites contain the same toxicity which allowed these teens to justify their own bullying. Rather than being opposed to bullying those who attacked these girls on these websites set their standards based on whether they believe a particular target deserved it.

Thankfully, these websites were taken down, but unfortunately it seems it took the threat of legal action for that to happen. Freedom of speech is not a freedom to bully or to promote violence.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:24 AM   0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Duke University's New Sexual Misconduct Guidelines

I learned that Duke University has updated their sexual conduct policy from reading the Washington Examiner: Duke rape policy if you're perceived as powerful it wasn't consensual by J.P. Freire. He wrote:

The bottom line? You’ve committed “sexual misconduct” if you’re considered “powerful” — i.e. a lacrosse team player — and you have engaged in something that falls into what the university broadly defines as “acts of a sexual nature. [...]

Most disturbing is that this policy so broadly defines “sexual misconduct” that it makes no clear distinction between genuinely horrifying behavior and non-offenses.
The claim in the title of this post is a false once since the reference to power in the sexual conduct policies relates to use of that power against someone who hasn't freely consented. Freire is only one of many people who position themselves as against false claims while making one or more of them themselves.

Another problem with this criticism is that Freire chooses to label some non-consensual sexual actions as non-offenses simply because they are not horrifying. That is a position which dismisses many sex crimes, some of which are felonies. Who knows how violent a sex crime needs to be before everyone will agree that a particular sex crime is horrifying?

If sex offenders who prey on children can choose to elevate their victims to being like partners before being arrested and before being civilly committed, this false partnership is an even more attractive view for those who prey on teen and adult victims. This false claim of partnership can help sex offenders convince themselves and others that they have done nothing which merits negative consequences. This false claim plays directly into the denial narrative which positions most non-stranger sex crime victims as having suffered only from regret.

From many of the opinions I've heard about what doesn't count, the amount of violence these people need to view nonconsensual sexual actions as a serious matter is much higher than for any other crime. The excuse is often that sex crimes are serious therefore most sexual actions against another person's will should never be against the law or against any conduct policies. This excuse uses the claim of seriousness to justify not taking most sexual offenses seriously.

Groping is one of those offenses which often gets dismissed in the name of taking sexual offenses seriously since the victim is not physically injured. But video from a donut shop which shows a man identified as a health inspector groping a woman during the inspection shows that this behavior should not be dismissed as something which should be allowed by the law or by any policy. Since health inspectors can shut down businesses they have power which they can abuse.

Unfortunately, even with video evidence there are those who view groping by someone in a position of power as a non-offense such as several commenters on a post about this accusation. The first commenter finds fault only with the inspector's failure to notice a security camera. The second one calls her a faker. The third commenter calls her a prostitute. Another commenter claimed it takes two to tangle and claimed she was all over him. Another claimed she allowed this to happen.

This last claim is often made when someone's response is delayed or muted due to shock or fear. Truly reasonable people do understand that responses or non-responses which come from shock or fear are not indicators of consent. If they did not understand this then they would consider a delayed or muted response to an armed robber to be consent. The issue then is not understanding, but bias.

All of these anonymous commenters who expressed their bias are likely to support Freire's position since they eagerly disregard this woman breaking free only to be grabbed again and they disregard her statements about what the inspector did without her consent when her husband wasn't in the shop.

A university's sexual code of conduct policy needs to ban all actions which are sex crimes in that jurisdiction. If it does not then the university is communicating a willingness to tolerate sex crimes. Freire's standard, which too many people still use in place of the law, allows many sexual assaults to flourish.

If Freire has no problem with certain actions without consent then that standard only applies to actions directed at him. If he wants to announce that he is fine with others using their position of power against him or if he is fine with being groped without his consent, then he can announce his willingness to have those actions directed at him.

What Freire doesn't have a right to do is to negate or restrict other people's rights when it comes to sex and sexual interactions. It doesn't matter if he isn't horrified by the violations of other people's rights or by the misuse of power against them.

When Freire quotes from the Duke policy to prove the claim in the title of his post he quotes the following from the new policy:

Touching or attempted touching of an unwilling person’s breasts, buttocks, inner thighs, groin, or genitalia, either directly or indirectly; and/or rape, forcible sodomy, or sexual penetration (however slight) of another person’s oral, anal or genital opening with any object. Sexual misconduct also includes sexual exploitation, defined as taking nonconsensual, unjust sexual advantage of another for one’s benefit or the benefit of another party. These acts may or may not be accompanied by the use of coercion, intimidation, or through advantage gained by the use of alcohol or other drugs. (emphasis mine)
Nothing in this quoted section applies to people who are willing and who freely consent.

When I read the policy what I noticed and what critics of this policy most likely noticed is that it eliminates the most popular excuses used when the testimony of the person who reported sexual misconduct cannot be discredited as a lie.

Many people who oppose the heart of this policy will claim they are seeking to protect rights but if their opposition disregards people's right not to be subjected to unwanted sexual actions then they are not true defenders of rights, but are only using rights when it is convenient for them to do so.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:37 AM   3 comments links to this post

Monday, April 12, 2010

Carnival 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.

For anyone unfamiliar with blog carnivals, this terminology is used for collections of blog posts with different carnivals focusing on different topics. You can learn more by reading the Carnival FAQ.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:04 AM   0 comments links to this post

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Due Process Rights For Crime Victims

Many of my readers have heard or read someone who declares false allegations to be epidemic state that all girls and women who report rape should be subjected to police interrogations where they must prove their innocence and then be required to take and pass polygraph exams before their report is considered for investigation.

Unfortunately, this view of girls and women who report having been raped as the primary suspects is one that too many people who work in the criminal justice system still support. This belief taints the process and leads to statistics which are used to justify this belief.

Hostility and open suspicion can lead to rape victims who wanted to cooperate with the police deciding that doing so is unsafe. Many of these victims who were pushed away are viewed as if their decision had nothing to do with anything or anyone but themselves.

In Cleveland, Ohio the treatment of those reporting rape became a subject of review by the mayor's panel after failings were exposed after the arrest of Anthony Sowell for rape and for the murder of 11 women. This treatment is directly related to why so many cases stall early in the process. As the multiple cases against Sowell show, failures in investigations harm more than an individual woman who reported having been raped. These failures enable future crimes. But it shouldn't take the discovery of a house filled with the bodies of murdered women for the systems which harm women crime victims to be critically evaluated.

Those who continue to advocate for hostility as the default treatment of women who report rape simply ignore reality whenever it doesn't support their desired model for the criminal justice system.

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 2005 banned polygraphs of those who report rape, but that didn't stop an Ohio judge from ordering teen rape victims to submit to this test earlier this year.

Use of the polygraph and hostile interrogations where a confession of guilt is demanded as the price for the interrogation ending both can contribute to false confessions. No longer surprising to me, those who demand this treatment for rape victims often acknowledge false confessions when the person subjected to this treatment was accused of rape.

Those who want polygraph testing of all alleged rape victims or who tolerate other systemic problems such as those highlighted in Cleveland often defend their vision of how the criminal justice system should work as a needed action in order to protect the due process rights of the innocent. However, in these people's view those who report a rape don't have any due process rights.

They are wrong.

Crime victims do have due process rights and they must be given the same rights as suspects whenever they are treated as suspects for any reason. If any jurisdiction allows crime victims to be denied the types of due process rights given to suspects then the legislation in those jurisdictions must change.

Too often this seeming blindness to victims' due process rights is intentional because the violation of a victim's rights give those people the outcome they want.

Because of the widespread disregard for victims' due process rights I was glad to see that there is a conference focusing on this topic, Due Process for Victims: Meaningful Rights in Every Case, 9th Annual Crime Victim Law Conference sponsored by National Crime Victim Law Institute which will be held in June.

After stumbling across this conference I found that this organization has a scheduled webinar on victims rights related to college sexual assaults. Even though this webinar is only open to a limited audience, it serves as an important reminder that victims rights are important and must be upheld.

Here's information about the April 12 webinar Navigating Victims' Rights in Campus Sexual Assault Cases.
During this webinar, we will discuss civil, criminal, and administrative proceedings in connection with campus sexual assaults, and the importance of a victim's attorney in each of these proceedings. For a victim to go unrepresented can have severe consequences for victims. For example, victims may feel bullied by the administrative process (where the offender is often represented) and choose to forego involvement in the proceeding; or they may turn over privileged documents that could be used to their detriment in a subsequent criminal proceeding. Shelley Mactyre, a private attorney with experience in campus sexual assault cases, along with Meg Garvin, Executive Director of NCVLI, will be presenting.
With the number of people who continue to have no respect for many crime victims' rights, those of us who do care need to highlight these rights when people make demands that ignore crime victims rights.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:24 AM   4 comments links to this post

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Assumptions About Sex Crimes By Catholic Priests

In many recent discussions on news outlets about criticism of the Catholic church's handling of sex crimes by priests there seems to be an assumption that these crimes stopped happening decades ago because the civil lawsuits against the Catholic church relate to allegations of criminal behavior decades ago.

This assumption is false and it is dangerous as demonstrated by an active case in Minnesota.
NEW DELHI - A Roman Catholic priest charged with sexually assaulting a teenage parishioner in Minnesota said Tuesday he would willingly leave his native India and try to clear his name in the courts if the United States tried to extradite him.

Meanwhile, the bishop who oversees the Rev. Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul said he had overruled a Vatican recommendation that the accused priest be removed from the priesthood and applied his own lesser punishment.

"Unless guilt is proved, we cannot take any strong action," said the Most Rev. A. Almaraj of the Diocese of Ootacamund in southern India.
This statement is wrong. They need to take strong action to protect parishioners unless the person accused has been exonerated. This response assumes the allegation to be a false one which is what happened in many of the historic cases which have cost the Catholic church dioceses millions of dollars.

The mistrust of the Catholic church leadership is warranted until they prove that they have learned from the negligence of the past and have applied what they learned in a way which disenables sexual crimes.

From a Minneapolis Star Tribune story from 2 days ago:
For the second time in five days, evidence surfaced Monday that officials in the Roman Catholic Church ignored warnings from an Upper Midwest bishop about a priest sexually abusing children.

Bishop Victor Balke of the Diocese of Crookston tried three times to alert superiors about a visiting priest accused of raping a 15-year-old girl in 2005. The Rev. Joseph Jeyapaul, a native of India who served in the diocese in 2004 and 2005, returned to India before criminal charges were filed. Roseau County authorities are seeking to have him returned to Minnesota to face rape charges.
The good part of this story is that there are people within the Catholic church hierarchy who are trying to stop abusive priests, but the bad part is that these people are too often being ignored.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:59 AM   0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Possibility Model Of Crime Determination

After writing yesterday's post on yet another college student making a name for himself as someone who refuses to treat non-stranger rapes as a serious crime, I was thinking about how people like him and those who agree with him present stereotypical summations and generalities such that anytime consent is a possibility in that scenario that the allegation must always be rejected as false.

This got me thinking about how to test the validity of this model. If their methodology is sound then the methodology must work just as well for other crimes. I'll call this the possibility model of crime determination. This model depends on gender-based generalities about how those who report being victims often are motivated by regret.

So here's Alex Knepper's statement:

Let's get this straight: any woman who heads to an EI party as an anonymous onlooker, drinks five cups of the jungle juice, and walks back to a boy's room with him is indicating that she wants sex, OK?
The assumption is that since there is a possibility that a woman who takes these actions is consenting then all women who take these actions must be assumed to be consenting whether they are or not and this action meets the standard of legal consent.

Use of this assumption model is often defended because of claims that to not use this model would allow for thousands of false accusations. The assumption model is also defended as the only objective way to assess allegations.

This is something which I think of as the possibility of consent becoming the definition of legal consent. If there is any prevailing well-known belief in any section of the demographic most likely to be accused that a particular action can be consent then that action is legal consent.

To test this model, I'll switch genders and crime.

Let's get this straight: any man who hands a woman a new iPad on her birthday is indicating that he wants her to have that computer as a birthday gift, OK?
The possibility here is high since gifts are frequently associated with birthdays.

Because of the release of the iPad and the interest in what this computer offers many men are currently handing women their new computers without explicitly stating that this is not a gift.

The possibility model will look at this behavior through a filter of gender based generalities and acceptance of miscommunication between men and women so we can state that, "Women cannot know what men do not tell them." This means that all men who did not explicitly state that the iPad was not a gift gave legal consent for the women to keep those computers. Any of those men who file a complaint to get their computer back will be making an untrue allegation if they say those women illegally kept those computers.

Since this is a new product it is possible that many men are giving an iPad to a woman even though it is not her birthday. Men do give belated birthday gifts and they do give early birthday gifts. Sometimes men give gifts for no reason at all.

These possibilities mean that all men who allowed women to hold their iPads gave legal consent under this model. To declare otherwise would make the assessment of whether the computer was a gift to subjective judgment which would expose all the women who in their own opinion correctly presumed that the iPad was a gift to being labeled a criminal.

Women who presume an iPad belongs to them aren't like those real criminal women who stalk unknown men and grab iPads out of those men's hands. These women who were handed iPads cannot be real thieves because they want those real iPad thieves arrested and convicted.

Using this model, every man who hands something to a woman and every man who doesn't protest when a woman picks up something he owns must be presumed by law to be presenting that item to her as a gift which she can keep with the full protection of the law. Compare these men's lack of negative response to their immediate negative response when their possession is ripped from their hands by a stranger. There is a clear difference which under the possibility model must be presumed to be those men's consent.

After all, men do give women gifts and men often regret the gifts they give to women. Men also lie about their gifts to women.

If men don't immediately report the theft or if they do have any social contact with the women they are accusing between the crime and the report of this crime these men must be presumed to be false accusers. Men do seek revenge when a relationship goes bad.

This would create a system where men would have to be paranoid about everything they own whenever they are in the presence of women and where women wouldn't need to be concerned about what the man doesn't want to give her. He must ensure that he doesn't mistakenly take any action which has ever been presumed to be a sign that he is consenting.

To prevent the actions which men report as a crime, men would be encouraged to improve their communication skills so that they stop sending mixed signals. Men would be told not to get so drunk that they present gifts and then cannot recall doing so the next morning.

We would need to have a narrative dismissing date theft as an incoherent concept and supporting the prosecution of all "real thefts" defined as thefts committed by strangers in situations where gift giving is impossible.

If this model were widely accepted, men would need to listen to repeated lectures on their behavior. If men don't live paranoid lives and are robbed, they would be lectured on their foolishness for believing they live in a perfect world.

Under this model only if a man can prove that this woman is a complete stranger to him who had to use force to take something from him can his claim of non-consent be taken seriously. Corroboration of this force would be required.

If this model was as pervasive in non-sex crimes as it is in sex crimes anyone who stands up for men who had their possessions stolen by women they know would be considered to be part of the anti-generosity brigade. Those who support the baseless presumption that a gift was given would call themselves pro-gift.

This way of thinking clearly helps women who want to steal from the men they know with little fear of being accused of theft. It just as clearly harms men who want to live their lives so they don't have to be afraid of losing everything they own if they are not constantly vigilant in mixed company.

It should be clear when looking at the possibilities model applied to thefts that this model is worse than useless since it actually supports the type of crime it is applied to. Yet many people continue to defend this model when it enables sexual violence and supports false allegations against victims of sexual violence.

Possessions taken by women from men have the potential of being returned, but what was taken in a sex crime cannot be returned. Therefore, it is imperative that we abandon the possibility model immediately.

This harmful approach to evaluating sex crimes based on stereotypes and group think has been around for generations, but that doesn't mean it has to continue with the support of college newspapers or any other institutions which have the legal duty to look out for the safety of those who live or work or learn inside this institution.

Those who claim there is no better system to evaluate and investigate sex crimes are wrong. The National District Attorneys Association has published Prosecuting Alcohol Facilitated Sexual Assault (pdf). The National Center for the Prosecution of Violence Against Woman has published False Reports: Moving Beyond the Issue to Successfully Investigate and Prosecute Non-Stranger Sexual Assault (pdf).


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:02 AM   3 comments links to this post

Monday, April 05, 2010

Alex Knepper: Men Cannot Know What Women Do Not Tell Them

In March, an American University newspaper called the Eagle published an opinion piece titled Dealing with AUs Anti-Sex Brigade by Alex Knepper. Like too many other college opinion pieces from men who feel entitled to tell women what they are doing wrong when it comes to sex this one contains a rant based on a recycled mass false allegation with college women who report rape as guilty parties.

Sex isn’t about contract-signing. It’s about spontaneity, raw energy and control (or its counterpart, surrender).
In this view of sex, the control belongs to men and surrender is what women must do. Surrender is a word that in this context means that I should be denied my human right to limit who gets to be spontaneous toward me and in what way. When I and others speak up for this basic human right we are anti-sex. To be pro-sex according to Knepper I would need to abandon an important human right and spoilsport that I am, I refuse to do so.

According to Knepper, "Feminist religious dogma [...] states that men are essentially are born as eunuchs [non-sexually violent humans], only to have wicked masculinity [sexual bullying] imposed on them by [learned from] an evil society [social norms which support or excuse sexual violence]."

So feminists who do not believe that men are born sexually out of control must be condemned. The idea of all boys being born sexually out of control helps sexually violent boys and men to shift responsibility for their actions off themselves. Under this view, of course any woman who agrees to be alone with a man or catches his sexual attention should expect to be raped if she doesn't want to have sex with him. Of course, Knepper refuses to call this rape. This is merely men's right to control.

This perspective is very self-serving for boys and men who want the legal right to be sexually violent toward those who interact with them without negative consequences for anybody except those they target for violence.

Knepper wrote in his original column:
Let's get this straight: any woman who heads to an EI party as an anonymous onlooker, drinks five cups of the jungle juice, and walks back to a boy's room with him is indicating that she wants sex, OK?
This is positioned as an action which must be treated as if it were legal and irrevocable consent. And any woman who can be described this way must be viewed as making a false allegation if she reports having been raped.

It doesn't matter to Knepper that clear communication of non-consent can happen within this shorthand summation. His generic and stereotypical summation must trump the specific actions taken or not taken when assessing rape allegations, but only if that allows people to make false allegations against rape victims.

Pro-sex in this context seems to be a desire to maximize what is called sex and to minimize what is called sexual abuse or sexual assault or rape. And if you need to ignore individual criminal actions to do this then so be it.

In defending his work, Knepper of course has to provide a stock disclaimer to prove that his brand of pro-sex is not synonymous with pro-rape.

In an interview Monday he [Knepper] said that "real rape," which occurs when a stranger "thrusts sex into a non-sexual situation," is a heinous crime and rapists should be severely punished.

"I have a fun time stirring the pot," Knepper said. "I don't mind being hated for my views."
He may have fun but does he mind being loved by non-stranger rapists (the majority of all rapists) for his views which provide them much needed protective cover? He even protects those stranger rapists who attack in what Knepper would describe as a sexual situation. This definition turns all rightful accusations of rape against non-strangers into false claims of rape.

If the only sexual violence which counts as a real crime are a subset of stranger attacks, Knepper's admonishment in his original column that people "... embrace the fires of sexuality!" becomes a dangerous choice for women since doing so will cause people like Knepper to make false allegations against all these women whenever they rightfully report having been raped.

Once a woman is in a sexual situation, whatever a man does to her cannot be real rape according to Knepper and many others. This enablement of not real rape blocks the freedom of women to embrace their sexuality.

By Knepper's definition of "real rape" he has proven that his definition of what counts as rape is much narrower than the legal definition. This means that who he hurts could extend to boys and men who believe that anything outside of Knepper's definition of rape is legal and they could make decisions which lead them to earning their way onto the sex offender registry. It will also hurt non-violent men when women who are lectured on what doesn't count as rape believe the lectures and then apply this standard in how they get what they want from men.

After the backlash began Knepper went on The Early Show on CBS and said:
"Men cannot know what women do not tell them," he said, adding that "there are so many men out there whose lives have been devastated by false claims of rape."
This first statement is used as a red herring to allow the baseless presumption by men that women are consenting. Yet if Knepper truly believes that "men cannot know what women do not tell them" then that means that men can never presume they have a woman's consent. Any man who makes a presumption of consent cannot therefore claim to be the target of a false claim of rape.

If what women tell men matters in determining whether a man committed rape then Knepper must believe that real rape can be committed by non-strangers in a sexual situation. This directly contradicts his statement about real rape.

In Knepper's original column he writes: "Don’t jump into the sexual arena if you can’t handle the volatility of its practice!" But he is not including men in this admonishment. If men cannot or will not figure out when a woman is not consenting Knepper makes it clear those men don't need to stay out of the sexual arena and he is making it clear that they should not be held accountable if they rape women.

Using his own statement of fact about what men don't know Knepper should be an advocate for all men using the most extreme version of the affirmative consent requirement in every sexual situation. All men who refuse to use this standard must be considered by Knepper to be unable to handle the volatility of sexual interactions.

According to the logic behind Knepper's own statement about what men do not understand, any man who was not given explicit consent to specific actions cannot validly claim consent as his defense. Every accused rapist who says, "She didn't say no," must, by Knepper's own claim, be viewed as someone who has confessed to being a rapist.

So using Knepper's quoted statements of fact, a huge number of men must be considered simultaneously to be rapists and non-rapists. For too many people their solution to this contradiction is to ignore most rapes rather than to look critically at what statements of fact Knepper and others put forth which are not facts at all.

By Knepper's own definition of real rape he wants to deny all women our legal right to be protected from rapists who are known to us or who will falsely claim to be known to us or who will claim they were in a sexual situation. He not only wants to deny us our human rights, he wants to be able to make a mass false allegation against women whose rapes he chooses to deny. Women who make allegations of rape are repeatedly told that we must have proof, but men who make allegations against those who disclose or report having been raped only need speculation and stereotypes to be considered reliable.

Those beliefs make everything Knepper writes or says about sexual violence non-credible.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:24 AM   5 comments links to this post

Friday, April 02, 2010

New Videos Based On Rape Prevention Tips Guaranteed To Work

The Sexual Violence Center in Minneapolis has produced 2 new videos based on the idea which inspired by sexual assault prevention tips guaranteed to work.

Sexual Violence Prevention Tip #1: Be clear about your sexual intentions and limits

Sexual Violence Prevention Tip #2: Use the buddy system.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:07 AM   3 comments links to this post

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Carnival Against Sexual Violence 91

Welcome to the April 1 edition of the Carnival Against Sexual Violence.

Quick FYI for those unfamiliar with blog carnivals and who wonder about this terminology, the term refers to collections of related blog posts. Check out for more information.

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:

creative expression

In untitled posted at A Different Voice, we get a piece of art which reflects the feelings of many survivors.


In 'Retract your statement or I'll rape you again' posted at Clerical Whispers, we get a look at how a violent priest can scare a victim into recanting and how what people then label as a malicious allegation can be true.

In A Stern Reiteration posted at PC Bloggs - a Twenty-first Century Police Officer, we get a discussion of an issue not addressed in the report on the handling of sexual assault cases in England and Wales by Baroness Stern and that is the cynicism directed at rape victims.

In Major Victory Against Rape Apologist Hate Speech in South Africa posted at Feministing, we get a discussion of a ruling which declared that ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema was guilty of hate speech in his comments to a group of 150 University students last May on why South African President Jacob Zuma's rape accuser must have enjoyed having sex with him.

In Clinic Students at Columbia Law School Write Domestic Violence Training Manual posted at Gender & Sexuality Law Blog, we get a discussion of a document which frames and reinforces an international human rights approach to domestic violence/gender-based violence advocacy and underscores the growing interest among domestic violence lawyers and advocates in international human rights law strategies to address client needs.

In Crimes Against Women posted at Speak Without Interruption, we get a discussion about the contrast between reports of rape in Harlem and the official police statistics for rape in that same location.

In More On The Under-Reporting Of Rape posted at The Crime Analyst's Blog, we get a response to how rape cases are handled including where a judge in juvenile court ordered rape victims to take polygraph exams.

In Accused SAPD officer received previous complaints from TCRP posted at Texas Civil Rights Project, we get a discussion of the San Antonio police dept's handling of misconduct complaints against an officer now accused of rape.

In Speaking Out Against Rape posted at THIS IS NOT MY COUNTRY, we get a discussion about a rape case in Greece where the victims don't speak the native language.

In What Is Affirmative Consent? posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open, I discuss a concept which too many people claim makes most consensual sex illegal and which they claim is a tool of oppression.

media watch

In New Men Can Stop Rape posters and military sexual trauma posted at Men's Anti-Violence Council's Blog, we get information about rape prevention posters which tap into the best attributes of what it means to be a soldier to get soldiers invested in prevention.

In Arsevertising: Calvin Klein Rape Culture posted at Hoyden About Town, we get a discussion of a campaign where talk which typifies sexual harassment is used to sell men's underwear.

In “Get a gun?” Get a clue. posted at The Pursuit of Harpyness, we get a discussion of the common response to a story where a woman was brutally attacked is for women to be ordered to get a gun.

In Debating Campus Sexual Assault Policies … How to Do It, and How Not To posted at Student Activism, we get an analysis of a reaction to Jaclyn Friedman's op-ed in the Washington Post on colleges' judicial processes related to sexual violence.

In Dear Ladies: Please Stop Making People Rape You. posted at ooh la la, lindsey, we get a discussion of how the Orlando Sentinal covers rape.

In It’s Not Sex, It’s Rape: Prostituting-A-Disabled-Child Edition posted at Hoyden About Town, we get a discussion about how terminology undermines the reality of what someone has done to a child.

In On Bravery posted at Amplify Yes Means Yes, we get a discussion about how praise for someone who speaks out can unintentionally reinforce the fear people have of speaking out.

personal stories

In Sometimes... posted at Getting Somewhere, we get a discussion of overhearing 2 young men as they looked at a picture of a hot girl and talking about whether they would rape her.

raising awareness

In In which I encounter the rape culture (Not for the first time) posted at Practicing Empathy, we get a description of visiting college as an alumni and returning to a partner's fraternity only to hear very disturbing discussions by current fraternity members about women they know.

In Not In Our Community posted at (Wo)Men Speak Out's Blog, we get a discussion about the common response when someone brings up the issue of abuse and the defensive attacks which can come from that denial.

In Sexual Assault Prevention in the Corps - Are We Doing Enough? posted at Midwest Marines, we get a discussion about what the Marines are doing to prevent sexual violence and what they can do better.

In Inevitability of Rape? posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open, I respond to a series of YouTube videos where a man claims that a woman's lifestyle made her rape inevitable.

In Why Words Matter: Victim-Blaming and Gender Inequality posted at Change Happens, we get a discussion about how statements which support inequality can in very different ways undermine the initiative of those viewed negatively.

In The Problem with The Notion of the "Decent Guy" posted at Hysteria!, we get a discussion of the concept that boys and men who defend dangerous rape myths are "decent guys" themselves as long as they themselves haven't committed rape.

In Predator Theory posted at Fugitivus, we get a discussion of research which shows that serial rapists operate with identifiable patterns that can be witnessed and interrupted. and that the patterns exploit misogyny, victim-blaming, and misperceptions about what abuse is and whether or not it’s will be treated as a crime.


In Self-Hate is Hard to Kill posted at rmott62, we get a discussion of the impact left from years of abuse.


In Losing the "gender" in gender-based violence posted at CALCASA, we get a discussion about how erasing gender from discussions of domestic violence helps to promote the idea that this violence is reciprocal when it is not and how this false equality is supported by some measurements of violence which ignore context and measure self-defense as equal to an initial attack.

In Cat-Calling, ?Bystander Sexism,? and How Sexual Harassment Hurts Men posted at The Sexist, we get a discussion of the results of a study from University of Connecticut researchers Stephenie Chaudoir and Diane Quinn.

In On Prison Rape and Complacency posted at The Curvature, we get a discussion sparked by an article in the NY Review of Books by David Kaiser and Lovisa Stannow about the enormous problem of prison rape in the U.S. and how to adequately address it.

In Abusive Men Overestimate the Rate at Which Other Men Abuse posted at The Curvature, we get a discussion of research which found that abusive men believed a higher percentage of men committed abuse than non-abusive men.


In Risk Reduction Doesn't Work posted at Boston Area Rape Crisis Center barcc blog, we get a discussion about why solutions which only change the behavior of potential victims don't reduce the amount of violence committed.

In Confirmation Received from Director Williams posted at First Response Action, we get a discussion of efforts to reduce sexual violence against Peace Corp workers.

take action

In DEADLINE EXTENSION/ UPDATED CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS posted at Survivor World, we get information about an open call for submissions through May 1, 2010.

In Sexual assault, triggers, and the problem of male privilege in activism posted at Female Impersonator, we get a discussion of a man who doesn't understand the effects of sexual violence enough to understand that survivors can be triggered by certain ways of discussing sexual violence and the difficulty of getting someone to recognize that meaning well isn't enough.

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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