Posts Tagged ‘violence against women

14
Jan
14

Swedish Man Acquited of Raping Woman Who Screamed “No!”, or “I don’t speak Swedish, but I’m pretty sure “No” doesn’t mean “Yes” in that language either.”

Judge defends dominant-sex rape acquittal – The Local.

This one, folks….this one was just too insane and terrifying to not blog about.

Last week in Sweden, a man was acquitted of rape charges after he claimed the woman’s insistent screams on “No!” didn’t actually mean she didn’t want to engage is sex with him. Let me repeat, just so the sheer, disgusting insanity can sink in for you. A man was acquitted of rape for forcing himself on a woman who he admits was screaming “No!” until she actually went hoarse from the effort.  From the article:

“”I recognized the way she said no as a part of the sex; I recognized it from other girls,” the man said during questioning, the Metro newspaper reported.”

These two people had never met before the night in question. There wasn’t a pre-negotiated BDSM encounter with appropriate safe words. He simply claimed that she didn’t say “No.” in the right way, and that he knew this from “other girls”. He also admittedly “covered her nose and mouth so she couldn’t breathe and slapped her in the face”. Also from the article:

“But the man told the court that he was convinced the woman was into rough sex, saying he received “very clear signals” that she enjoyed what he was doing.”

Doesn’t that make you wonder how many other women this man might have raped under the guise of “well, I was convinced that she liked rough sex.”?

Don’t misunderstand me; I’m all in favor of whatever manner of kinky shit two (or three or four or a baker’s dozen) consenting adults decide they’d like to get up to in order to get their jollies, even if that includes pre-arranged and negotiated consensual non-consensuality. Your sexuality is your sexuality, and I’m in no place to judge what gets you off…so long as all the other parties involved are actually WILLING. But there’s zero indication that that is what’s going on here. Apparently in Sweden, you just need to “seem to like it”, even if you’re screaming “No!” loudly enough for the neighbors to hear (which is yet another disturbing fact from this case). That’s a pretty terrifyingly low standard for “consent.” The fact that the woman ran crying and barely clothed from the apartment as soon as she was able didn’t appear to mean much either.

In the end the judge in this case ruled that “it had not been proven that the 27-year-old had acted with intent to act against the woman’s wishes.” I’m really not sure how else this poor woman could have possibly expressed the notion that she did not want to engage in sex with this man. Do we need neon signs, a marching band, skywriter, and a national ad campaign to simply express our non-consent to sex? Is it really that difficult to grasp that a screamed “No!” actually means “No”, even in Swedish?

14
Jan
14

#NotYourTransStereotype, or “Kat Hacé writes beautifully on the perceptions of trans people.” (Reblog)

#notyourtransstereotype | Papier Haché.

Kat Haché is a recent addition to my list of favorite trans writers in the blogosphere these days. Her writing is brilliant, poignant and insightful. Plus, she’s also a grad student and a bit of a nerd, which pretty much put her stuff right the sweet spot here. I’m a little disappointed in myself that this is the first time I’ve reblogged her!

Her most recent (as of my writing today) is an absolutely perfect take down of so many of the perceptions and preoccupations the world has of trans people. This bit particularly hit home for me:

“I am not something to be ashamed of.  I am not the butt of your jokes.  I am beautiful, capable, intelligent, and not mentally deranged.  I do not look like a freak or exist to be gawked at, regardless of my attire.”

As per my goal of getting people to read lots of the brilliant stuff penned by the numerous talented trans writers now making their voices heard on the Net, I’m not going to say much other than the piece brought tears to my eyes, and that you REALLY should go read it. 🙂 Scoot!

 

25
Jul
13

Serious Allegations about Handling of Rape Cases at USC, or “Once again, it appears that colleges think rape isn’t a big deal.”

USC Student: Police Said I Wasn’t Raped Because He Didn’t Orgasm.

It looks like even major universities can’t get over that antiquated idea that rape is little more than “boys being boys,” and continue to patently ignore the safety of women n their campuses. The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights is currently investigating the University of Southern California after 13 women made complaints about how the university failed to appropriately address reported sexual assaults. The allegations include a woman who had her complaint dismissed by officials, even with recording audio of the assailants confession, because they desired an “educational” over a punitive process. Because clearly, this young man was just wayward and misguided and wasn’t aware that it was inappropriate to rape women. Another woman reports that a detective with USC’s police force declined to turn her case over to LAPD, and campus officials dismissed administrative proceedings because her rapist did not have an orgasm during the attack. It appears to these officials that it’s a-okay to forcibly penetrate a woman, just so long as you don’t inseminate her. A quick check of the California Penal Code seems to contradict this, though. And in an oh-so-classic example of victim-blaming and slut-shaming, one official advised a young woman reporting an assault at a fraternity part that she shouldn’t “go out, get drunk and expect not to get raped.” So in the mind’s of USC, all women who drink alcohol deserve to get raped.

I’m well-aware that there’s a long history of covering up sexual violence on college campuses throughout the US, and that the lengths to which these cover-ups go only increases with the prestige of the institution. After all, images need to be maintained, and being known as the home of dozens of campus rapes isn’t very good for marketing. Despite the stereotypes of universities as these bastions of progressive values and liberal ideals, clearly many of them harbor a culture with beliefs about sexual assault and women’s sexuality that resembled the 1920’s. Not shockingly, USC is far from the only school under investigation. UNC-Chapel Hill, UC-Boulder, Swarthmore, and Occidental are all also currently being investigate by the OCR. When you realize how important a college degree has become to succeed in the job market, particularly for women, it’s terrifying to wonder just how many young women have had their lives and futures destroyed because not only are universities not taking their safety seriously, but they can’t even be bothered to appropriately handle a rape after it’s happened. Rape trauma and the associated PTSD are real consequences of sexual assault, and they have very negative effects on your ability to function- you know, like going to class and passing exams. And who would want to continue schooling in a place that’s unconcerned about the fact that you were raped? I think I’d run screaming.

I can only hope that the OCR’s investigations shakes these schools into some major changes and maybe catalyze a closer look at sexual assaults on campus throughout our country. But if history tells me anything, these women’s cries will continue to fall on deaf ears.

24
Jul
13

Violent Homophobic Rhetoric in Ontario, or “Two brave women in Kingston are calling out some cowards.”

Letters To Kingston Lesbians Contain Bizarre, Troubling Threats (PHOTOS).

Here’s one of those items that I feel like I needed to share just to give more give more light to just how incredibly disturbing this is, and to make sure people realize that these sorts of things still go on and that our work as advocates isn’t even close to done.  A lesbian couple in Kingston, Ontario recently received some very disturbing hate mail, demanding they move out of town, or face violence. The first note is a page-long demand letter, addressed to “Lesbian Bitches,” and it lays out the plan of a supposed “small but dedicated group of Kingston residents” to force all homosexuals out of the city. They claim to have a “head office in the Deep South”, and to have successfully forced out several other people in the area, and it includes some fairly ominous threats including “You are not going to be safe at home, office or anywhere else”. A followup letter came days later (I guess they were expecting these women to just pack up and leave town in a day or two.) This is a much shorter letter addressed to “lesbos” informing them that they have purchased BB guns for their children which are intended to be used to “hunt them down” because “what better targets than you.” It ends with a note that these “fun and games” will turn “deadly serious.”

I’m just sickened by this entire thing. I’d like to think that this is the work of one or a very very small handful of truly deranged homophobes, and that swift action by the Kingston Police and the RCMP will find these idiots before this actually escalates into physical violence. I’m hoping against hope that there aren’t actually any children being indoctrinated into this kind of culture of hate and violence, and it’s all just more ploy for their sick game. But the realist in me has to admit that homophobia, even the violent and aggressive kind, is still alive and well that it’s entirely possible that some underground hate group IS operating in Kingston and legitimately threatening the physical safety of the LGBT community in that area (the letters themselves are threats enough to their psychological safety, even if they’re BS).

I applaud the response of these fantastic women, who have remained defiant in the face of these threats. They’ve peacefully protested this garbage by continuing on with their lives, publicly exposing the threats made (even writing about it on HuffPo), and packing their front porch with supportive friends and neighbors. I was really moved by the last few lines of her post about the situation:

As we make a point of facing these threats publicly, we can’t ignore the corrosive effect this all has on our imagination. It’s odd to be surrounded by all the support in the real and virtual world, and yet still think suspicious, fearful thoughts about passers-by. The deluge can happen in an instant, but climate change — both the physical and the social varieties — has been building for years. It has history behind it. So relocation offers aside, we’ll stay on our front porch with our friends, to take cover and peacefully stand our ground.

It’s sad to realize that such ugly homophobia can still pop up in an area as progressive as Ontario, but it’s reassuring to know that our community remains steadfast in it’s strength to withstand these kinds of attacks. Bravo, ladies.

02
Jul
13

More Violence Against Trans Women, or “Be careful, DC people!”

D.C. Police Investigate Two More Attacks On Transgender Women.

So there have been no less than six attacks in trans women in the DC area in the last two weeks. At least two of them were shot, and one sexually assaulted. It’s unclear if they are connected, or if it’s just a overall uptick in violence towards trans people. What it is, for sure, is scary and troubling.

What upsets me most is how little coverage situations like this get from the media. It’s a very real danger, and it’s completely ignored by most major outlets. So it’s up to us as a community to boost the signal, and make sure these stories get heard! It’s just as serious a crime to beat, stab, shoot, rape or rob a trans person, and it’s about time these crimes were treated that way.

Keep your heads up and your wits about you, DC people!

18
Jun
13

Patton Oswalt’s Moment of Clarity on Rape Jokes or “How one comedian made my day by publically pulling his head out of his ass and admitting his own mistakes.”

Patton Oswalt | A CLOSED LETTER TO MYSELF ABOUT THIEVERY, HECKLING AND RAPE JOKES.

Let me start out by explaining that I’m a pretty ardent first amendment advocate. I believe it IS absolutely your right to publicly spout whatever vile bullshit you so choose (so long as it isn’t slanderous, etc). But I also believe just as strongly that it’s ABSOLUTELY my right (and responsibility, and perhaps even privilege at times) to call you out for your horseshit, dissect it for lies, half-truths, and failures in reason, and then hold you up for as much ridicule and public shaming as I can muster. Freedom of speech always has two edges. Rape jokes are very much the same for me. I will never argue that it should be illegal to make a rape joke, but you better believe I’ll be watching you like a hawk for a reason to verbally eviscerate you if the joke falls into sad, tired misogynist tropes of victim-blame and rapist-apologizing. Unfortunately, the stand-up community seems to heartily misunderstand a distaste of victim-blaming “humor” invoking rape topics as a desire to censor…and that’s just simply not the case. We’re just looking for a little congnizance, a glimmer of recognition of the problem at hand.

Cue today’s reblog from Patton Oswalt. I happen to think that Patton is a very funny and intelligent guy, and I believe we see eye-to-eye on lots of things. So when I stubbled across a lengthy blog post from him with “rape jokes” in the title, I was more than a little concerned that I’d be reading yet another length defense of rape humor, and more indictments of feminists as a bunch of folks out to push censorship onto humor. Happily, I was rather taken aback at what I read, and completely impressed by Patton’s very public missive about the realization he had made, and the enormous shift in his views on the matter. Even more impressive was level of responsibility he takes for his actions, and his admission of the mistakes he had made. While it’s a lengthy posting (Mr Oswalt makes my writing look concise by comparison), it’s absolutely worth a read. But I’d like to share the one bit that stood out to me, and absolutely made my day:

Let’s go backwards through those bullshit conclusions, shall we?  First off: no one is trying to make rape, as a subject, off-limits.  No one is talking about censorship.  In this past week of re-reading the blogs, going through the comment threads, and re-scrolling the Twitter arguments, I haven’t once found a single statement, feminist or otherwise, saying that rape shouldn’t be joked under any circumstance, regardless of context.  Not one example of this.

In fact, every viewpoint I’ve read on this, especially from feminists, is simply asking to kick upward, to think twice about who is the target of the punchline, and make sure it isn’t the victim.

Why, after all of my years of striving to write original material (and, at times, becoming annoyingly self-righteous about it) and struggling find new viewpoints or untried approaches to any subject, did I suddenly balk and protest when an articulate, intelligent and, at times, angry contingent of people were asking my to apply the same principles to the subject of rape?  Any edgy or taboo subject can become just as hackneyed as an acceptable or non-controversial one if the exact same approach is made every time.  But I wasn’t willing to hear that.

Thank you, Mr Oswalt. Your introspection and willingness to admit your mistakes in such a public manner have earned you a huge measure of my respect. I hope the rest of the stand-up community takes a cue from you.

12
Jun
13

A Tragic Miscarriage of Justice, or “In Texas, the life of a sex worker is now worth less than $150.”

Jury Acquits Escort Shooter

When this article first came across my newsfeed, I actually had to do some research to assure myself that I wasn’t being duped by the Onion (and I think a lot of me really hoped that I was). Sadly, this is the real deal. In basic summation: a man in Texas was acquitted of murdering an escort that he ADMITS TO SHOOTING while he was allegedly trying to recover the money ($150) he had given her because she refused to have sex with him. Go ahead and re-read that sentence and let it sink it for a minute. The defense built their case around a Texas law that allows the use of deadly force to recovery property during a night-time robbery, and a jury found him not guilty.

I’m not even sure how to begin to form a response to his. My first instinct is just to jump up and down and shout “WHAT THE EFF IS WRONG WITH TEXAS?” until I go hoarse. But while that might temporarily make me feel better, it certainly doesn’t help anyone, and it definitely doesn’t make for interesting blogging. So I suppose I’ll jump on the most obvious problem here-  this case essentially functions as a state endorsement of vigilantism, and it turns non-violent theft into a capital offense. The general doctrine in the US is that lethal force may only be used when a human life is in immediate danger. Recently this notion has started to have some erosion as more states pass “stand your ground” types of laws that allow deadly force against an intruder in one’s home. While I have strong reservations about that legislation as well, this simply goes too far. This law allows individuals to exact their own brand of violent “justice” against someone who has stolen their property. While I’m sure much of Texas still harbors delusions that they’re in the “Old West”, we have a criminal justice system for a reason. Furthermore, capital punishment has long been reserved for only the most heinous of crimes, and the Supreme Court has relatively recently upheld the notion that the death penalty is only appropriate in cases of murder. But with this law in place, a relatively minor property crime now becomes a de-facto capital offense, as the victim is allowed to end your life to recover their property, without any kind of due-process whatsoever. It’s the ultimate express death penalty. And from my research, this is a law that pushed for by gun lobbyists (after all, if “deadly force” is going to be used, it’s unlikely to be with almost anything else). So what we have here is a horrifying dismantling of one of the most crucial right we have as Americans- due process- in order to slake the bloodlust of the gun activists.

Sadly, the destruction of due-process isn’t even the MOST disturbing implication of this case. To me, even more frightening is the complete devaluation of human life. From all angles, this woman was a victim. Whether this is a case of a plan to steal this man’s money, or a misunderstood assumption about what was being paid for is immaterial…given that this woman was under the control of pimp, she fairly certainly had no choice in what was going on. If she had refused, the relatively standard response from her pimp would have been a beating or worse. Furthermore, solicitation of a prostitute is a crime (and one widely codified as more severe than prostitution itself.) So if this man were expecting sex for his money, he was actively committing a crime himself, and at least to some extent, victimizing this woman. But despite the fact that this woman seems to bear the least responsibility in the situation, she ended up dead. Why? Because this man wanted his $150 back and he felt justified in shooting her for it, because that’s how little her life was worth to him. And in acquitting him of murder charges, the jury simply affirmed his belief…that this poor soul’s life was worth less than the cost of an Xbox. As sickening as that is, I’m STILL not to what I find the most disturbing about what’s going here.

One of the most upsetting things about this case for me is the realization that this woman died because of a man’s belief in his entitlement to sex. The problem with men’s entitlement belief when it comes to sex is a widespread one, and it presents itself in situations as relatively subtle as the constant complaints of “friendzoning” by men to as brutal as sexual violence. And in this case, it cost this woman her very life. This man believed that giving this woman $150 dollars entitled him to have sex with her, and when he did not receive the sexual encounter he believed he was entitled to, he shot her in the neck. Now, all of the testimony in place indicated that the matter of sex was never even discussed…this was simply an assumption that he had made based on the idea that he was paying her for her time. To him the exchange of money for time and companionship intrinsically implied the right to have sex with her. In my mind, there’s almost nothing to really here to establish that his man had been robbed of anything at all. But the results of this case essentially mean that simply because a man BELIEVES he is entitled to sex for a payment (even if there’s no direct justification for it), then the entitlement stands and he’s not legally culpable for taking her life to recover his money if she refuses to screw him.

There’s a darker implication here that I think is easily missed though. If he is entitled to sex with her by virtue of giving her $150 in cash, would he have been legally justified in raping her? Is her simple act of refusing consent an act of theft (which by Texas law opens her to lethal force)? It appears to me that logically, if her refusal to give consent constitutes theft, then by law he “owns” the right to have sex with her, and raping her would be legally permissible as she’s not legally entitled to NOT consent. So in one quick turn, you have essentially eliminated a sex worker’s rights over her body. She is now nothing more than an object, and her sexual function can legally (well, aside from the illegality of prostitution itself) be bought and sold without her consent. Imagine this…a young woman is sold into prostitution from Eastern Europe or West Africa to a pimp in Texas. Under the threat of violence (and possibly death) from her pimp, she is sent to service a john who pays her the agreed sum of money for some fairly violent and unsavory sex that is essentially rape. This woman now has two choices: endure the rape from this man, or risk being shot to death when she flees and he decides to recovery his money in the manner made legal by this law (and reinforced by this case). And where does this stop? What happens if a man takes a woman on a date and gives her a gift and expects sex? If she doesn’t give him the sexual encounter that he feels he is entitled to, can he shoot her to recover that gift? The distance between those two stories is frighteningly short. It’s all just one more disturbing example of how men are finding ways to increase and exert their dominance over women and their bodies.

There are even more ways to tear this apart and find implication, but I’m honestly emotionally drained and I believe my point is made. What we have here, at its core, is an absolute travesty of justice based on an extremely poorly considered piece of legislation, and the continued problems of an entitled male hierarchy bent on the control women’s bodies and sexualities. A victimized young woman receives no justice for her life being violently and senselessly cut short by a bullet, and we all lose a little bit more of our legal rights to consent (or not consent) to the sexual whims of men.

01
Jun
13

Patrick Stewart on the Power of Men to Stop Violence Against Women, or “Now I’m crying my eyes out and want Captain Picard to be my BFF.”

Patrick Stewart: It’s in Men’s Hands to Stop Violence Against Women.

Star Trek Captain + Amazing Speech about Violence Against Women = Perfect Fodder for  TNF.

Really, I couldn’t ask for a more perfect video to share with you all. Sir Patrick gives an incredibly touching and emotional speech about his work to prevent violence against women, how his mother shaped this work, and why men have the power to stop this from happening. All in his perfect English baritone. I broke down in tears right at my keyboard. He even takes a moment to check to see if the young lady who asked the question was okay (I think she, too, was overcome with emotion). I don’t want to say too much else about the actual video, because my puny written words cannot do it justice.

Seriously, can I just have a hug from him and an “It will be alright.”? I’m pretty sure that would make me happy forever.




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