Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's

This New Year's, this new year, like any new year, brings with it a plethora of possibilities. Chances to start over, to rid your life, and your psyche of all the bad, and make room for all the good. So here's some possible resolutions for 2012:

For the Men:

1) I'll start easy: Don't rape. When a woman says "stop," stop. When she seems uncomfortable, stop. If she's drunk, don't come close. If she pushes you away, go away. And I'd hope it goes without saying, that if she yells and hits you, you've already gone too far, and you should leave. And NOT call her any names, and respect her boundaries. She's not being crazy, or a prude. She's being a person, with her own wants and desires, and asserting them, as any man would without fear of repercussions.

2) Stop your friends from doing any of the above. Don't play those games of who can sleep with more women. Don't buy into the group mentality so prevalent in males.

3) Realize your privilege. You are allowed to be aggressive, to assert themselves. Women are expected to be timid, and are inevitably called, or considered "crazy bitches" should we speak our desires out loud. You can walk around at night and not be scared. You can have sex without being called a slut. You can walk through a bar without being molested. Consider these ideas. And work for equality in these areas.

4) Don't fight women...or anyone for that matter. Aggression isn't attractive. Manipulative behavior isn't attractive. Not to mention, getting arrested isn't attractive. In fact, all these qualities are entirely UNattractive, and more importantly, are behaviors that aren't acceptable in a parent, or any adult. Children are constantly observing everything around them. Omnipresent violence begets violence.

And for the women too:

1) Fight to end rape. Speak up. Find the courage to tell your story if you're a victim/survivor. And for everyone, say yes, when you mean yes. Say no when you wanna say no, Talk to the people in your life about the topic. Educate. Learn yourself. The personal and legal ramifications of sexual assault. What rape IS and how and why it happens, because learning about it, even as women, is the first step towards ending it. Men must stop raping, but women can help them get there.

2) Help. Women all over the world, of all races, socioeconomic classes, and education levels are trapped in abusive relationships. Dangerous relationships. Keep alert for signs of this in other women. If something seems wrong, it probably is. Talk to them, but don't pressure them. Just be there for them.

3) Don't make a resolution to lose weight. Unless you're clinically obese, appreciate your body. Exercise more, sure, but for the right reasons. Don't obsess. Look in the mirror every morning and say one thing you love about yourself. Feel beautiful.

4) Be assertive. Not just in relationships, but in life. In the office. Ask for that raise or promotion you think you deserve. No man would hesitate to do so. I'm asking men to be less aggressive, and women to be more so. Let's meet somewhere in the middle. A peaceable compromise.

I don't think any of those are too tough to handle. Especially for men who consider themselves poster boys for resilience. As Andrea Dworkin said, let's imagine a world without violence against women. Let's resolve this year, to end it. Call a truce. Let there be peace (to put it cheesily).

This year, let's love ourselves, and each other. Mutual respect.

Let's ring in the New Year right.

Friday, December 23, 2011


I'll be the first to admit I used to be on a dating site. I'm not embarrassed by this at all. In my profile on this site, I was upfront about this blog, and that I considered myself a feminist.

Oddly enough, most guys I spoke to, asked what exactly I meant by "feminist." I told them as best I could, and they either didn't respond, or expressed relief that I wasn't some "crazy feminazi that's angry with the world" (maybe not verbatim, but pretty damn close).

And at the time, I just kind of rolled my eyes. I knew most men would be scared off by my admission, and that was pretty much the point. If you can't handle it, then I don't want you to try. The odd part is, men hate feminists because they assume we hate them.

When, in reality, we're the ones that believe in men. I believe in the innate goodness of men all over the world. Feminists, and the people who fight against sexual harassment, assault, and domestic violence, regardless of gender, are the ones who have faith in the men who shun us.

I don't believe that men who rape or otherwise assault women are genetically predisposed to such violence. Or even irreparably socialized to this point. I've met men, not many, but surely some, who exemplify everything I believe men can be. Men who have grown up in the most masculine of cultures yet understand me and empathize with women in general. It's not impossible, and it is certainly not effeminate. They are certainly men to me, and to their friends. They can have fun, and joke around, and hang out at sports games and casinos, drink beer and eat wings, and play sports, yet somehow they maintain integrity. Somehow they get away with not demeaning or objectifying women. Somehow they act like real men should.

It's the rest of them who think I hate them. I don't. I have more faith in them than apparently most of the world. I have enough faith in men that I believe they can stop violence against women. I believe they, and really, they alone, have the power within them to end the culture within which we live that fosters rape, and a rape mentality.

So why are feminists the bad guys? Shouldn't the women who write men off as inherently violent and savage and just plain mean be the bad guys? Feminists don't hate men. We love them, like a parent loves a drug addicted child. We know that how they're acting isn't really them. It's something else making them act this way, and really, it doesn't need to be like that. Things can change. Violence, like drugs, is not inevitable, and it's possible to quit. It's possible to change, and through resocialization, it's possible to eradicate violence against women.

So get off the drugs, men. I know you're better than this. I am not the bad guy. Nor are you. It's a culture we all buy into that allows this violent behavior to be normalized.

And it can change.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

1 in 5

Somwhere between 20 and 25% of women have been victims of rape or attempted rape in their lifetime. This wasn't news to me. Apparently it is to others. A recent study of almost 17,000 people randomly selected determined these numbers. The study was conducted by the Center for Disease Control (more commonly known as the CDC), in conjunction with the National Institue of Justice and the Department of Defense. These aren't small, insignificant jurisdictions.

These are governmental institutions. You'd think a survey conducted by the government would want to show a reduced crime rate, much like how colleges claim their crime rate is much lower than it actually is. Yet this study shows that women (and men) are more victimized than most people know, or want to know.

I say want to know, because the comments on the articles I've read are....well unsurprising. It's a known psychological phenomenon that people will hold on to their beliefs even in the face of overwhelming evidence. In both the NY Daily News (a conservative paper) and the NY Times (notoriously liberal), the comments after the article are virtually identical in their distaste and disbelief.

The most common thought? "I know many more than 5 women, and none of them have been raped. Therefore, this study is wrong." Excluding the statistical fallacy in this line of thinking, there's two other major problems with it.

(1) how many people do you know have said "oh hey, my name is __________ and i have a horrible story in my past that i'd like to share with you" or even if you've known them for years, how easy do you think it is for women to share their story? especially in a society filled with victim blaming, many women never tell a soul what happened. And, news flash, if you're the kind of man who doesn't believe this stat, and actively tries to negate're probably not the type of man a rape victim is going to confide her story to.

(2) many women who have been raped don't consider what happened to them "rape." these studies don't ask "have you ever been raped" and then give stats based on the answer to the question. They ask questions about their sexual history and whether alcohol, drugs, coercion or force has ever been used. The same women who say yes to experiences meeting the legal definition of rape, also say at the end (when that original question does come along) that they have not been raped. so of course your 15 women friends will not tell you they've been raped. they may not even identify their experience AS rape. but chances are, at least one of them has (and statistically, three or four of them have).

Next question: Well, if women don't think they've been raped, what's the big deal?

Good question. Problem is, whether women identify their experience as rape or not, they suffer the same psychological distress. I've often wondered if there is a difference, in fact, in healing times between these women (the one who identify as a rape victim/survivor and the one who does not label the experience). I would tend to believe it's more difficult for the one who doesn't see it as rape. Now this woman is left with PTSD (as one third of victims are - ps that means 8% of women overall) with no true understanding of why. Even scarier, over 25% of women contemplate suicide after the trauma.

Similarly, men say "i know many men, and they don't rape people." Well, statistically, 1 in 12 of them have. and better yet, 84% of these men say what they did was "definitely not rape." so why would you believe your friends are capable of rape? the rapists don't even think they're capable of it!

In the Daily News, the picture accompanying the article shows women protesting rape. Which led some commenters to display their confusion. people don't protest murder, because people who murder, well they don't care about your picketing.

Rape is different. Because quite a bit of rape can be prevented by better education of what rape IS. Because men who see that what they're doing is rape may just stop doing it. (I won't even delve into the comments about how the women in the picture didn't need to worry about being raped, judging by their looks....i think we can all see the problem with that comment)

Yes, 1 in 5 women will be the victims of rape, or attempted rape in this country. And really, this isn't that hard to correct. Sex education needs to include sexual assault issues. Men need to learn what constitutes rape. Men need to learn that pressuring a women, including verbally, into sex, is rape. Anytime "no" is not accepted as an answer, there's a problem. Don't assume she's saying no because she thinks society wants her to. Don't assume she's saying no because she doesn't want to appear easy. Don't assume she's saying no but she really means yes.

We've come far enough that women can say yes when they want to. Anything less, is a no. and it's a solid, non-negotiable, resounding NO. As in stop. As in, don't continue whatever it is you're doing. As in, if you continue, it's legally rape.

20% of women will be victims of rape or attempted rape. 33% of these women will suffer from PTSD. 25% will contemplate suicide. 8% of men have raped a woman. 84% of these men don't believe that to be true.

I believe all of those. Through my research, both experimental and academic, I believe them to be true.

And comments like those on these articles are simple proof that we have a long way to go.

Stats taken from either articles previously linked or: Curtis, David G. Perspectives on Acquaintance Rape. 5 November 2008.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

PA Alcohol Education

The liquor control board for the state of Pennsylvania recently started an anti-drinking (or anti-excessive drinking) PSA campaign called Control Tonight. Good idea in theory.

In practice? Not so much.

Their message fails in half of their posters. So much so, that one ended up getting pulled entirely. Three show completely understandable, and appropriate messages. Two show how excessive consumption can lead to sickness, and death via alcohol poisoning. One shows a man getting arrested because drinking leads to aggression, fights, and assault charges.

All three are true, and their messages convey that friends need to look out for these warning signs, and help prevent these dangers. Getting sick is an inevitability with drinking too much alcohol. Fighting is a crime that the posters are blaming on the criminal. Good points. Good execution.

Now the next three, in order of offensiveness (starting with the most innocuous):

"He's too wasted to realize [the condom] broke" Really, what was he going to do if he did realize it? A broken condom is a problem if you're sober or drunk. This is completely irrelevant to drinking. The poster would be much better off had they said he was too wasted to use one at all. That's a big oops. This poster, as is, puts blame on alcohol where no blame is needed.

"She's never cheated on her boyfriend. Until now" Many problems. One is that this is the poster where they chose to use the minority couple. When blacks are often stereotyped and portrayed as hypersexualized, using them as the cheating woman and preying man poor taste. And that's what the picture shows. A drunk girl hanging on a guy who has his hand gripping her leg. He doesn't appear drunk, or happy, or really as anything but creepy. Which means he's taking advantage of her. None of this is the alcohol's fault. She shouldn't be cheating on her boyfriend, and he shouldn't be preying on drunk girls. What am I being warned against? Creepy guys, or infidelity?

"She didn't want to do it, but she couldn't say no" Of course, this is the one that was pulled. Where does one begin? The picture: a pair of legs with her underwear around her ankles lying on a bathroom tiled floor (the same floor with the broken condom actually). Actually, when I first saw the a, I thought it was a vodka ad...(which was even more appalling). But that's how sexualized it is. It isn't inherently disturbing. It's attractive. That's problem number 1.

Number 2 is the caption. Drinking leads to bad decisions. Like going home with someone you don't know very well. The problem is date rape tends to happen with two people who DO know each other well. Not the stranger you met at the bar (although him too). It's the guy you've been on a couple of dates with. It's your friend, it's your boyfriend. And getting drunk and/or making a bad decision isn't really why someone gets raped. It's why someone rapes. And the focus needs to be adjusted to that.

Number 3 is that of course, it's victim blaming. Don't drink too much, or you might get raped. Don't go home with someone, he might rape you. If you pass out, you can't say no to sex. Oddly enough, being drunk IS saying no. In all 50 states. Alcohol does not make you responsible for any crime committed against you. In fact, nothing does. Whether its robbery, assault, or rape, the only person or thing responsible is the person doing it. Sure, keeping your wits about you certainly helps to increase your safety from all of these possibilities. But I don't want to hear someone telling me I should stay sober, lest I get raped. Or robbed. Or assaulted. I want to see more preventative measures be taken against the perpetrator. Not the victim.

Number 4 is the trigger factor. One third of all rape victims experience PTSD after the attack. This number is the same whether the victim sees herself as having been raped or not. So now you have between 20-25% of women as rape victims, and 1/3 of them as having, or having had, PTSD. That means that 8% of women can be triggered by this poster. Even having no personal history of such attacks, I was brought to tears by the image alone. Shock factor goes a little overboard here.

They eventually pulled the poster, after such outrage ensued, leading an almost equal number of people to vilify us who found it offensive. I think one person said it perfectly:

Katelyn Cummings
How effective do you think this messaging is? Your scare tactics have continued to fail, and even if they work, I imagine it is only to make people feel shitty about themselves after the fact. Imagine a women gets raped only to have this kind of messaging telling her that she should have had a little less to drink. I think it's irresponsible and insensitive.

(bolding mine)

Telling people to be careful is not victim blaming. Telling someone to be a responsible drinker is not victim blaming. But plastering a woman's legs in a post rape, sexual pose, and saying "doesn't that suck? you shouldn't have gotten drunk" is a problematic campaign.

And I'm glad it's gone.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Media Headlines

Rochester, N.Y. area teen charged with setting fire to home, killing father, 2 brothers

Dozens arrested in Occupy DC protests

Police: Female student stabbed by two girls from a rival school

Police: Customer Punches Cabbie in the Face; Fox Island Man Stabs Neighbor

Man Charged with Inappropriately Photographing Target Shoppers, Man Hospitalized Following Dispute on Harding Avenue

Cabby raped me, says ‘drunken’ passenger

To me, one of these headlines is not like the others. Only one of them has the implication of lying in it. Only one focuses on the victim's flaws/character/state of mind, and only one neglects the criminal aspect of the story. All except the last one involve either the police (and what they believe happened) or arrests that were made, or horrors that "happened." The last one is nothing more than an accusation in a headline. Baseless, as compared with the others.

To top it off, the accuser is drunk. Readers would be inclined to believe in all of these stories based on the headlines...except the last. The article on rape invites the reader to make their own judgement, and steers that judgement towards acquittal.

The woman is saying, not the police. The woman was raped, not the cabbie raped her. Police say two girls stabbed a third. A teen was charged with killing his family.

Rape myths are perpetuated in news media in subtler ways than this. I'd say this one is fairly obvious. But a study was done during the Kobe Bryant rape case asking what the effect of these rape supportive headlines was on the general population.

What harm does a <10 word headline do? A lot. And it is much more prevalent than you'd think. In 555 headlines, 6% implied the victim was lying, and over 4% contained victim blaming ideas. They were also more likely to use the term "accuser" rather than "alleged victim."

People who read these headlines, and then the articles are more likely to believe the victim is lying, even when faced with evidence to the contrary.

Men are more likely to show rape supportive beliefs after reading headlines with rape myths than after reading sexual assault headlines without such myths.

And what do these headlines do to a possible trial? With every other crime, the media tends to pit the public against the defendant (think Casey Anthony, OJ Simpson). In rape cases, the opposite is true. The media goes out of its way to question the victim (think DSK, Duke rape case).

Is it any surprise that allegations of rape decline in the aftermath of high profile cases? That suddenly, women are afraid to tell their story after a news media rips apart the character and past of previous victims?

How can we promise justice to these victims, if we torture them into dropping their case prior to trial? Why would anyone come forward when every past discretion and every sexual encounter in your life is subject to media scrutiny? When the media is poised to pit the world against you, and in doing so, pits the world against women everywhere?

It's time victims of (alleged) rape were treated with the same empathy afforded victims of other crimes. It's time to stop the second victimization associated with media harassment of these survivors.

It's time to stop perpetuating rape myths via every aspect of media, whether it's advertising, magazines, music, tv shows, movies, or the news itself.

End victim blaming in the media, and end victim blaming in society.

And end rape.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

NFL Cheerleaders

I attended my first ever NFL game this past Sunday, and I could not have asked for a better time. 1 o'clock kickoff meant I got to spend the whole beautiful day outside, and still get home early enough to get sleep before work. Plus, the Jets won with a last minute touchdown.

It doesn't get any better than that.

Except it could've been a little warmer. I was wearing jeans, a long sleeve shirt, sweatshirt, and jersey. And during the time outs, and breaks, I noticed the dancers on the field weren't quite as bundled up.

It's late November in New York. Does anyone really want to prance around in a bikini? I call it prancing around, because this is not the World Series of Cheerleading. There are no flips and stunts. This is, quite literally, women dancing around with pom poms. And this is a dream for many young women.

They are completely unnecessary sex objects in a game that is historically misogynistic. A game that is dominated in fanhood by men, more so, I'd say, than most professional sports.

Anyone on the field during gametime is there solely for entertainment. The men for their athletic ability, and the women for their sex appeal. In that sense, being an NFL cheerleader is like being a glorified stripper. Except they barely make any money.

Yeah, I went there.

They're not leading cheers. They're not showcasing any athletic ability. They're not competing against anyone, for anything. And, apparently, they're not allowed to be seen with any football player. One cheerleader says that if a player is at the same club, the cheerleader has to leave. Presumably because they don't want rumors swirling about relationships. Because if a woman and man are seen together, that must be what it is.

If someone could provide one reason why there are NFL cheerleaders that doesn't include objectification, I'd love to hear it.

I think William Rhoden of the New York Times summed my thoughts up perfectly though. "While cheerleading at the high school and collegiate levels has become competitive and athletic, today’s N.F.L. cheerleaders are little more than props that reinforce objectified sex roles. The professional cheerleader has become feminized and eroticized." (Sis, Boom, Bah (Humbug): Cheer Squads Have No Place in the N.F.L)

Dear NFL, with the amount of sexual harassment controversy you've invited in over the years, isn't it about time you change up your marketing plan? Women, and men, deserve better.

And to the NFL cheerleaders: You're beautiful, and wonderfully talented. And you deserve better.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Ugly Women Don't Get Abused

Sexual harassment is alive and well in corporate America. It's truly bad enough that women fear going to work because of the lewd jokes and comments made to them, even after pleas to stop. Add homosexuality to female, and it adds a whole other level to the playing field. Finally, add physical violence, in the workplace, that the boss admits happened but claims the abuser apologized, and thus was squashed.

Yes, Priscilla Agosto was slapped by a coworker, and nothing was done. I can't imagine ANY workplace condoning that kind of violence. But, oh! According to the owner of the real estate office for which she worked, the employee was ordered to apologize. So (s)he faced no repercussions.

Priscilla quit. Finally fed up with the constant harassment. Unfortunately, all too often the victim is forced to leave work, while the abuser goes unpunished. But wait for it:

"Odelia Berlianshik, the owner of the Williamsburg firm, denied the charges - and launched a shocking attack on Agosto's appearance.

"'Who would touch her? She's an ugly girl anyway,' she said of the former secretary. 'She made up a story because she didn't want to work.'"

Yup. And the owner is a woman herself. Not that should make too much difference, because regardless of gender, the owner would want to protect their own self from the lawsuit. But....that's the best you can come up with? You're put on the spot, and instead of taking the allegations seriously, and saying that your company would never condone such actions, you attack the victim? The harassment, yes, is alleged as of the article's writing, but the physical violence was not. How do you allow a work environment like that?

And news flash, Odelia, sexual harassment, like rape, is not about looks. Even if Priscilla was unattractive (which she's not), the way she looks is entirely irrelevant to any lawsuit. Any sexual abuse is about control. It's about proving one's superiority, of asserting one's power over another. It's not about sexual desire. This is one of the biggest fallacies involved in victim blaming.

Take this gem of an article from University of Central Connecticut from a couple of years ago, entitled "Rape Only Hurts if You Fight It:"

"Rapes glorious advantages are not, however, exclusively found from 2,000 year old examples. In actuality rape advantages can very much be seen today. Take ugly women for example. If it weren't for rape, how would they ever know the joys of intercourse with a man who isn't drunk. In a society as plastic-conscious as our own we are really to believe that some man would ever sleep with a girl resembling a wildebeest if he didn't have a few schnapps in him? Of course he wouldn't--at least no self-respecting man would--but there in lies the beauty of rape. No self respecting man would rape in the first place, so ugly women are guaranteed a romp with not only a sober man, but a bad boy too; and we all know how much ladies like the bad boy."

This actually got published. In a college newspaper, and no one on staff was asked to quit. Not even the writer himself. Although the paper has taken the article off its website. Attempting to sweep it all under the rug, but it was already saved for posterity in feminist blogs the world over. Now, including here.

Studies show that men and women are equally likely to victim blame. Although that's my own interpretation. Of all the studies I've read on the subject, I've seen equal amounts come to either conclusion - that men victim blame more than women, or vice versa. The idea is that men victim blame because they don't understand it. They can't empathize, and they don't want to feel grouped in with the rapist. So they blame the victim. Women don't want to feel vulnerable, so they distance themselves from the victim. In the end, the victim always loses.

Either we're telling them they're a slut, and they wanted it, or we're telling them they're ugly and that wouldn't happen.

This isn't about what you wear, how you walk, what you say. This isn't about your sexuality, your race, or your socioeconomic status. This is about control, submission, and patriarchy.

This is about basic, simple, respect.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Smart Like Mommy

Apparently that doesn't exist. No, apparently Mom's aren't smart. Apparently, they're just pretty. Dad's are smart.

Wasn't JC Penny recently forced by the blogosphere to halt production of their "I'm too pretty to do homework" clothing line? Maybe Gymboree should read more. Or hire some women clothing designers, or PR managers.

The comments on the HuffPost article are pretty telling. Maybe those are what JC Penny and Forever21 are reading.

Because they seem to be missing the point. This isn't about clothing. It's not as simple as "don't buy the shirt!" or "babies can't even read anyway!" This is an example of a broader societal problem. It's evidence of a society that values men's brains and a woman's body. There is a MAJOR problem when, after almost a century of women pushing for equality, there is still a big enough market to sell clothing that advocates stupid women (as long as they're pretty).

Apparently, Gymborees excuse was that they also had a "Handsome like Daddy" onesie. Great. Where's the "Smart Like Mommy" one though? In a culture where 25% of women would rather win America's Next Top Model than the Nobel Peace Prize, shirts like these are dangerous. Quite literally, when you consider the rise in eating disorders. Girls as young as 3 are afraid of being fat.

I don't have any children. If I did, I wouldn't buy any shirt that valued a woman's looks over her brains. But that is irrelevant. What I want is for people not to even consider making these gender dichotomizing clothing lines. For women to be seen as intelligent as men are perceived to be.

For women to be valued for their intelligence. For intelligence and "booksmarts" to be as encouraged in women as it is in men.

So the next time you see a baby girl, compliment her on something other than her pretty hair, dress, or shoes. And maybe one day, girls will value themselves for something greater than their looks.

And eventually, maybe society will follow suit.

Over It

I am over rape.I am over rape culture, rape mentality, rape pages on Facebook.

I am over the thousands of people who signed those pages with their real names without shame....

...I am over people demanding their right to rape pages, and calling it freedom of speech or justifying it as a joke.

I am over people not understanding that rape is not a joke and I am over being told I don't have a sense of humor, and women don't have a sense of humor, when most women I know (and I know a lot) are really[...]funny[...]

I am over how long it seems to take anyone to ever respond to rape.

I am over Facebook taking weeks to take down rape pages.

I am over the hundreds of thousands of women in Congo still waiting for the rapes to end and the rapists to be held accountable.

I am over the thousands of women in Bosnia, Burma, Pakistan, South Africa, Guatemala, Sierra Leone, Haiti, Afghanistan, Libya, you name a place, still waiting for justice.

I am over rape happening in broad daylight.

I am over the 207 clinics in Ecuador supported by the government that are capturing, raping, and torturing lesbians to make them straight.

I am over one in three women in the U.S military (Happy Veterans Day!) getting raped by their so-called "comrades."[...]

I am over the fact that after four women came forward with allegations that Herman Cain groped them and grabbed them and humiliated them, he is still running for the President of the United States.

And I'm over CNBC debate host Maria Bartiromo getting booed when she asked him about it. She was booed, not Herman Cain.

Which reminds me, I am so over the students at Penn State who protested the justice system instead of the alleged rapist pedophile of at least 8 boys, or his boss Joe Paterno, who did nothing to protect those children after knowing what was happening to them.

I am over rape victims becoming re-raped when they go public.

I am over starving Somalian women being raped at the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, and I am over women getting raped at Occupy Wall Street and being quiet about it because they were protecting a movement which is fighting to end the pillaging and raping of the economy and the earth, as if the rape of their bodies was something separate.

I am over women still being silent about rape, because they are made to believe it's their fault or they did something to make it happen.

I am over violence against women not being a #1 international priority when one out of three women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime -- the destruction and muting and undermining of women is the destruction of life itself.

No women, no future, duh.

I am over this rape culture where the privileged with political and physical and economic might, take what and who they want, when they want it, as much as they want, any time they want it.

I am over the endless resurrection of the careers of rapists and sexual exploiters -- film directors, world leaders, corporate executives, movie stars, athletes -- while the lives of the women they violated are permanently destroyed, often forcing them to live in social and emotional exile.

I am over the passivity of good men. Where the hell are you?

You live with us, make love with us, father us, befriend us, brother us, get nurtured and mothered and eternally supported by us, so why aren't you standing with us? Why aren't you driven to the point of madness and action by the rape and humiliation of us?

I am over years and years of being over rape.[...]

And getting sick from rape, and depressed from rape, and enraged by rape.

And reading my insanely crowded inbox of rape horror stories every hour of every single day.

I am over being polite about rape. It's been too long now, we have been too understanding.

We need to OCCUPYRAPE in every school, park, radio, TV station, household, office, factory, refugee camp, military base, back room, night club, alleyway, courtroom, UN office.

We need people to truly try and imagine -- once and for all -- what it feels like to have your body invaded, your mind splintered, your soul shattered.

We need to let our rage and our compassion connect us so we can change the paradigm of global rape.

There are approximately one billion women on the planet who have been violated.


The time is now. Prepare for the escalation.

Today it begins, moving toward February 14, 2013, when one billion women will rise to end rape.

Because we are over it.

-Eve Ensler

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

NYC Subway System

NYC Subway platforms are littered with advertisements, some graffiti, and the ubiquitous "if you see something, say something" signage. But recently I noticed a new one, at least one present at the Times Square/Grand Central Station shuttle platform. It said "a crowded subway is no excuse for an inappropriate touch."

I was taken aback at that, not because it's not true (because obviously it is), and not because it should go without saying (because we all know it still doesn't seem to sink in for most people), but because I had never seen anything, anywhere, speak up about sexual assault, and its prevalence in society, and especially the subway system.

It's no big secret that the subway is a dangerous place. It's dark, it's underground, it's home to those who have nowhere else to go, and it's either crowded enough or empty enough to get away with just about anything.

According to one study almost 2/3 of subway riders have experienced sexual harassment and 10% have been assaulted. With 5 million subway riders a day, reporting these offenses seem almost like a waste of time - who's ever going to find the offender?

In an age of camera phones, one woman got it right. Shayne DeJesus took a picture of the man who sexually assaulted her while waiting for a subway and now he's looking at jail time.

What if every woman fought back? What if women didn't have to expect this kind of behavior on their morning or evening commute? What if every woman who faced this kind of abuse got a picture of the perp and handed it over to police? It wouldn't be too difficult to get mugshots in the subway system itself.

How many people would be deterred?

A crowded subway is no excuse for unwanted touch. Shayne DeJesus proved that fighting back, and reporting assault to authorities works.

So holla back ladies. Because sexual assault is never something to be taken lightly, or taken alone.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy #7,000,000,000!

Happy birthday to the 7 billionth person walking Planet Earth.

With over half the world living in poverty, this really isn't a good thing. Compounding this problem is that obviously, population growth tends to be exponential.

It took over 100 years to reach 1 billion. It took only 12 to go from 6 to 7 billion.

Overpopulation is a huge drain on already scarce resources. So how do we curb this without implementing dangerously invasive laws like China's "one child policy?"

With ease. With education. Much of the population surge happens overseas where access to birth control (and knowledge of such things) is severely limited. "The UN estimates that there are 215 million women in the developing world who want to avoid a pregnancy, but who are not using a modern method of birth control" (CS Monitor). Two Hundred Fiften MILLION women. If we can help these women prevent unwanted pregnancy, perhaps we can stave off the 9 million mark (projected 2050 total - and that number keeps growing). Africa alone is expected to triple their population over the next century.

And stopping this excessive growth is as easy as teaching poorer villages about birth control methods, and providing access to these methods. Let's be honest here, even America, and its high teen pregnancy rate could do with more access to this knowledge and material.

It also wouldn't hurt if women were valued as daughters in some countries. Families with a first born daughter are more likely to have more children so as to breed a son (they also are more likely to abort any future possible daughters but that's irrelevant to population control).

Even with our current economic crisis, curbing this population surge needs to be more of a priority. More people drains the planet, including economically.

Plus, otherwise, we're looking at having to invade another planet (quite literally Earth cannot withstand too many billion people), and that will certainly be more costly than handing out a few condoms here or there.

So Happy Birthday to baby number 7 Billion. Hopefully you'll be the last billion milestone.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Double Standards

I don't believe in double standards. Not in any situation (as far as I can think of anyway). I don't think men should be rewarded when their number of sexual partners rises while women are chastised and demeaned.

Similarly, I don't believe women should stand up against victim blaming when a man murders his wife and claims abuse but stand silent when a woman does the same.

Recently, a man in Westchester who was apparently going through a divorce beat his wife to death, then shot his two kids and himself. Allegations of abuse from both sides flew. The man's friends claimed she was verbally abusive, and worked to turn their children against him. The woman's family claimed she had expressed fear of her husband, and wanted him out.

The feminist issue arose when one of Sam Friedlander (the murderer)'s friends told a reporter that if Friedlander had shot only his wife, not the children, "I would have baked him a cake with a file in it [to help him escape from prison]." People protested against the victim blaming. No matter what abuse he may have endured, they say, nothing justifies murder.

I agree. Especially when they're already going through a divorce. He was in the middle of getting out of this marriage when he "snapped." But where were these protesters when Barbara Sheehan shot her husband eleven times and argued self defense at her trial?

Why weren't people protesting that victim blaming? She shot and killed her husband while he was shaving in the bathroom, although allegedly, he had threatened to kill her with a gun he owned. She claimed years of abuse led her to this inevitable and irreversible decision.

Where is the argument against victim blaming there? Sheehan was acquitted of the murder charge because the battered wife case. The jury believed it to be the victim's fault that he died of unnatural causes. But if Friedlander hadn't killed his children or himself, no jury would acquit him. Because domestic violence against men just isn't accepted.

But it's real. Whether or not Friedlander or Sheehan were victims of years of domestic violence, I don't know. I'm not sure that anyone but the families themselves can really know. But clearly, domestic violence knows no boundaries. No gender, cultural, racial, class boundaries. No one is exempt from the possibility.

To deny men the right to a life free from violence while allowing a battered wife argument to hold sway in court is gender discrimination. It favors women, but it is still a double standard, and gender equality requires eradication of such policies.

Yes, it is victim blaming to say that someone caused their own murder. Should that stance, that belief, change with the gender of the victim?

Absolutely not.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Political Campaigns

Nicholas Kristof has been instrumental in raising awareness of the plight of women all over the world, and how being disallowed access to education and the workforce is leading to the global poverty problem we see today. Because even though women make up more than half of the world's population, we are still treated as a submissive minority group.

The United States has a maternal mortality rate of 8 per 100,000 births. Sounds low, but when compared to other countries of equal development, it is at the high end. Countries like Croatia, Norway, Singapore and Kuwait have lower rates than that. Theories as to why are based on our need to do things quickly. In such a fast paced, impatient society, labor is often induced - so childbirth happens before the body wants it. C-Sections are a common way of not only scheduling the birthday, but instead of being a last resort, it is presented as a viable alternative to birthing. A c-section, like any surgery is dangerous, with the possiblity of complications, and therefore, death.

But you won't hear about that in the news. Or in the presidential campaigns. Because women's issues are ignored. Even in this time of healthcare reform, healthcare as it relates to women is nowhere to be found. Democrats and Republicans both want to change the way the country accesses doctors and medicine, yet neither talks about how that access will affect the health and well-being on women, who are disproportionately afflicted by both physical and mental illnesses.

Presidential candidates might talk of poverty abroad, yet they don't address the probability that increased education geared toward women will help lower birthing rates and increase productivity, nor how they might go about doing that.

The Violence Against Women Act is supposed to help prevent sexual and domestic abuse and stalking, to help convict those who commit such crimes, and to provide services to the victims. Yet the rate of all these crimes is still way too high, and conviction rates are far too low. But no one addresses this failure. Creating a law doesn't do anything, unless it is enforced. While this Act was a great leap forward in raising awareness, it has done virtually nothing more since its creation.

What presidential candidate will come forward and stand up for the rights and needs of women? Who will be the voice for the women who suffer every day at the hands of a hypermasculinized congress?

I wrote a letter to every 2012 presidential campaign candidate I could find asking each of them these questions. Maybe one of them will hold the answers.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Obligatory Halloween Post

I went shopping for a halloween costume two nights ago because this year I just wasn't creative enough to make one out of things I already owned. And I remembered all over again why I hate this holiday.

The costumes are obviously divided into females' and males' to make it easier to find what you're looking for. I can understand that certainly. The only problem is the difference in actual costume.

For example, the first place I went to had a Captain America costume - one each for men and women. Yet they were very, very different costumes. The men's Captain America, of course, looked like Captain America (shocking!). The woman's version? A short skirt with a low cut top and knee high red boots (with heels!). The fireman's costumes? Men had an actual uniform, and in the picture, he was pouring a pitcher of beer. Woman's had again a short skirt with unbuttoned top and a come hither look. We don't like beer, of course, and we serve only to satisfy men's needs, not to fight fires.

Halloween is a joke. When did it become like this? When did it become okay for such obvious objectification? When did women stop respecting themselves? And why can't I get a costume, made for women (so as to fit a women's body), that actually has a bottom that covers my ass, and a top that covers my breasts? Why do I need to parade around half naked in freezing cold weather on this one random day? No thank you.

Another strange part was there seemed to be no unisex area. The beer bong and beer bottle were under mens, even though they could clearly fit on either gender. Even the Angry Bird (which was the costume I originally wanted) was under the men's section! I spent at least two hours at two different stores trying to find something to fit my body without conforming to society's standard of an appropriate dress for women on halloween.

it covers my body, and is a perfect representation of the character, yet somehow the title includes "flirty." Because you can't sell a costume without marketing the attraction to the opposite sex!

If anyone wore a bathing suit with fish nets out in public on any day except halloween weekend, they'd be labeled a slut/whore/dirty by anyone they came across. They'd be shunned by anyone of character and pounced on by desperate men looking for sex. It's inappropriate. Yes, halloween is about costumes, but it is not about marketing your body.

It's about creativity. It's about showing your character and your likes and who you are, because, really, what you wear on halloween speaks volumes about your personality. Do you conform, and market your body? Or do you show off your creativity, your likes in movies or tv shows, or games? Do you dress up as the "slutty witch" or the hot dog? Are you an attention seeking typical female, or are you a comic? Will you be the flirty nurse, or the doctor? (because nurse costumes don't exist for men, and i didn't see any doctor costumes for women)

And what are we telling young people about what women and men are all about? Do we want our kids to want to wear these short dresses and low cut shirts? Do we want young children to see those they look up to wearing such revealing outfits? Do we want them to aspire to be that?

I admit I do conform sometimes. It's hard not to. So I understand. I understand that when everyone around you is dressed the way they are, it's difficult to be the one to stand out in the duck costume (another one i almost went for). But I hope one day we can be stronger. I hope one day we can rise up this society created and ruled by men. I hope one day we can stop catering to their desires, and instead follow our one.

Halloween is a step back every year.

Maybe one day we'll break the cycle.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Awareness Month

October is...

Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Somehow that seems to slip under the radar with all the hubaloo surrounding Breast Cancer. Breast Cancer affects 1 in 8 women. Domestic Violence affects 1 in 4. That's not to say one is more important than the other, but that both are incredibly pervasive. But only one gets the media's attention.

We have come incredibly far in raising awareness regarding domestic violence. In taking claims seriously, and in bringing justice to those who commit these emotionally and physically scarring acts. But there is clearly still so far to go.

I spent a couple of hours today manning a table for the Women's Center I volunteer for at a festival. I was amazed at how many people came forward with their stories of abuse, including one who's mother had used our shelter. I was grateful for the thanks I received for helping. I was even more grateful to the people who asked about donations and how to help out.

We have come a long way. But as long as people continue to have those stories, then there is still a long way to go. One woman listened politely to what our center offers, and told us luckily she didn't need any information on it. Yes, that is wonderful that she is in a good relationship. But she had two daughters with her. They need to know about it.

I'm always wary when children come up to the table and want an awareness ribbon. I'm afraid the parents will shoo them away, that I'll have to explain what domestic violence is, and I don't want to ruin their innocence. But when I told two young girls that the purple ribbon was not for cancer, but for domestic violence, which is a very pressing problem just like cancer, they nodded in understanding. That's when their mother told me how they sponsor a family in the shelter every year.

When I started dating, my mother gave me a talk on relationship abuse. I wrote it off at the time, but looking back I am so thankful that I have the kind of parent who understands abuse and its disregard for race, social class, intelligence, and culture. I wonder how many parents talk with their kids about what is acceptable in any relationship? We can barely get conversations on sex going - I doubt there's too much talk of violence.

There are bracelets, shirts, posters, bumper stickers, whatever, everywhere crying to "save the ta-ta's" and put an end to breast cancer. I'd like us to take it one step further. I don't just love boobs, I love the whole woman. And I'd like to save all of them from needless pain and suffering.

Whether it's from cancer, or domestic violence.

October is Breast Cancer and Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Let's work to save women.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Social Media

Anytime someone tries to downplay the pervasiveness of misogynistic thoughts and beliefs that plague American society, just point them to social media. Facebook, twitter, and blogging have given the masses places to voice their every opinion. Including opinions that promote the violent crimes of sexual and domestic assault.

Facebook has multiple pages geared towards such things. Pages that spew hatred towards women, and invite rape and violence. Pages like earlier mentioned "Riding your Girlfriend Softly Cause you Don't Want to Wake Her Up," "Feeling bad after hitting your mom cause you thought it was your girlfriend," and "What's easier than raping a girl? Raping a dead girl."

Some choice comments:

Hayden Noel: Its not rape if they dont say no ;)
Ian Wood: It's not rape if it's a muffled "no" !!
Tobi Remnant: Just gag them so they can't say no.
Jamie Do-rag: i raped my girlfriend. She wasnt asleep or anything. Just refused to make me a sandwich

Actual admissions of committing a violent crime on facebook, and the social media giant turns a blind eye. And then there's twitter:

The Funny Sexist. This guy is really just hilarious.
"4 out of 5 women suffer domestic abuse during their life time. That means only 20% of women know when to speak. #YouNeedToShutUp"

ProSexTips: The main difference between computers and women is you can't rape your computer when its in sleep mode.

LondonKeyes: Rape! It's really just surprise sex :)

It's everywhere. Yes, these people are "joking," and no I don't honestly believe they believe what they're saying. But I fail to see the humor in advocating a violent crime which affects 25% of college aged women. Why does Facebook believe that a page where people claim they have raped their girlfriends (some even say by drugging them) is just offensive humor, instead of the hate filled illegal activity that it is?

How can people still believe that a feminist movement is unnecessary when the internet is filled with proof of the gender imbalance? For as along as people talk about raping and hitting women without thought to the profound effect these crimes have on society, then the feminist movement is not over.

The real issue is not each individual group, person, comment, or tweet.

But why aren't more people outraged by this?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Feminists and Police

For some reason, feminism and hatred for the police seem to go together like feminism and being pro choice does. If you don't agree with the latter, you can't possibly be the former. Because apparently, cops don't care about women's issues. They don't arrive quickly enough when you complain about a man masturbating on a subway platform opposite of you. They believe in rape myths. They brutally attack "peaceful female protestors." Is there anything cops get right with women?

Yes. Everything. As a whole, the police are there to help people. To ensure public safety. Every time someone calls the police, it is dealt with to the best of their ability. It is dealt with as swiftly as possible. Every domestic violence call that comes in, they show up. Just recently, a police officer was killed when he arrived at such a call. The man, still in his rage, pushed the cop over the stairwell, and he died.

He isn't alone. The police put their lives on the line every day, and often it is for the safety of women. I've been with a detective working on a sexual assault case. A case of date rape, while the victim was in the hospital. I know how seriously these accusations are taken.

And I have seen first hand how police treat stalking. While I was a college student, I started receiving phone calls from a restricted number at all hours of the night. 2am, 4am, 5am. Always the same, no answer until I hung up. They'd come every night for a couple of weeks, then stop for a couple of weeks. For months this went on. After a few calls, I threatened to call the police, but never followed through.

I felt the same way as most feminists apparently do. What were the police gonna do? They'd probably think I was overreacting and write it all off.

Until one night I heard heavy breathing on the other side. I didn't know who they were, how they got my number, or if they knew who I was, where I lived. I freaked out. And I went to the police.

To my surprise, they were amazingly helpful. The officer assigned to my case assured me that is was a case of harassment, and that it was illegal. He assured me I had done the right thing in coming to him. He kept in contact me with me throughout the investigation, and eventually found out who he was, and even (I still don't quite know how), how he had gotten my number. And he put out a warrant for his arrest.

I couldn't be more grateful for that cop, or for the entire police department.

To denounce an entire department because of a few perceived shortcomings, or a few bad cops, or, even more common, because of a few bad headlines, is as bad any racist, who denounces an entire people for the headlines of a few bad apples.

I am a feminist. And I love, respect, and appreciate, the police.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

7 Year Old Girl Repeatedly Sexually Assaulted in School

I hope the headline is enough. Her parents are suing the school for lack of supervision as well as negligence, in their failure to prevent these attacks. AttackS. That's plural.

It started when the boy kissed her. Teachers were informed. Then he put his hand down her pants in class. Teachers were informed. Then he continued to put his hands in her pants in hallways. Again, the school was informed. Until finally the parents were forced to sue.

The two kids were never separated - they were continually put in the same classes despite the allegations. There is no mention of whether the boy was ever even punished. The school's defense?

The parents never requested separation.

Yup. That's right. The school apparently saw no reason to separate a boy from the girl he was molesting because the parents didn't specifically ask for it. When you're that young, it really shouldn't be that difficult to put two kids in separate classes all day. And whether requested or not, there is no reason to not do that. That's problem number 1.

The defense goes on to say that on one of the days that the girl complained to her mother of an unwanted touching, that a teacher saw the girl laughing with the boy near the bathroom. Now, I don't know what happened. I do, however, know what it's like to be young. How difficult it is to be the victim of bullying. And how hard it is to be the outcast. It is undoubtedly believable that she may have had to endure the presence of this male in order to avoid being cast out. Laughter is not a sign of compliance. Problem number 2.

Their third argument is that the hallway in which the alleged touching took place was frequented by many students and faculty. I guess this is their attempt to argue that lack of supervision was not a factor. Ya know, in case the argument that it never happened doesn't pan out. I've always been a firm believer that a defense should pick a story and stick to it. Apparently no one else is. Either it didn't happen, or it happened despite supervision.

I believe both are false. I don't know how a seven year old child could make up these stories. Yes, there are many cases of sexual abuse on children which turns out to be false because of false victim statements. Yes, children are easily coerced into saying whatever the authorities want them to say. But this girl came home to her mother and told her each of the incidents as they happened. Spread out over 2 years. Law authorities were never told in the hopes the school would help prevent such incidents.

I was recently speaking with someone I know whose child is being bullied. The kid has taken to fighting back. The mother had spoken with the school on various occasions but they failed to stop the bullying, and yes, the kid finally took matters into his own hands, at which point the mother was called in and chastised. She was appalled.

When you drop your child off at school for 8 hours a day, you are putting the child in the care of the school authorities. They are expected to protect your kid from any harm. Their job is not just to educate them, but to keep them safe.

Especially safe from any sort of sexual touching. Especially after repeated complaints. This poor girl is clearly already traumatized, as evidenced by her seeking comfort and solace from her mother on so many occasions. And now, is quite possibly, doubly so with the suit going to trial (as most victims are when the case is put in the spotlight).

Also importantly, where is this boy's mother? Or father for that matter? Were they ever notified of these events? Did they ever punish him for it? Did they ever teach him respect for women? Did he exhibit any misogynistic characteristics prior, traits they may have ignored, may have written off as "boys being boys?"

Why a seven year old child would even need to be taught respect for any female is a societal problem worth addressing.

Worth addressing in a school system that doesn't respect the children they're paid to protect. Everything needs to be overthrown and done over.

People just need to be taught respect.

Father's lawsuit: White Plains school failed to protect girl, 7, from unwanted touching

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Mental Illness

Tomorrow is the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and the failed attack on the Capitol Building. Every newspaper or magazine has had pages upon pages of tributes to the survivors and those lost. To the Heroes - civilians, PAPD, FDNY, NYPD...

2,997 people died that day, but thousands more survived. Of those, few, if any, were left unscathed.

Yesterday's New York Post had an article on Howard Lutnik, the CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald, who would have died with 658 of his employees, had he not been taking his son to his first day of kindergarten. The article is on his intense Survivor's Guilt - essentially, on his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, although they never called it that. His recurrent nightmares. He still can't talk about that day without crying.

But, according to the Post, "the notoriously tough Lutnick never sought help from a therapist or medication, relying instead on friends and family to get through the toughest days."

I take huge offense at the comment. It implies that seeking help from either a therapist or from medication is a sign of weakness. The CEO was too "tough" to to seek help. Well, Mark DeCambre and Bob Fredericks (the journalists who wrote this particular article), I don't think it's a matter of strength to get through a mental illness. Thousands of people, I'm sure, sought help for their PTSD after the attacks. And no one who made it out of those buildings is weak.

PTSD is a very real illness, just like depression is, just like cancer is. And all three of those can be fatal. Seeking help can save lives. If Howard Lutnick can get through his pain with the help of family and friends, well more power to him (although by the sounds of the article, it really doesn't sound like he has been able to). I'm happy for anyone that can fight a mental illness, diagnosed or not.

People die every day from suicide. People who didn't have to die. Who, had they sought help, maybe would have never felt so hopeless. Insinuating that seeking help, that seeing a therapist, or that taking medications, is a sign of weakness, or that fighting depression on your own is a sign of strength, is a misconception that can prove fatal for many.

The CEO of a company that lost 658 employees, including some family members, ten years ago tomorrow is undoubtedly tough. But not seeking help is not evidence of his toughness.

I believe seeking help is a sign of self-awareness. And, more importantly, it's a sign of strength.

I hope that Howard Lutnick, and everyone, can someday recover from the events of that tragic day 10 years ago. God Bless America.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Definition of Rape

"Rape," as defined by Mirriam-Webster dictionary:

1: an act or instance of robbing or despoiling or carrying away a person by force
2: unlawful sexual activity and usually sexual intercourse carried out forcibly or under threat of injury against the will usually of a female or with a person who is beneath a certain age or incapable of valid consent — compare sexual assault, statutory rape
3: an outrageous violation

Definition of "incapable of valid consent" (according to New York State Law):

A person is deemed incapable of consent when he or she is:
(a) less than seventeen years old; or
(b) mentally disabled; or
(c) mentally incapacitated; or
(d) physically helpless; or ... (paragraphs of material irrelevant to this post)

Being intoxicated to the point of black out is undoubtedly mentally incapacitated. If it wasn't, drunk driving wouldn't be such an issue. Even beyond that, being that drunk also renders one physically helpless.

So why is that, while the jurors on the infamous Rape Cops Case all apparently agreed that "the accuser may have consented to sex, then blacked out about it" (New York Post) did they find the defendant not guilty? Videos, testimonies on both sides, all the evidence pointed to the accuser being drunk to the point of being ill, and definitely to the point of black out.

Yet she was mentally and physically capable of lawful consent? Whether she begged Moreno to do it, or whether Moreno physically forced himself on her - either way, with the accuser in the state that she was, could not have consented. Any sexual contact, therefore, in unlawful.

And if they had sex, as the jurors believe they did, then he raped her.

Maybe the jury of her peers should have received an education prior to the trial.

Maybe everyone should.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Good Job, France...

(Thanks to Kerry for bringing this to my attention)

Man Ordered to Pay Ex-Wife $14,000 over lack of sex

I think one commenter on the article pretty much sums up my thoughts:

Cailin rua
"...nobody should be forced or coerced into having sex with anyone else, and [feminists] would disagree with this judgment based on the likelihood of it being used to over-ride consent in French marriages."

I would hope everyone would disagree with this ruling, not just feminists. I'm sure, however, that there are plenty of people in France who are rejoicing at the possible repercussions of this, including taking their spouses to court to force more sex.

Or rather, to rape them.


I recently had the displeasure of viewing a commercial for the discount clothing store Marshall's, where a woman drives a trailer filled with Marshall's clothing looking for women to advertise to.

No big so far.

However, in this particular commercial, the trailer stops at an art viewing. It shows three (?) women looking at an abstract painting (one that I thought was actually pretty cool) with utter confusion. Their facial expressions can even be seen as disgusted. What is this thing and why is it art? they seem to be saying. Far too advanced for a silly ignorant woman to understand.

But wait! Here comes the Marshall's Lady! She understands women, and saves them from such an inappropriate place for us. Who needs intellectual stimulation when you have a trailer filled with fashionable clothes?

Oddly I was thinking about shampoo commercials earlier, and how for the most part, they only show shiny, healthy hair. They show only exactly what the advertised product does. I wish more commercials would do that. Fashionable clothes at a discounted price sounds great. Advertising them at the expense of women....not so great.

I wonder if they teach misogyny in advertising classes. Or if the people who go into advertising just don't realize what they're promoting.

It's amazing how people who make a career out of visionary art can be so blind.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Dress Like a Slut

To avoid rape or sexual assault in general, women shouldn't wear provocative clothing, such as tight, low-cut shirts, or miniskirts. This will help prevent men's irresistable urge to procreate, and thus reduce rape stats.
Unfortunately for those who try to claim such things, eg the Toronto cop who spurred the SlutWalk, the statistics say otherwise.

A Federal Commission on Crime of Violence Study found that only 4.4% of all reported rapes involved provocative behavior on the part of the victim. In murder cases 22% involved such behavior (as simple as a glance).

Most convicted rapists do not remember what their victims were wearing.

Most sexual assault victims are wearing regular clothes like blue jeans or pajamas when they are assaulted, not provocative clothing.

The most common outfit of rape victims is jeans and a t-shirt or sweatshirt. It is true that some articles of clothing are easier to remove than others, but there is no data to suggest that a potential victim is at greater risk because of how she is dressed.
-Things That Cause Rape

Facebook and Consent

I hope I don't need to write anything to explain why this bothers me. I don't care if it's supposed to be a joke. Saying "Who cares as long as you get some" to a simple comment about consent is atrocious. Consent is not a joke, and cannot be joked about since its gravity is understood by the masses. Maybe when society learns the prevalence of rape, and the disastrous effects the crime has on its victims, maybe then sexual assault, and consent, can enter such immature vernacular. Maybe. (Even then, it will be tasteless)

Where are these kids' mothers? Or any women in their lives who can steer them right? Where is Mark Zuckerberg, who claims to prohibit any hate-fueled or pro-violence groups? This promotes rape - a serious crime of assault. Even as a joke, it is inappropriate at best.

So "who cares as long as you get some"?

I do. And so should you.

Monday, July 25, 2011

DSK (again)

Dominique Strauss-Kahn is back in the news.

He left the news because the media slandered the accuser, hotel maid Nafissatou Diallo, calling her a prostitute, and discrediting her by bringing up past times where she lied in completely irrelevant situations.

It’s interesting that when the two New York City cops were on trial for raping a girl who was too incapacitated to speak or stand, their previous transgressions, and complaints against them were deemed irrelevant to the case and never brought up in court. Their harassment of other females apparently had nothing to do with their harassment of the accuser.

Yet when this woman accuses the future president of France, her past is questioned. Her past is used to devalue her and her claims. Her character is questioned and used to throw out charges, used to never bring the issue to court, to never even attempt justice for the victim. The complaints against the cops didn’t even make it to the newspapers until after they were acquitted. Am I the only one confused as to why the media refused to dig up any dirt on the cops, but were more than happy to learn the entire history of Diallo, and use it against her?

Because, and only because, she was the (alleged) victim of a sexual assault. How many men who have been robbed, or the victim of a physical assault, or whose house has been burglarized have had to undergo such interrogation of their past? Shouldn’t the focus be on the accused? Or at least on evidence pertaining to the case?

It’s time that victims of sexual assault be given the same rights as victims as every other crime. As if being stripped naked and violated both physically and emotionally isn’t a bad enough experience, the victim also needs to be victimized by the media and the court. The justice system that was originally put in place to protect America’s citizens is the same system that vilifies these women.

Coming forward is hard enough. Even though this man is innocent until proven guilty, let’s also not make her guilty until proven innocent. Let the evidence of the case speak, not her past, or his fame.

And hopefully justice (for once) may prevail.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Harry Potter

I’ve read Harry Potter VII only once. I’m embarrassed to admit that. I should be more embarrassed to admit that I’ve read the previous six at least 30 times (combined total). I’m aware, as any good Harry Potter fan should be, that J.K. Rowling is a woman, who was told by her publishers to use her initials so no one would know she’s female. Whether she would have the same ridiculous fan base had she used her real name, well I guess we’ll never know.

Anyway, I recently read a blogpost that touted Rowling as a great feminist, promoting quality female role models, and breaking stereotypes. While it’s true that in many movies geared towards younger crowds (eg Disney…) have few female leads, and those females are subordinate to males, and tend to speak less than their male counterparts, I’m not sure how much Rowling has really empowered women.

The main character is male. Obviously. The two other leads are a male and a female – Ron and Hermione. Okay, so there’s a female sidekick. What else is new in movies? Not quite empowering. Yes, she’s smart, top of her class. AND she’s a minority – having been born to non-magical parents. But her intelligence is her top strength, and she’s arrogant about it. She’s not smart, she’s a know-it-all. She struggles with her unspoken feelings for Ron. Feelings that are finally returned only when Ron sees her in her dress and all made up for the ball. She cries when she talks about missing her parents. I’m lost as to what stereotypes she’s breaking through here…

Mrs. Weasley was the next example. Oh yes, the endearing stay-at-home mother who constantly worries about her family while taking care of the kids (and Hermione and Harry), her husband, and doing the chores around the house. Now THAT’S an empowering idol!

Her daughter, Ginny. Supposedly she’s a feminist power girl. She’s more or less a minor role, first acting as the girl smitten over Harry, the celebrity. He wants nothing to do with her, and she follows him like a puppy dog. Then she gets over him and dates 3 (?) different guys, much to her protective older brother (Ron)’s dismay. Until finally Harry decides he likes her, and lo and behold, she comes running back to him, perhaps having waited all that time for him to come around. Seriously? This is who girls should be looking up to? And soon after, they break up because Harry has a dangerous mission and doesn’t want her to risk her life helping out. Was Kirsten Dunst in SpiderMan a role model also?

I’m terribly confused as to which female character is breaking ANY gender stereotype in this novel/movie franchise. Oh, I know! The evil ones. Finally! A novel with females hanging right with the men as the bad guys! It’s not just the men who can dominate the role of killer, torturer, BTK-style terrorism. I was worried we’d always be oppressed, but finally, we’ve broken boundaries.

Then again, when I was a high school freshman I gave a presentation on how on the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer (with which I was also unhealthily obsessed) also did nothing to end negative female stereotypes, and, at times, outright reinforced them. Maybe it’ll take a little more than female leads and costars to convince me that women are breaking boundaries.

The women I look up to are those in my family. My mother, and my sisters are more amazing than any portrayal of any woman I’ve seen on TV or movies, or have read of in books. Who are strong while loving. Empathetic but stern. Smart but not arrogant. Hardworking but always there when I need them. While I know how lucky I am to have them, they are certainly not alone in those traits. Plenty of women worldwide are worthy of our praise and adulation. I don’t need Hermione, Molly Weasley, or Ginny to tell me what to be, and neither does anyone else.

Maybe it’s time everyone started looking at the women around them for role models, because clearly, as much as we want them to, movies and books just aren’t cutting it.

Monday, July 4, 2011


The FCC claims not to have any list of words or phrases that cannot be said on television or radio. Supposedly it’s all in context. And, of course, there are different guidelines set for daytime TV versus shows that air between 10PM and 6AM.
The context is important, as fleeting exclamations have been deemed ok while using those same exclamations as slurs is not. So while the word “ass” is acceptable, “asshole” is not. Oddly, also, “dammit” is okay, but “God dammit” is not.

In fact, the only things you’ll ever hear people being called on TV are the harmless – jerk, dork, etc. and derogatory terms reserved for females – slut, bitch, and I actually heard the word whore this morning (actually, admittedly, it was “whore-y”). You won’t hear someone being called a “dick” (which is what I believe to be the male equivalent of bitch). The only things our young, innocent, and impressionable kids are allowed to hear are words that we can call the female half of the species. Females, and a donkey.

Is it any surprise that bitch is the original non-curse curse? That the men who rule this society (and I’m sure the FCC itself) only allow “bitch” and prevent dick, or asshole – anything that isn’t distinctly female in origin?

Allowing this term to slide on daytime television not only tells kids that it is okay to use this term (when it is decidedly not), but it also encourages scripted shows to use it more frequently. Need a derogatory term but don’t want anything bleeped out? Gotta go for bitch.

I don’t believe in censorship in the first place. And while that belief is based on a variety of different things, one of which is the subjective way someone decides what is and isn’t acceptable language. How they came to decide asshole is completely unacceptable, yet bitch, slut, and whore, are totally fine…well I’d love to hear the logic behind that one.

Do we, as a society, turn a blind ear to these verbal assaults on women?

It’s impressive that even when talking about banning derogatory terms, that women still come out on bottom. Even in censorship, females are the forgotten people.

I am not a bitch, a slut, or whore-y, any more than I am a d*ck, a motherf*cker, an assh*le, or a piece of sh*t. Even if I can say the former in public without reprimand.

It’s still offensive language.

I Am Offended.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Missing Girl

A young 20 year old woman from an affluent town in Westchester, NY went missing almost a week ago at her college in Indiana. Lauren Spierer was last seen alone and barefoot. She had lost her shoes, wallet and cell phone somewhere along her travels. Undoubtedly there is someone else involved - someone who knows where she is, and what's happened to her. With a $150,000 reward on her head, that someone isn't coming forward because he or she is the cause.

Was she killed? Unfortunately, probably.

Everyone has said what a heartbreaking story it is. How reminiscent it is of Natalee Holloway. While nobody, as far as I've seen, as outwardly blamed her, there are still the comments:

This is why women shouldn't get drunk.

Why women should be escorted home by someone they trust.

Why women shouldn't be out after dark.

Tragedy like this happens when women don't take care of themselves.


Tragedy like this happens when some sociopath decides he wants to prey on an innocent young beautiful girl. It happens when people forget to respect each other. It happens when people DO something like this.

It does NOT happen because someone had it done TO them.

Keep the Spierer family in your thoughts, prayers, hearts. Nobody, no family, should ever have to go through such a thing.

Monday, May 16, 2011


International Monetary Fund Cheif Remains Jailed in NYC Sex Assault Case

Hey Dom,

Having all the money in the world doesn't mean every woman you come across is gonna want you. And it certainly doesn't mean that any woman you come across is yours to do with as you please.

Too often having money (or fame) equals a perceived sense of power and entitlement. Don Vito, Ben Roethlisberger, Brett Favre, Steven Seagal, Noel Fisher ("Detail"), Kobe Bryan, Fat Joe, Basshunter, Remy Gonzalez, and now the IMF chief, are just some of the celebrities who have been accused (not all have been convicted) of sexual assault.

Studies have shown that athletes - both professional and college - have a greater rate of acquittal in sex assault cases than average. Some victims are pressured to drop charges to avoid ruining the athlete's career. Other times, juries are tempted to rule in favor of the famous for the same reason.

I'd imagine having the money to hire a great lawyer probably doesn't hurt the acquittal rate.

Money can't buy happiness. But it can and does buy power.

The famous need to learn to harness this sway and use it for the betterment of society. Women are not here to dance around half naked in your rap videos, or to take care of your sexual needs while you're touring the country or the world.

Isn't having money and fame enough?

Do something for the less fortunate. Don't do it to them.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Sweetie in the Workplace

I hate being called sweetie. By anyone. Ever. Even my boyfriend doesn’t really call me that. I find it to be condescending in any context, even when used by another female. A girl I used to work with, who was just 2 years my senior used to use the term, and even at one point called me a baby (because of my age). I politely informed her that I was neither a baby nor her sweetie.

But what’s even more patronizing is being called sweetie by a man. And worse, during a fight. Even worse is in the workplace. But what takes the cake is a man using the term during a fight in the workplace.

As was apparently the case during Celebrity Apprentice. Star Jones allegedly called Meatloaf out on the term “Sweetie,” and the implications the word carries. I’ll fully admit this is all hearsay, as I heard the story and the clip on the radio yesterday morning, but the point is worth mentioning. Calling a woman by any term of endearment in the workplace (or really anywhere) is belittling. It’s an act of superiority. It’s a term notoriously used to infer innocence, youth, and, essentially, inexperience. And it’s entirely inappropriate.

Give me ONE pet name people call men on a regular basis. Men they’ve never met before. Men they work with, men they work for, men who work for them. It’s always “sir” or it’s nothing at all. There is no male equivalent of “sweetie.”

Trump apparently says to Star that she must have been called worse things than “sweetie” over the years. Most people have. That doesn’t make the word any less demeaning. It just makes Donald Trump that much more of a patronizing misogynistic…you finish that one.

And Meatloaf? You lost my respect too.

I never thought I’d agree with Star Jones. But sweetie, you’re damn right.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Realism vs Idealism

If I walked into the middle of an Al-qaeda terrorist camp with a mini skirt and high heels preaching Catholicism, chances are I'd be killed before I could even get to the preaching part.

I don't even need to go that far. Back when Road Rules was still on the air, one season brought the 6 strangers to Morocco. While there, one girl wore short shorts and a tank top to a mission, and was pelted with stones by the country's natives. It's inappropriate for women to wear such revealing outfits in that culture.

In those cultures, one might expect such treatment, and thus alter they way one dresses and/or acts. We change our behavior based on our faith in the people around us. Should we then, here in America, expect men to be ravenously sexual animals, and thus never consider wearing revealing clothing?

There's a whole of host of problems with that comparison. Some people, like the Toronto cop, seem to believe that rape is about sexual gratification, and an uncontrollable urge of men to descend on women like hawks. It's not. Rape is almost always about control. It's not about a man becoming so turned on by a woman's dress or actions that he simply cannot keep his hands off his date, but about a man believing it is his right to do with woman as he wants.

Has anyone ever done a research study on the outfits rape victims were wearing at the time of their assault? I'm willing to be that a majority of them were not in anything abnormally provocative. I bet a good amount of them were even in jeans. No matter what a woman wears, she is in danger of being sexually assaulted. And one outfit does not increase the risk over another.

It does however, increase victim blaming. In a study I did for a Psychology Research class in college, I asked participants to read one of 4 vignettes describing a sexual assault. The victim was either dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt or a short black dress, and was either raped by a stranger on her way home from a party, or by a friend whose house she had gone back to.

Interestingly enough there was no statistically significant difference in victim blaming between males and females. There was however, a difference in blame placement when given the change of outfit. In the date rape scenario, the girl is going home with the guy. Yet, if she does so in jeans and a sweatshirt, the man is a rapist. If she does so in a dress, the woman is an idiot.

I just don't get it. I will not expect to get raped just by walking out of my house in a skirt. I will not let people scare me into being fearful of men. If we want to change the world, it will not happen by telling women to dress conservatively. It will not happen by calling women sluts if they choose to do otherwise. It will not happen if we continue to lay blame on everyone and everything involved in an assault EXCEPT the man committing it.

If all those people who put so much energy into telling women how to dress and act, put that same energy into telling men how to respect women, maybe the former tactic wouldn't have to be employed.

Met a Slut Today? Don't Assault Her.

Met a slut today? Don't assault her

(thank you to my sister Laur for bringing this to my attention)

SlutWalking gets rolling after cop's loose talk about provocative clothing

Lecture to Toronto students ignites protests across Canada and US at culture of blaming rape victims
by Ed Pilkington

When a police officer from Toronto went on a routine visit to Osgoode Hall Law School to advise the students on personal safety, little did he know that he would unwittingly inspire a movement that has caught fire across Canada and the US.

"You know, I think we're beating around the bush here," Michael Sanguinetti began, blandly enough, as he addressed the 10 students who turned up for the pep talk. Then he said: "I've been told I'm not supposed to say this – however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised."

Fast forward three months from Sanguinetti's unfortunate remarks, and a movement that was born in riposte to his loose talk has now gone international. "SlutWalking" is attracting thousands of people to take to the streets to put an end to what they believe is a culture in which it is considered acceptable to blame the victim.

Some 2,351 people have signed up via Facebook to attend a SlutWalk through Boston on Saturday, when they will chant "Yes means yes, no means no," and "Hey hey, ho ho, patriarchy has to go."

Further SlutWalks are planned in the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.

And that's before you get to Argentina, Australia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden and the UK.

Had it been under any other circumstance, Sanguinetti might have been quite proud of his global impact. In the circumstances, facing internal discipline by the Toronto police, he has grovelled profusely.

"I am embarrassed by the comment I made and it shall not be repeated," he said.

But there is no holding back the SlutWalkers now. Word spread like wildfire through Facebook and Twitter, and anger about the comments began to coalesce around the idea of taking to the streets in protest. The SlutWalk was born. The first march was held in Toronto itself last month. Organisers had expected about 100 people to turn out, and were astonished when almost 3,000 people did so.

The participants, both female and male, carried placards saying "Met a slut today? Don't assault her," "Sluts pay taxes" and "We're here, we're sluts, get used to it."

Another sign at the rally read: "It was Christmas Day. I was 14 and raped in a stairwell wearing snowshoes and layers. Did I deserve it too?"

Some women attended the protest wearing jeans and T-shirts, while others took the mission of reclaiming the word "slut" – one of the stated objectives of the movement – more literally and turned out in overtly provocative fishnets and stilettos. But they were all united by the same belief: that rape is about the rapist, not his victim.

"We live in a society where rape isn't taken as seriously as it should be," said Katt Schott-Mancini, one of the organisers of the Boston SlutWalk.

"There's victim blaming: the idea that the victim of rape did something wrong. What you are wearing doesn't cause rape – the rapist causes it."

Schott-Mancini said she was herself a survivor of abuse by a former partner. "People belittled me, implying that it was my fault and that I shouldn't be an independent woman," she added.

The SlutWalks have particularly taken off among college students, given the location of the officer's remarks and the high prevalence of sexual violence on campus. The US government's Centres for Disease Control and Prevention found that up to one in four women in US universities report having experienced an attempted or completed rape while in college.

SlutWalk Toronto continues to be the organisational focal point. Its website – motto: "being a slut and getting pissed off" – proclaims that the word "slut" is being reappropriated.

"Whether a fellow slut or simply an ally, you don't have to wear your sexual proclivities on your sleeve: we just ask that you come. Singles, couples, parents, sisters, brothers, children, friends. Come walk or roll or strut or holler or stomp with us."

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Guilty as Charged

Those 2 cops have zero chance of being acquitted.

A bruising seen on the woman's cervix coincides with her story of being forcibly raped in the position she had claimed. The lawyers tried to claim it could have a variety of different causes, including an earlier sexual episode, a venereal disease, the ER examination, or (this is the best one yet) from her vigorous scrubbing the morning after the attack.

How can a vigorous scrubbing result in a bruise ON HER CERVIX? (I don't even think the lawyer knows what a cervix is if that's his answer...)

And how could a lawyer try to dismiss the evidence by pretending to know more than the sexual assault forensics nurse? Their best course of action would be to blame the attack on someone else. There is clear evidence that she WAS attacked. Trying to claim otherwise, from the start, is hurting their case.

These two men are guilty as sin, and hopefully the justice system will see to it that they are severely reprimanded.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Did They or Didn't They?

It's important to get news from multiple sources. The same news from multiple media. Few things will remain consistent from article to article, and it is probably those few things that are the true facts.

Night of Horror with Rape Cops - NY Post

Accuser Back on Stand in NYPD Rape Cops Trial: Admits Drinking but Says 'I Remember I was Raped' - NY Daily News

Full Transcripts: Alleged Rape Cop Kenneth Moreno Meets with his Accuser

Listen to Alleged Rape Cop Allegedly Impersonate Canadian in 911 Call - Gothamist

Piecing together this story proves more difficult with every new article. My original feeling was that the woman was severely intoxicated (the fact that she was able to walk almost on her own does not discount that fact to me) and probably made some come on's to the police officer, who then had sex with her. I felt that the rape had happened, but that the cop was just an idiot about the rules of consent. Undoubtedly, this woman should have been taken to the hospital. And from what I know of police, I'm not entirely sure why some higher up in the department did not tell the officers that she had to go.

But then I read the full transcript of the conversation with Officer Moreno. And that sounds like he's innocent, at least of raping her. He not only continuously denies the act (which of course he would do regardless), but retells full conversations they shared. Yes, surveillance shows they returned multiple times, but I believe that she had asked them to. Honestly, I probably would too, if I were in her position.

The transcript also mentions other tenants that appeared high on marijuana were banging on the victim's door at some point in the night. If the officers were continually able to get into her apartment, it's quite possible that these other persons were also able to enter.

I do believe something happened to her. I believe she woke up to someone having sex with her. I believe that she showered, despite know she shouldn't, because she felt dirty. But maybe it wasn't the police that did it.

And then I heard the 911 call, which was quite obviously not a cell phone-less Canadian named John Edwards. Why did they feel the need to make up a call to get back in the building? Why did they ignore a more important call, one of a woman screaming? Why were they so desperate to go back and see this girl? Even if she asked them to, it's weird, and certainly incriminating to put in that much effort to obey her alleged requests.

I don't know.