Becoming Ugly " We’ve been told time and time again that prettiness and likability will protect us from harm, that to be good women, we must play by these rules, but this is a lie. Nothing will protect us except for ourselves—and what’s more fortifying than a defensive exterior? There are days when all I want is to become a human road sign, a blinking hazard to any man misfortunate enough to cross my path: “I WANT TO OFFEND YOUR SIGHT. I WANT TO OFFEND YOUR EVERYTHING.” [...] Be rough like Rosie O’Donnell, or be polished and “good” like Ivanka Trump—they’ll use you either way, so you might as well be barbed and coarse enough to tear up their hands when they do. Now, all I hope for is to cause my own sort of minor destruction to the men who would otherwise take things away from me."
Scholars and activists, poets and playwrights have been writing about rape for centuries. What would the conversation around sexual assault, police bias, and the legal system look like if investigators, police officers, and judges read deeply into the literature on sexuality, racial justice, violence, and power? It is in view of this question that the following syllabus is offered as a scholarly resource—and object of critical discussion and debate—on "rape culture" in the 21st century. Public Books presents a 13-week Rape Culture Syllabus. [more inside]
One month before Election Day, with the Trump campaign reeling from enough October Surprises to fill an advent calendar, the Washington Post's intrepid David Fahrenthold has landed what may be the mortal blow: vulgar 2005 footage of the Republican nominee bragging about his sexual abuse of married women, just months after marrying his third wife, Melania. "When you’re a star, they let you do it," the future presidential candidate declares. "Grab 'em by the p***y. You can do anything." The bombshell has forced GOP leaders to recoil from Trump and issue a parade of rebukes, with Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz revoking support, House Speaker Paul Ryan cancelling a joint rally, and top donors pulling funds and demanding a new candidate. Hours after a terse press release from the then-59-year-old calling it "locker room banter," Trump released a rare apology in a midnight video maligning the Clintons while vowing to attend the presidential town hall debate Sunday. Betting markets aren't so sure. Unfortunately for the GOP, there’s no longer any way to boot Donald Trump from the ballot. [more inside]
Reductress Is Devoting Its Entire Site to Rape Jokes That Punch Up: "In response to a sexual assault controversy that’s currently engulfing the New York comedy scene, women’s satire site Reductress has devoted its entire landing page to humor articles (primarily written by women) about rape." [warning: pointed satire about rape, rape culture, and abuse] [more inside]
On the eve of the 2016 NFL Draft, as one of its most talked-about players faces domestic assault charges, Detroit Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy pens a heartfelt essay on masculinity, power, and sexual violence: "It’s important for men, especially in a hyper-masculine culture that breeds so many assholes, to stand up and challenge the values that have been passed down to us. This is not just a woman’s problem."
Since my attempted rape I’ve had people say all manner of stupid things about my experience. None of them thought they were being insensitive and that’s the problem.
I know that I made the mistake of thinking that living well is the best revenge ... If I were a victim of the other horrific crime in my book, I would talk about it openly. I wouldn't pretend like it hadn't happened to me, like I don't still hurt about it, like I don't still cry about it. Why should this be any different? What I know, an essay by Jessica Knoll. Also, in the NYT, Jessica Knoll Reveals the Rape Behind Her Novel, ‘Luckiest Girl Alive’. (There are not enough trigger warnings in the world for this difficult, brave essay and the article about it.)
"I talked to a woman who asked for anonymity because she’s still associated professionally with the University of Iowa. 'When I got to Iowa,' she told me, 'I was like, who the fuck are these people? And where are the adults?'" Jia Tolentino on Thomas Sayers Ellis, VIDA, and the "tradition" of bad behavior from powerful men in the creative fields.
"Violence and nurturance are two sides of the same coin. I struggle to understand this even as I write it." From Nora Samaran, author of Dating Tips for the Feminist Man (previously).
Reading a barrage of violent comments and threats doesn’t make me want to retaliate. It doesn’t make me want to fire back at those guys with the same hate and rage that they spewed my direction about me and the rest of my gender. It makes me want to censor myself. It makes me hesitant to write certain jokes. Could this tweet make hundreds of men tell me I belong locked in their closet? Will this idea I’m putting out there also end in threats of rape or murder?Is That a Threat?, by Alison Leiby for The Lighthouse.
There's this thing that happens whenever I speak about or write about women's issues. Things like dress codes, rape culture and sexism. I get the comments: Aren't there more important things to worry about? Is this really that big of a deal? Aren't you being overly sensitive? Are you sure you're being rational about this? Every. Single. Time. And every single time I get frustrated. Why don't they get it? I think I've figured out why. They don't know. They don't know about de-escalation. Minimizing. Quietly acquiescing. [slhuffpo]
Alan Dershowitz on the Defense (His Own) by Barry Meier [The New York Times]
Last month, demonstrators at Johns Hopkins University interrupted Alan M. Dershowitz as he was giving a fiery speech defending Israel. The disruption normally would not have fazed Mr. Dershowitz, a former Harvard Law School professor who thrives on controversy and relishes taking on opponents in and out of the courtroom. The protesters, however, were not challenging his Middle East politics. Instead, they held up a sign reading, “You Are Rape Culture.” Mr. Dershowitz knew what it meant. A decade ago, he had defended a friend, a money manager named Jeffrey E. Epstein, after authorities in Palm Beach, Fla., found evidence indicating that he was paying underage girls to give him sexual massages. The lawyer led a scorched-earth attack on the girls and, with a team of high-priced lawyers, cut a plea deal for Mr. Epstein that the local police said was too lenient.[more inside]
What is actually going on with men, right now? What are they afraid of and unwilling to talk about? How do the inner lives of men affect women, other men, our culture? We see men struggling to define themselves at a time when gender definitions are expanding. We see men dealing, sometimes gracefully and sometimes not, with the weight of their power. And we learn that what it means to be a modern man is just like everything else: complex, messy, and always changing. Medium presents: The Men Issue [more inside]
"I am a hetero white cis man working to take the space I have in the world and make it feminist... I know that it should be rapists' responsibility to not rape instead of survivors' responsibility to not get raped, and I know that by virtue of being a dude who doesn't talk to other dudes about rape I am complicit in rape culture, but I just have no idea where to begin. Can you talk to me about talking to rapists about rape?" [cw: potentially triggering language abounds]
We demand that women live in fear and behave impeccably to avoid 'asking for it.' "In an extract from her book, Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture — and What We Can Do About It, author Kate Harding explains how women order their lives around the fear of rape – and of being blamed for not preventing it." [more inside]
"The allegations of hypocrisy became the through line of her legacy. Even today — in Frank Langella’s recent memoir, on the celebrity gossip site Oh No They Didn’t, or my own piece on [Clark] Gable, published four years ago, [Loretta] Young is understood as a woman who didn’t live by her own set of publicly propagated values: a sinning saint. "Yet as Linda explained, “With Judy [her child with Gable], she was trapped. She had this lie and no way to frame it. She took full responsibility for hiding it all her life. To be stuck — so caught, in such a public way. What could she have done with that?”" - Anne Helen Petersen [previouslys] revisits Loretta Young's greatest scandal [TW for rape]
“It has nothing to do with you, it has everything to do with everyone else.” Canadian reporter Shauna Hunt confronts the young men who were vulgar and sexually harassing her as she tried to do her job. [more inside]
My approach in shooting the portraits was to create a community experience. I set up open calls for women and female-identifying individuals to have their photographs taken holding whatever made them feel most safe walking home alone.Iowa-based artist Taylor Yocom presents: Guarded. [more inside]
"But, Coach—we play football!" Inside Amy Schumer does a parody of Friday Night Lights and certain aspects of football culture.
"If his name was John Brown, he would have been in jail," one criminal justice official with knowledge of the case said. "If a woman says, 'He's the guy that raped me,' and you have corroborating evidence to show they were together and she went to the hospital and she can identify him, that guy goes to jail."Last week, ProPublica and the New Orleans Advocate published the results of their months-long joint investigation outlining how law enforcement officers in five states repeatedly (and sometimes deliberately) failed to apprehend former NFL star Darren Sharper as he traveled cross-country drugging and raping women: Upon Further Review.
[cw: rape, sexual assault, violent misogyny, law enforcement collusion to cover up same] [more inside]
Rolling Stone has published an exhaustive Columbia School of Journalism study on their flawed reporting of an accusation of gang-rape at a University of Virginia fraternity (previously), with recommendations both for Rolling Stone and for media outlets globally about how to report on rape more responsibly in the future.
When a female student sued the University of Oregon over their manipulation of the punishment of three basketball players for gangraping her in order to allow them to compete in the NCAA Tournament, the university came up with a novel defense strategy: they released her records from the campus health center from when she sought therapy after the rape to their legal team. Without either consent from the student or a legal order opening the records to discovery. The scariest part: they may very well be in the legal clear. [more inside]
Nudging College Students to Prevent Rape and Sexual Assault: Would serial offenders have a harder time if more men and women felt personally responsible for stopping them?
An unusual feature of residential life at Pomona was the "sponsor program," wherein two sophomores (one male and one female) are assigned to live in every freshmen hall. Sponsors didn't enforce rules like residence advisors. Indeed, sponsors often used their upperclassmen friends to get fake IDs or knowledge of local liquor stores to help their new freshmen friends to obtain alcohol. But part of sponsor training involved being taught how to help or intervene in circumstances as varied as clinical depression, alcohol poisoning, an eating disorder, or a drug addiction. For the most part, you avoided butting into anyone's business on campus, even if that person was breaking rules. But you also did your best to prevent anything catastrophic from happening, being just slightly older and wiser. Even a light touch could accomplish a lot. "Dude, you're drunk. Leave her alone. Eat this pizza.""Don't get raped" education is tired and unhelpful. "Don't rape people" education is (many claim) pie-in-the-sky idealism. What if the education focused on bystanders instead? Conor Friedersdorf writes about his own undergraduate experience and whether something like it might be expanded to other colleges.
Bye Felipe. Calling out dudes who turn hostile when rejected or ignored.
The groundbreaking decision in California to address rape culture with a new standard that aids in defining sexual consent was signed into law this week by Governor Jerry Brown. The men's magazine GQ immediately provided a useful (and progressive!) guide called "Nine Signs She Wants to Have Sex with You (Even in California)".
Two prominent kink bloggers propose that we change how we think about consent to combat rape culture and to create positive, meaningfully consensual experiences for all. [more inside]
Who's Lying? Who's Self-Justifying?: Origins of the He Said/She Said Gap in Sexual Communications. Carol Tavris, a social psychology researcher, took the stage at The Amaz!ng Meeting 2014 to talk about sexual abuse allegations, feminism and rape culture.
i believe you | it's not your fault. The "What are we doing here?" post explains the origin: [more inside]
Nightmare in Maryville - The Kansas City Star investigates the backlash against the victims family after rape charges were brought (and dropped) against local atheletes. The pattern of victim blaming and local indiference have brought comparisons to the Steubenville, Ohio case (previously) and anger on the internet. Meanwhile the Grand Jury investigation into Steubenville has brought it's first charges against an adult involved with the cover-up.
It's Your Fault "Every sexual assault case in India inspires a string of stupid and hateful remarks against women. This is our response to those remarks." (SLYT) From AIB365, an Indian sketch comedy troupe.
"Every year Playboy releases the ultimate guide to campus life: our infamous party school list. Over the years, it has been brought to our attention that some of our long-standing party picks have a not-so-toast-worthy, rape-ridden side to their campus life. Somewhere in the countless hours we spent tallying up co-eds and scoring beer pong, we lost track of the most essential element of the Playboy lifestyle: sexual pleasure. Rape is kryptonite to sexual pleasure. The two cannot co-exist. For our revised party guide to live up to our founder’s vision, we had to put a new criterion on top. Namely, consent. In other words… A good college party is all about everyone having a good time. Consent is all about everyone having a good time. Rape is only a good time if you’re a rapist. And fuck those people. In our new found light, we proudly present to you Playboy’s 2013 Top Ten Party Commandments, the ultimate guide for a consensual good time." Or did they,
College students across the country conspired to promote consent: the story behind yesterday’s Playboy hoax.[more inside]
The Inside Story Of The Feminists Who Fooled Us Into Thinking Playboy Cared About Consent
On Tuesday, a court in India convicted four men of "rape, unnatural sex, murder, conspiracy and destruction of evidence" after they brutally gang-raped a woman on a bus in Delhi last December. The woman died two weeks later in a Singapore hospital. When news broke, it sparked protests (previously) and raised awareness worldwide about the plight of many women in India. Now that the verdict is in, the Guardian analyzes the incident to see how "the nation's surge to superpower status has left millions behind struggling on the margins." (Links in this post contain descriptions of rape and assault which some may find disturbing.) [more inside]
"My desire for experience, for openness, for adventure, had been overpowered by a stronger imperative, one I had internalized without realizing it: Don’t get yourself raped." Travel writer Tara Burton writes about her different opportunities and experiences, and the changed values they have brought her.
A 21 year old man was arrested for tweeting rape threats. The target of the tweets, Caroline Criado-Perez, had successfully campaigned to have a woman (Jane Austen) shown on the UK's new 10 pound note, and has been subsequently receiving incessant rape and death threats via twitter, a violation of UK law. Twitter's Terms of Service are being repeatedly and flagrantly violated in this episode, and the company appears to be having issues responding to a backlog of reports; it responded to Criado-Perez only that she take the matter to the police. This resulted in shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper asking Twitter to review its policies for handling abuse complaints. [more inside]
How being a writer helped me rewrite a sexist trope...for real. Submitted for your approval: a writer (Chris Brecheen) uses his narrative skills to turn the tables on an everyday creeper.
"The brutal* gang rape of a student in Delhi on December 15 has ignited anger across the country. Youth and students from various cities raised their voices demanding a safer society for women and an end to violence in every form*. From the capital* city of Delhi to Hyderabad and Guwahati, protesters turned up in large numbers to register their protest." (text via The Hindu's slideshow) Women protesters were also sexually harassed during these protests. *may contain triggers
Victoria's Secret has a new line of feminist-friendly underwear: PINK ♥s Consent. Except not really -- it's a hoax site created by FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture. The internet's response has been tremendous.
Kevin Clash has resigned from Sesame Street as his first accuser retracts his retraction and a second accuser emerges. Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon says this can't kill Elmo. Previously, and previously, alas.
"Why had I thought I’d be immune to being called a slut, whore, homewrecker, protected from having my motives and intentions questioned, from being treated as if I were the criminal? And by my own attorney, no less."
"The Creepicus Complainicus, of the genus “Saddest Panda.” His cry is 'Why won’t someone just touch my wiener?'" Captain Awkward addresses the perrenial case of the creepy dude and the development of the proto-rapist. [more inside]
Cpl. Catherine Galliford of Canada's Royal Canadian Mounted Police first spoke out against sustained and widespread sexual harrassment by her superior officers in November of last year and launched a lawsuit in May 2012. Yesterday, the federal government of Canada and the provincial government of British Columbia issued a categorical denial of Galliford's charges. [more inside]
After I called out to him, Tosh paused for a moment. Then, he says, “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by like, 5 guys right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just raped her…”Daniel Tosh has more or less apologized after a Tumblr user posted a friend's experience at one of his recent shows. But the controversy has now somehow drawn in Louis C.K., who posted an apparent message of support for Tosh on Twitter the same week a date-rape-themed episode of Louie aired on FX. C.K. has also broached heckling on Louie [NSFW], and had previously defended Tracy Morgan in a similarly charged situation. [more inside]
Dahlia Lithwick: This week, the Virginia state Legislature passed a bill that would require women to have an ultrasound before they may have an abortion. Because the great majority of abortions occur during the first 12 weeks, that means most women will be forced to have a transvaginal procedure, in which a probe is inserted into the vagina, and then moved around until an ultrasound image is produced. Since a proposed amendment to the bill—a provision that would have had the patient consent to this bodily intrusion or allowed the physician to opt not to do the vaginal ultrasound—failed on 64-34 vote, the law provides that women seeking an abortion in Virginia will be forcibly penetrated for no medical reason. I am not the first person to note that under any other set of facts, that would constitute rape under state law. [more inside]
The Pervocracy is a kinky, feminist sexblog. Holly writes about her experiences as an active member of the BDSM community, a partner in a polyamorous relationship, and an all-around completely horny slut. She also writes editorials from a sex-positive feminist perspective, advice on sexuality and kink, and humorous critiques of sexism online and in the media. [more inside]
Should Colleges Ban Fraternities? A New York Times roundtable that takes the Yale Title IX complaint and related cases as its starting point. Via Historiann, whose anti-frat attitudes are much more pointed than any of the New York Times commenters.