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Posts Tagged ‘violence against women’

–we are women” : an article by amanda kijera.

The United Nations, western women’s organizations and the Haitian government must immediately provide women in Haiti with the funding that they need to build domestic violence and rape crisis centers. Stop dividing Black families by distributing solely to women, which only exaggerates male resentment and frustration in Haiti. Provide both women and men with job training programs that would allow for self-sufficiency as opposed to continued dependency on whites. Lastly, admit that the issue of racial integration might still need addressing on an international level, and then find a way to address it!

so i have a special research interest in haiti, in case y’all didn’t already know. i found this article to be really engaging, stupendously interesting. i feel so confused by this! i feel confused by one of the responses to the above:

How is it possible, after being the victim of a brutal rape, to absolve the perpetrator of guilt and point the finger at men of another color who are nowhere near one’s body? This projection is absolutely stunning and self-defeating.

The man who committed this crime committed it for his reason and his alone. Without holding him to account, what hope of change is there? If a person cannot own his behavior, he cannot change it.

This sort of rationalization would absolve white slave owners, by the way. They were simply victims of cultural thinking at the time. And the patriarchy? A remnant of twisted religious extremism.

No one would be responsible for any action at any time, anywhere. There is, after all, a context for every crime.

At the root of this absolution is a desire to push personal responsibility on the collective. Unfortunately, the collective was not in that room that night. One man raped one woman.

oh dear. what now? what is this now. why am i so confused? can anyone please tell me what is going on, and who should do what, and why? and how this fits into all of it?

Melissa’s words are so incredibly powerful, and I can’t make that point any better than she can. This is not about the “global hierarchy”. Every person has control over their actions. Amanda’s rapist is no different. Her response is astounding to most – how could she possibly blame the status of the black man in the world society for this? How was the man that beat her and abused her not at fault? We’re right to question that.

oh, i miss Bq, i want Bq to tell me how to think about this real bad!

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The tagline is "Every rose has its thorns." eheh heh heh?

So I just watched the movie Teeth. This is one rich film for a feminist. I highly recommend watching it. If you want to watch it before I give away the plot, I know you can find it for free at Surfthechannel… or you could, like, pay to watch it. Not like I did, but I’m all for that. SO now, DON’T READ FURTHER.

Okay, spoilers commence here. And, another warning: I’m gonna be talking about rape and sexual assault so, TRIGGER WARNING. This is how I saw the movie.

Teeth is the story of girl in high school who is a teenage advocate for The Promise Ring and boils in her repressed sexuality. She meets a guy at one of her speeches about the values of abstinence and immediately they hit it off–they have that special something. This girl lives at home with her mom, dad, and step-brother (?) who is basically the most misogynistic, horrible, sexual-assault-y dude ever. Her parents seem to be, like, the sweetest people everrr. So, after a particularly disgusting encounter with her brother which ends with him saying something like “you know who you’ve been saving yourself for, all this abstinence bullshit… you want me” the girl storms out of her house and decides that she’s gonna risk her “purity” and go out to the swimming hole with cute guy she met at the abstinence meeting. They dive into the water and (arguably) it’s adorable and romantic and I couldn’t help but want them to get some cause hey, they’re both just so darn conflicted and repressed. They kiss and feel guilty… kiss and feel guilty… then the girl swims further down the swimming hole into the cave where it’s rumored that kids “…you know” (subtext: have the sex). She climbs up onto a ledge in the cave where someone had already laid down a sleeping bag. Oh dear. Boy swims after her but she tells him not to come up there. He says “I’m freezing” in the water and climbs up anyway. They sit together and it’s still cute cause they don’t want to make moves but they can’t seem to help themselves and they get to kissing and touching and mounting. Then the girl stops them and says, “let’s go back down.” The guy says okay. BUT SUDDENLY. He mounts her again and starts pulling off his underwear saying things like “let me just try this” and then shouting at her, “I haven’t jerked off since Easter!” and she repeatedly says “NO! I’m SAYING NO!” It is horrifying transition from cutesy first love to a full-on THIS IS RAPE scene. After about a minute of wrestling and violence, the boy ultimately penetrates her. Then we hear a slicing kind of noise. The boy screams and, with difficulty, pulls himself free, gushing blood. A large portion of his penis drops to the rocky ground. He continues crying/screaming and jumps back into the water. This girl has teeth in her vagina (“vagina dentata”) that are apparently activated by non-consensual penetration.

So if that gives you an idea of what the movie is like… I’m gonna skip around through the rest of the things that I found interesting/disturbing/questionable about the movie.

Every male character besides the rather sweet papa turns out to just want to rape our protagonist. After the incident at the water hole, the girl goes to the gynecologist, who, after examining her, gives a furtive glance and seemingly decides that, since she’s never been to the gyno before, she won’t mind if he lubes up his hand and starts fisting her. She is severely uncomfortable, says so, and after a few thrusts, we hear the slicing noise. The gyno shrieks, four fingers fall to the floor, and as the girl escapes the room, the gyno starts screaming “VAGINA DENTATA! VAGINA DENTATA!” After this, the girl approaches another “nice guy” from school who proceeds to drug her and coerce into having sex, but she’s too drugged to feel threatened (thus, no castration this time). She has sex with him and they both smile and they both orgasm and it almost seems nice if it wasn’t that HE RAPED HER. She wakes up the next morning, has more sex with him, but, mid-thrusting, this guy answers his phone and he says “Hey. Yeah, doing it riiiight now. She’s right here.” He looks at her and says, “Say something.” She is disgusted, says, “no.” and asks him what’s going on. He tells her he made a bet with his friends over whether he could fuck her. After a few more words exchanged, he shrieks and, once again, a penis is severed. There is one more instance of this. Then an implied one in the end of the film. I will say that, from my point of view (and as far as I could see on other reviews of the movie), every person dismembered by the vagina dentata seemed to really “deserve” what they got–the penetrators were rendered utterly detestable.

I wonder about the “female empowerment” of the vagina dentata concept, when obviously any woman put in those situations in our world does not have this power over the penetrator. However, is the fear and discomfort that this film provokes in (reportedly) many penetrators an empowerment in some way? That maybe more people will think twice before they just compulsively penetrate?

I wonder about the genre of this movie and how it excuses certain plot points. For example, as a horror movie, I could say something like, “well, in most horror movies, women are disgustingly shallow characters and are nearly always humiliated in a graphically sexual/violent way, so it’s cool that this one is turning the tables.” And thus I justify the feminist goal of this movie. BUT this is a movie about the oft-ignored topic of rape, and the even more ignored topic of female defense against rape. Are women, as targets of the rapes portrayed, supposed to take heart in that there’s one story about a girl who has the magical power to exact justice on her rapist? What is valuable about this story to feminists and/or rape victims? Is this movie really made for these people? Or is this another kind of band-aid movie… a movie that makes everyone feel good about rape because, in this case, justice was served? I’m torn. I hated the rape scenes, but I learned, through the movie, to start feeling okay about them because I knew those fuckers were about to get their dicks handed to them.

I’m starting to hate feel-good movies.

There is also the sort of subplot about abstinence education. This is perhaps the most intellectually stimulating part of the movie. Our protagonist goes to a school where the sex-ed teacher cannot even bear to say the word “vagina” and the school textbooks have huge stickers pasted over the anatomical drawings of vaginas. It is made very clear that this is a misogynist community. What is the value of having a rather campy horror movie with pretty clear implications that abstinence-only sex education is, at best, painfully ironic? Afterall, the protagonist starts out as a fairly confident spokesperson for The Promise Ring.

So, after this long-ass post, do y’all have any thoughts?

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this is hardly a news flash but jaxiefriend shared it with me and i wanted to refresh our collective memory…

Lisak started with a simple observation. Most of what we know about men who commit rape comes from studying the ones who are in prison. But most rapes are never reported or prosecuted. So Lisak, at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, set out to find and interview men he calls “undetected rapists.” Those are men who’ve committed sexual assault, but have never been charged or convicted.

He found them by, over a 20-year period, asking some 2,000 men in college questions like this: “Have you ever had sexual intercourse with someone, even though they did not want to, because they were too intoxicated [on alcohol or drugs] to resist your sexual advances?”

Or: “Have you ever had sexual intercourse with an adult when they didn’t want to because you used physical force [twisting their arm, holding them down, etc.] if they didn’t cooperate?”

About 1 in 16 men answered “yes” to these or similar questions.

not that i want weapons to be involved but this makes me sickkk. i will speak for myself and only myself here when i say that debilitating your opponent to the point of unconsciousness nauseates me in a very specific way that makes this tactic as unforgivable (to me) as violence.

“The basic weapon is alcohol,” the psychologist says. “If you can get a victim intoxicated to the point where she’s coming in and out of consciousness, or she’s unconscious — and that is a very, very common scenario — then why would you need a weapon? Why would you need a knife or a gun?”

now this is the tricky icky part. im all up for forcing accountability where its due (am i? tbd). but i think perhaps wholesale incarceration (a word/concept that bears more than a passing resemblance to the word/concept “castration) (it makes me feel so weird that i just noticed that) (because what im NOT trying to do is equate worth/freedom with masculinity/manliness/testes)…where were we. oh yes. perhaps wholesale incarceration of sex offenders is not the right answer? in fact, it definitely isnt. though anecdotally everyone ive talked to about rape supports this punitive tactic. DISCUSS.

But Lisak, the psychologist, says schools put too much faith in teachable moments, when they ought to treat sexual assault as a criminal matter. “These are clearly not individuals who are simply in need of a little extra education about proper communication with the opposite sex,” he says. “These are predators.”

i hope that they are changing names for privacy…this below is so typical it almost makes me yawn. almost.

At Texas A&M, Elton Yarbrough was a promising student. Then he was linked to five rapes.

The first woman went to the student health center. She says that as staffers did a rape examination, one asked, “Well, were you drunk?” The woman felt she was being blamed.

what to do?!?! i think an important strategy to combat rape in a rape-culture is of rhetorical variety. say “he raped her” not “she was raped.” etc. or should we?!?! i know that passive grammar absolves rapist of rape-guilt but does it psychologically protect rape-ee in some way? DISCUSS.

another thing: should i have tagged “men” in this post? i did. DISCUSS.

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another post about rape–a really great, analytical post by a prolific blogger on wordpress. thanks to jlu for sharing!

The way men and women interact on a daily basis is the way they interact when rape occurs. The social dynamics we see at play between men and women are the same social dynamics that cause men to feel rape is okay, and women to feel they have no right to object. And if you accept those social interactions as normal and appropriate in your day to day life, there is absolutely no reason you should be shocked that rape occurs without screaming, without fighting, without bruising, without provocation, and without prosecution. Behavior exists on a continuum. Rape doesn’t inhabit its own little corner of the world, where everything is suddenly all different now. The behavior you accept today is the behavior that becomes rape tomorrow. And you very well might accept it then, too.

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This is part of an essay that I wrote for my Domestic Violence class, that I’m a little proud of… This is a segment of it, I tried to put it in context, but I think it’s still pretty accessible. Let me know if you want to read the rest or need more explanation, I apologize for the dense Irene-is-writing-a-paper mode. I’ve been thinking about the battle between masculinity and femininity a lot lately, and I think this whole conflation of science with truth with masculinity is one of the main reasons femininity is so shit upon. This class has definitely made me appreciate my feminine side a whole lot more. Here goes:

Murray Straus conducted a survey in the early 1980s that was scientifically “objective” (it had a HUGE sample, quantitative research, etc.), measuring the rate of abuse in U.S. American families. It posed questions asking the recipient of the survey the frequency of certain acts of violence, for example “I slapped my partner” or “I forced my partner to have sex when they were unwilling” with the options “never” to “more than 20 times”. The survey was flawed in many ways, however, notably (a) that it did not include any qualitative research, (b) that it assumed that surveyees would answer questions such as the former honestly and with no inner conflict, (c) that it did not take into account whether the partner was acting violent in self-defense and (d) that it did not take into account the severity of violent acts when asking questions like “I punched my partner” (i.e. we do not know if that means the partner then took a step backwards, or the partner then fell backwards through a plate glass table requiring a trip to the emergency room). The survey concluded that “family violence” is as commonly directed from men to women as from women to men. Once the results were published to the news media, with phrases like “we should be worrying about battered husbands!”… thousands of battered women’s shelters lost funding.

The clout of science in our society is immense—in this way it is impossible for even supposedly “apolitical” research to not turn political. We saw how Murray Straus’ “apolitical” and “objective” research was ultimately a political tool to many who dismissed feminist work in domestic violence. I believe it is unreasonable to think that a person can publish any social science research as “fact” when even the “harder” sciences such as biology are being politicized for theories like evolution. Even if we assume that objectivity is possible within the lab, there is no predicting how subjectively and politically the study will be received outside the lab. Yllo points out that “The assumption that observation and data can be divorced from theory (and values), and that the natural and (even more problematic) the social world can be objectively studied, is at the core of the debate”. It is my opinion that the data you collect and how you collect it cannot be divorced from your politics and values. I believe objectivity is not possible; it is merely an ideal that bolsters the findings of men.

The problem is that our society ascribes value only to objectivity and quantitative research. Feminist research is slandered in the male-dominated science world by means of attaching the labels “subjective” and “political”. These subtle attacks on feminist research must be exposed for what they are—that is, misogyny. Only then, I think, will quantitative and qualitative research be able to live in harmony. I do believe that quantitative research has some value and can help to observe patterns. But I do not believe that it can bring infallible truth without reinforcement from qualitative research.

In my life, feminism has revealed much more for me about the nature of humanity than science has ever “objectively” put forth. However, the difference between the two, according to our mainstream society, is that science is “fact”, while feminism is “biased politics”. To me, science lacks the self-consciousness that feminism contends as essential to a good study. I think either (a) you acknowledge your politics and how they shape your research or (b) you pretend you don’t have politics and they shape your research anyway subconsciously. The issue, to me, is transparency. Scientists that moon over objectivity refuse to believe that their experience of the world could have shaped their research even slightly. And this is how domestic violence stays invisible.

The power of science in our society is in that it establishes truth. If science does not acknowledge domestic violence, then domestic violence does not exist. Domestic violence is a phenomenon that is impossible to observe in its entirety without qualitative research. Thus, the two research methodologies of quantitative and qualitative must come together to legitimize domestic violence to our society. The first step to getting rid of a problem is admitting that you have a problem. Our society is in denial, and it is not until a combination of forces brings visibility to domestic violence that our society will admit that domestic violence is a problem. Science can bring that visibility.

p.s. This is also me trying to start a conversation about domestic violence here, but not knowing where to begin.

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lafitnessI just had a debate with a friend about George Sodini.  It was prompted by an article he linked to his profile, with a caption saying “you might find this disturbing.  or thought-provoking.”  It was a short but good conversation and I hope you’ll give your take on it, and on the George Sodini incident itself.   Here’s the original article:   http://exiledonline.com/revenge-of-the-nerd-what-the-media-wont-tell-you-about-the-rampage-killer-who-attacked-a-pittsburgh-aerobics-class/

ME:  well you got the first part right. That article IS disturbing. I’m all for sympathizing with disturbed people who commit crimes and then take their own lives. but the writer seems to forget that 3 women are dead, in large part, because of Sodini’s socialized sense of entitlement to female attention. I find it odd that the writer could find the classism angle (not a bad angle) but not the sexism angle. Instead, he came to the easy, privileged conclusion that maybe if those cold-hearted women fucked this guy more, he wouldn’t be “forced” to punish 3 female strangers for it. I. Call. Bullshit.

Wow that was longer than it was supposed to be. I guess it was thought-provoking. It just provoked thoughts that made me want to vomit.

HIM:  Well, the class angle doesn’t really even make sense either when you take into account the fact that he had a pretty nice job and even got promoted instead of laid off. I don’t know though, is a net worth after debt of over 250K doing well or doing poorly? I don’t really even know what that means.

But where do you get the idea that he felt entitled to female attention? If anything, it seems as if he felt he didn’t deserve to be loved by a woman. I don’t think it’s so unhealthy to feel worthy of being loved by someone of the opposite sex, in fact I think it’s necessary for your psychological well-being. I know from experience that lack of self-confidence can cause some serious frustration and mental issues. I don’t disagree that for Sodini this led to sexist thoughts and actions, but I have a hard time finding any evidence of a sense of privilege.

ME:  Oh really? The author made it seem like he was a working class guy. I should’ve known not to take his stupid word on anything. It depends. 250K a year? or like in his life?

when a lack of success with women leads to sexist thoughts, and especially violence, against them, that is gendered entitlement in its truest form. If he really felt no hostility towards women for not having sex with him, he would’ve only shot himself.

But I’m really taking issue with the author, who said that Sodini cracked because he was out of the Darwinian competition, and that he was just honest enough to admit that sex is one of the only things that matter. And what exactly am I to make of that? If I’m to accept that premise, how does it affect my daily life? Well I better watch out the next time I want to politely reject a guy at a bar. Instead of just calling me a bitch (also a sign of entitlement) he might blow my brains out and i’ll be partly responsible. 
your move sir!

HIM: I don’t know, whatever “net worth” means.

while i don’t wish to compare the two in terms of the pain they cause or anything else like that, I think this is the kind of desperation and frustration most women can never fully understand, just like rape and sexual assault is something most men can never fully understand.

i’m sorry, but hostility towards women =/= gendered entitlement. if you can show me what specifically makes you think he feels “entitled” as you say, other than “he’s pathetic and sexist and wants to get laid” then I’d be glad to take a look.

What I see is that he thinks there must be something wrong with him, and no one will tell him what it is. He thinks women are shit, it’s true. But he thinks of himself as not even being worthy of what he thinks is shit. that’s the opposite of entitlement. that’s complete self-deprecation.

Also, I do think sex is very, very important for a happy, healthy life. Don’t you?

ME:  He refers to women as “edible” and “so beautiful as to not be human.” He was reading a book on how to get young girls if you’re over 35. Not only did he feel entitled to a woman’s attention, he felt entitled to a much younger woman’s attention. When his illusions about this were threatened, it confused him and he snapped.

To say that a less-than confident man can’t exert male entitlement is like saying that a less-than-confident white person can’t exert white privilege. Whether you’re objectifying women out of overconfidence or underconfidence, you’re still objectifying them, and they still pay the greater price, ultimately.

Dan Savage sums up my view of George Sodini pretty well in his column. You should check it out, it’s the third question:

http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/SavageLove?oid=2017620

And yes, sex is an awesome thing and sexual frustration is depressing for men and women. but Sodini’s frustation could have been lessened if he didn’t believe (understandably considering the world he grew up in) that “a man needs a woman for confidence.”

HIM:   alright, well that’s not the impression I got from reading his blog, but I suppose we all have different interpretations. Dan Savage does have a lot of experience, obviously, so he must have good reason to see it that way.

Maybe I’m just fucked up and influenced by society and feel gendered entitlement as well, but I never feel as confident when I’m lonely than when I’m with someone. It’s not everything, but it’s a crucial part of the puzzle, at least for me.

ME:   Well we’ll agree to disagree I guess. At some point we should mull this shit over in person…and then have a fist fight.

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Anyone else really bothered by this ad?

A young girl drinks too much at a party and passes out. Her douche bag “friends” don’t attempt to take care of her and instead something bad happens. In this case they dress her up as a weird puppet. But when I watched this video I was immediately afraid for her. Why isn’t anyone taking care of her? Someone could easily take advantage of her.

It’s my guess that the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign wants to spark this kind of fear to prevent us vulnerable women from drinking. While I have no problem with educating youth as to the dangers of alcohol abuse I have a huge problem with this sort of sparking of fear and blame game.

The girl in this ad was not dressed up as a puppet because she drank too much. She was dressed up like a puppet because her friends are assholes. Similarly had something worse happened in this ad, it wouldn’t have been because she was drinking. No one asks for this to happen, no matter how many beers you drink.

Why is this ad trying to blame her? Why isn’t this ad a watch out for you friends ad? Who is in control, the piece asks. Answer: rape culture.

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