— Mallika Dutt, Women in the World Summit 2013
Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richardson are not the “stars” of the Steubenville rape trial. They aren’t the only characters in a drama playing out in eastern Ohio. And yet a CNN viewer learning about the Steubenville rape verdict is presented with dynamic, sympathetic, complicated male figures, and a nonentity of an anonymous victim, the ‘lasting effects’ of whose graphic, public sexual assault are ignored. Small wonder, then, that anyone would find themselves on the side of these men—these poor young men, who were very good at taking tests and playing sports when they were not raping their classmates."
Mallory Ortberg of Gawker, critiquing CNN’s disgusting response to the Stuebenville rape trial verdicts.
Her commentary is spot on.
Zerlina Maxwell, feminist pundit and rape survivor, went on the Hannity show last week to discuss rape and guns - two hot topics that have recently been conflated into a (supposedly) pro-woman (but actually completely insane) argument for guns - that giving more women guns would prevent rape. She laid down some serious truths about victim blaming and rape-prevention:
“I think that the entire conversation is wrong. I don’t want anybody to be telling women anything. I don’t want men to be telling me what to wear and how to act, not to drink. And I don’t, honestly, want you to tell me that I needed a gun in order to prevent my rape. In my case, don’t tell me if I’d only had a gun, I wouldn’t have been raped. Don’t put it on me to prevent the rape.”
She has since received numerous rape threats. If anyone’s looking for a quick way to show your support, you can thank Zerlina here.
Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon interviewed Maxwell and weighed in on her appearance on Hannity, the guns/rape argument and the problem with focusing rape prevention efforts on women:
Absolutely, sometimes the rapist is the guy with a ski mask who jumps out of an alley. And no, he doesn’t care about learning to be a better person. But Hannity’s offhand remark that “evil exists in the world” reduces the experience of rape to one particular type – the violent stranger attack. Absolutely, we need to continue to empower women to avoid high-risk situations, to get themselves out of them when they’re in them and to defend themselves however they best see fit. But when rape is overwhelmingly an act perpetrated by men upon women, we also sure as hell need to stop thinking of it exclusively in terms of what women have to do to prevent it. We need to involve men and boys. We need to remember, as a revealing Reddit thread last year proved, that a rapist can be your friend or your boyfriend or your co-worker. We need to acknowledge that a rapist can be your husband. That, as chilling as it is to admit, as Maxwell says, “Those kids in Steubenville were average guys.”
Indian woman (and black-belt) is charged for assault after defending herself from would-be attackers
From the Times of India
The One Billion Rising (OBR) campaign held at Sanghumukham on Thursday had an interesting culmination. Amrita Mohan, a college student, who led a bike rally and presented karate and kalaripayattu (traditional form of martial art that started in Kerala) at the event, had to deal with two men who abused her after the programme. In tune with the OBR campaign, which urges women to ‘Strike, dance and rise’ against violence, she beat them up and filed a complaint.
“After the event, I, along with my friends and family, reached Bakery junction for dinner. I was on a bike, my friends in an open jeep and my parents in a car. As I was parking my bike, an SUV with a government of Kerala board also pulled in. Apparently, the men inside the SUV thought my friends and I were alone. So, they tried to irritate us by honking continuously. When I stared back, they started abusing me. We got into a verbal spat. One of them used abusive language,” Amrita said.
According to the India Times the men threatened Amrita, one pushed her father to the ground and then turned to attack her. Amrita, a black-belt in karate, responded by (in her own words) “attacking him back.”
Amrita has since been charged by the local police for assaulting the men who attacked her.
The Nation and Jessica Valenti have put together a list of ten ways to end rape culture, complete with links to a ton of great resources:
1. Name the real problems: Violent masculinity and victim-blaming. These are the cornerstones of rape culture and they go hand in hand. When an instance of sexual assault makes the news and the first questions the media asks are about the victim’s sobriety, or clothes, or sexuality, we should all be prepared to pivot to ask, instead, what messages the perpetrators received over their lifetime about rape and about “being a man.” Here’s a tip: the right question is not, “What was she doing/wearing/saying when she was raped?” The right question is, “What made him think this is acceptable?” Sexual violence is a pervasive problem that cannot be solved by analyzing an individual situation. Learn 50 key facts about domestic violence. Here’s one: the likelihood that a woman will die a violent death increases 270% once a gun is present in the home Remember, a violent act is not a tragic event done by an individual or a group of crazies. Violence functions in society as” a means of asserting and securing power.”
From the Guardian:
Ruth Moore, a US navy veteran from Milbridge, Maine, was 18 and eager to serve her country on her first oversees assignment when she was raped by her supervisor, twice. Her ordeal, and the military’s refusal to address it, left her so traumatised she attempted suicide, after which she was discharged, diagnosed with a personality disorder she says she did not have.
Moore, now 44, has since spent a quarter of a century fighting for compensation from the Veterans Administration before finally being diagnosed with PTSD related to the attacks. She is far from alone, according to two lawmakers who, on Wednesday, introduced a bill named after her that requires the VA to fix its “unfair and broken” disability claim system for victims of sexual military assault.
Under current regulations, veterans like Moore whose mental health issues are connected to sexual violence face a far greater burden of proof than other claimants suffering from the same illnesses. Yet, according to the Service Woman’s Action Network (Swan), military sexual trauma is the leading cause of PTSD among female veterans.
Why is sexual trauma the leading cause of PTSD among female veterans? Well…according to the DOD one in three service women report having been sexually assaulted. The Pentagon estimates that roughly 19,000 sexual assaults occurred in the military in 2010, and those numbers are even higher for women who have been in active combat (about one half report experiencing sexual assault). That means that we will likely see an increase in the number of sexual assaults now that the combat ban has been lifted. So we definitely need the VA to recognize and provide services for survivors of sexual assault. We also need them to do some serious reflection and fix whatever is going on in their culture/structure/policies that’s leading to these staggering rates of sexual violence.
Find the rest of the article at the link
Dear Mr. Mourdock,
Sometimes I still flinch when I’m touched a certain way, even if it’s the loving embrace of my husband. I can’t stand to watch TV shows where rape is the central plot line. Even some seasons of the year are harder for me. Those of us who are sexual assault survivors call these triggers. We spend our lives — the lives we lead after the attack — avoiding and managing these triggers.
A congressional debate shouldn’t have to come with a trigger warning. But apparently, Richard, yours should. Because in Tuesday’s debate for Indiana’s U.S. Senate seat, you said this Tuesday night during a debate in New Albany, Indiana.
“I believe that life begins at conception…The only exception I have, to have an abortion, is in that case of the life of the mother. I’ve struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God. And even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”
Rape and sexual assault are complicated experiences for survivors. Some of us fight, kick, scream, and resist at every moment. Some of us eventually give in to save our own lives or to manage the horror. Some of us know that what is happening is rape, others of us just know it is wrong, but don’t have the words to describe why. Some of us push the memories down and try to forget, others of us battle openly with the nightmares and scars every day. There is no one right way to survive. There is no one right way to feel.
As we heal, we learn not to judge ourselves or to judge our fellow survivors, because we learn that judgment can wound as deeply as assault. If a woman finds herself pregnant after a rape, we do not judge the choices she makes.
I am descended from American slaves. I have foremothers who found themselves pregnant with children whose birth increased the wealth of the very man who enslaved and raped them. Somehow, through the angst and misery of that experience some of those women found a way to love and embrace the children they bore from rape. So I do not doubt the compassion or judge the choice of a survivor who carries a rape pregnancy to term.
But the whole point is choice. Consent. You see, Mr. Mourdock, the violation of rape is more than physical. Rapists strip women of our right to choose, of our right to say no, of our right to control what is happening to our bodies. Most assailants tell us it is our fault. They tell us to be silent. Sometimes they even tell us it’s God’s will. That is the core violation of rape– it takes away choice.
Richard, you believe it is fine to ignore a women’s right to choose because of your interpretation of divinity. Sound familiar?
Let me explain something to you. When we survive sexual assault, we are the gift. When we survive, when we go on to love, to work, to speak out, to have fun, to laugh, to dance, to cry, tolive, when we do that, we defeat our attackers. For a moment, they strip us of our choices. As we heal, we take our choices back. We are the gift to ourselves, our families, our communities, and our nation when we survive.
Now let me say this very clearly to you Mr Mourdock, and to all of your shameless endorsers: we did not survive an attack on our consent just to turn around and give up our right to choose to you. Not without a fight.
Are you sure you want to have that fight?
MTV has joined old white men everywhere in blaming rape on victims. They’ve reached an out-of-court settlement on a lawsuit brought by Tonya Cooley, who alleged that she was raped by her Real World/Road Rules Challenge castmates while producers watched(and recorded). Details of the settlement have not been made public, but earlier this year MTV’s parent company, Viacom, responded to Cooley’s complaint by saying, “[Cooley] failed to avoid the injuries of which she complains. [She] was frequently intoxicated, rowdy, combative, flirtatious and on multiple occasions intentionally exposed her bare breasts and genitalia to other contestants.”