Friday, March 25, 2011

Consent (again)

Woman files criminal charges after discovering her masseuse is heterosexual

A woman was getting a massage at her gym when the masseuse asked her if she wanted him to massage her butt and breasts. She assumed the masseuse was homosexual, and consented on that basis. There was never any talk of sexuality between the two - she simply thought that since he seemed effeminate he must be gay. Since she believed he would get no sexual gratification out of the massage, she consented to essentially have her breasts and butt fondled.

Well, turns out he's heterosexual after all. Apparently the massage in question can be normal practice. The woman however, filed a criminal complaint of sexual misconduct.

So although she consented, she consented under a certain false belief. A belief that was never substantiated.

This case should be thrown out. She consented, explicitly, verbally, admittedly to these acts. There was no threat, or fear for her physical or emotional well-being if she did not consent. She was not under the influence of any drugs or any alcohol. Whether the man is gay or not is irrelevant. There is also no evidence to suggest his proposal was out of sexual desire, as she believes.

So there are several problems with this charge. One, her stereotyping homosexuality puts her in a bad light. Two, if she felt uncomfortable at all with the situation, she could have said no before or during the massage, without consequence. Three, he explicitly asked if she would like the massage, displaying completely professional behavior. And, of course, four, she explicitly verbally consented to such acts.

There was no assumption of consent. There was no coercion for consent. Willingly consenting to a sexual act, whether that act involves a gay or straight man (or woman) gives that man, or woman, the ability to act. It is only criminal if there is no consent, or if that consent is coerced, or if the person giving the consent is under the influence. This woman has no case whatsoever.

This is a false accusation, and should be treated as such.

Monday, March 21, 2011


This scene, taken from the movie Sleepers (1996)showcases the shame associated with being a victim of sexual assault. The four kids in the clip were sentenced to a year in a juvenile detention center, and while there, were sexually molested by the guards. They never told a soul, until 10 years later, when two of the kids came across one of the guards again. After shooting, and killing him, the truth came out in their trial.

Why did these kids never tell anyone? They were stuck in a horrific situation, and despite being visited by their friend, a priest on multiple occasions, they kept the truth from even him. They convinced their parents to not even come visit. To them, enduring the assaults seemed like a better idea than attempting to get out of the situation at the cost of telling everyone what had happened.

Shame is a powerful emotion. The feeling evoked by such a clear and profound violation of ones rights and privacy can overpower everything else. Any desire for prosecution, any need for help, is overshadowed by the desire for secrecy. To let no one know what happened, in fear of being judged. A fear not entirely unfounded in this society.

20-25% of women will be victims of rape, or attempted rape by the time they graduate college. Most people will deny this claim, say that the number is too high, despite it being a result of thousands of anonymous surveys from colleges all over the country. Police records will show a smaller number than the truth, because a vast majority of people never tell the police, or file a case after such an assault. Colleges will never admit the number of sexual assaults that happen on their campus because it'll deter applications.

So how can we change this? How do we get more people to come forward with their stories? To get the help so many of them need and deserve? How can we make scenes like the one shown in the movie the exception rather than the rule?

That's the easy part. We just need to listen, and to believe. To stop blaming the victim. Rid the rape myths from our own minds, and be there for those who have the strength to confide.

Understand the strength it takes to come forward with the experience of a sexual assault.

Respect the victim. Their trauma. Their story. Their emotions, whatever they may be.

No one should have to live in fear. Especially not the innocent victims of a violent crime.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Toddlers and Tiaras

I wish I could just end the rant with that subject line. Toddlers in Tiaras. Should be 'nuff said. Yet apparently,

"On any given weekend, on stages across the country, little girls and boys parade around wearing makeup, false eyelashes, spray tans and fake hair to be judged on their beauty, personality and costumes."

Now regardless of gender (as they claim this happens with boys too...) I am horribly disturbed that there are people out there who AREN'T horribly disturbed by this. That mothers make up their children (as young as TWO!) in spray tans, fake eyelashes, fake toenails (and fingernails, of course), and fake teeth.

Because who wants a natural looking child? Those crooked teeth in an undeveloped mouth, that pale skin that screams "I haven't been alive long enough to get a tan," and nails on hands and feet that are just beginning to grow.

Why are we, as a society, instilling these values in these young girls? That to be beautiful is to be fake? That if you're not beautiful, by these crazy standards a bunch of people behind the media scenes created, then you're just not good enough.

I made the unfortunate decision to watch the Tyra Show which was on this very subject (which is, of course, why I'm writing this). Of course, the parents claim their children want to do it, that they enjoy it, that they can stop any time they want to. Sounds like an addict's mantra to me.

On this same episode, they talked to young girls who compete in these pageants. One of whom said they enjoy it because they want the money.

She was 5. a five-year-old girl saying she wants the money that comes in from pageants. Those are some good values her mother is instilling. Although she did have the next answer down, saying money's good for school. (Later we find out she wanted to spend her $1000 winnings on a cow. Yes, a cow.)

If I had a daughter, who, on her own accord, came to me and told me she wanted to be in a beauty pageant, regardless of whether she was 5, 15, or 25, I'd ask her why. I can't think of a single good reason. To boost confidence? Believe in yourself, work hard, and don't listen to naysayers. To feel beautiful? You are beautiful, naturally. For the attention? Become an actress, a singer, a dancer. Any answer to that question produces a host of other alternatives that, to me, are much healthier options.

Here's why:

Another girl on the show, aged ten, answered a question from the audience. Clearly, her mother had not taught her how to field this one:
"Would you rather be pretty, or smart?"
Her answer:
"I'd rather be pretty. Like, I wouldn't want to be that smart. Like, I'd rather be beautiful than a nerd."
Tyra: And being smart means being a nerd?
Pageant queen: "haha, yeah..."

I wish I could leave it there. Tyra then asks the mother to basically try to do some damage control. The mother literally just reiterates everything her daughter said. That, yes she would probably rather be pretty than smart, but at least she is smart while saying it!

Doesn't sound like it.

When girls, when ANYONE, says they'd rather be pretty than smart, when being a nerd is terrible fate, I have to worry for the fate of this country. I'd like to think, I do think, being smart is an attractive trait in and of itself.

I got news for you killer. We all age. Those looks - they won't last forever. Even surgery isn't gonna stop the aging process. And when that fails, you, like all of us, will have nothing to rely on but your brain.

What's more unattractive than a young girl caked in makeup touting the importance of looks over brains? A mother who embraces it.