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Male Victims; Female Assailants

Please allow me to openly and sincerely apologize. The statistics I’ve been working and quoting from for the past two years showed undeniably that 99% of sexual violence was perpetrated by men onto other men, women, transgender people, and children. New studies show that number might be as low as 60%, still the majority, but low enough to make a huge difference about the way we talk about sexual violence. Little did I know that the definition for rape previous studies used only counted anal and oral penetration as rape when discussing male victims of assault. They didn’t count forced vaginal penetration by a female perpetrator.

“Made to penetrate,” as they clumsily call it, didn’t count as “rape,” and I must wholeheartedly disagree.

In my mind, I have defined rape as when the genitals, anus, or mouth was penetrated by or comes into contact with another’s genitals, anus, mouth, or object. I saw it as going both ways, as this would included female perpetrated rape onto a male and forced cunnilingus as rape.

Although I’ve already changed much of the language on this site to reflect gender neutrality when discussing both victims and perpetrators,  please be patient while I update the rest and accept my apology for being misinformed.

I still, however, hold that squabbling over gender pronouns when discussing the overall epidemic of rape is highly derailing to the topic at hand. Please show patience and compassion when people are catching up with the new information and trying to alter the way they speak to incorporate gender neutrality. If someone defaults to “he” as perpetrator and “she” as victim, allow the conversation to continue about rape and sexual assault without forcing the conversation to be about gender binary pronouns. When you contribute to the conversation, use the pronouns relevant to your experience or gender neutral. By shouting “women rape, too,” does no one any good. However, if you say, “Amy raped my friend Sam, and he had a difficult time because of cultural misunderstandings about how a man can be raped on top of all this rape culture stuff,” you gently remind those engaged in the discussion that women also rape, obviously more than previously thought, and you don’t derail the conversation from the subject at hand.

Here are a few articles that I’ve recently come across:

The Word You Are Searching for Is Rape

When Men Are Raped

The Hard Truth About Girl-on-Guy Rape

The Sexual Victimization of Men in America: New Data Challenge Old Assumptions

Male Sexual Assault – RAINN

-_Q

Olivia M. Grey lives in the cobwebbed corners of her mind writing paranormal romance with a Steampunk twist, like the Amazon Gothic Romance bestseller Avalon Revisited and it’s sequel, of sorts, Avalon Revamped. Her short stories and poetry have been published in various magazines and anthologies, like SNM Horror Magazine and How the West Was Wicked. Ms. Grey also blogs and podcasts relationship essays covering such topics as alternative lifestyles, deepening intimacy, ending a relationship with love and respect, and other deliciously dark and decadent matters of the heart and soul.

Read more by O. M. Grey on her blog Caught in the Cogs, http://omgrey.wordpress.com

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We Question the Accused…

Over the past day or so, there has been a maelstrom over on a Steampunk World’s Fair FB Group regarding their harassment policy. As is the case in so many of these online interactions, the discussion is dominated by about a dozen people who are spouting The Great Derailers, grossly exaggerating the myriad of remote possibilities of abusing the policy while undermining the important intention behind it, and spreading general fear mongering. Some are even using bully techniques of mocking well-intentioned statements meant to make the victimized feel safer in cases of sexual violence and nitpicking minor semantic issues by using straw man and slippery slope rhetoric.

In the middle of these comments about the wording of the SPWF’s Harassment Policy (which the organizers have said repeatedly is a living document, and they are open to revising it for further clarification) are accusations that The Order of the White Feather is guilty of vigilantism. These handful of people claim the OWF is a vigilante group because of these two things:

  1. We believe the victim. We question the accused.
  2. The language around social ostracism for unrepentant rapists and perpetrators of other sexual violence

Some of the comments read as if they think the OWF will have a group of people goose-stepping and waving white feathers who corner and interrogate someone accused of flirting inappropriately under a swinging light bulb in a darkened room, so please allow me to explain further what’s meant by the phrase “We Question the Accused” to clarify this obvious misconception.

Before I go any further, let me make something very, very clear: the OWF is concerned about sexual violence, especially assault and rape. Sexual harassment falls under the spectrum that is sexual violence, and we certainly are concerned about that as well, but the language on this site about ostracism of the unrepentant accused is talking about Sexual Assault and Rape, not botched flirting or taking a photograph without permission. The OWF has no official capacity at SPWF. I’m an invited guest speaker and author who will present on rape culture and hold a white feather creative workshop for those who choose to support our mission. Nothing more. Insinuations that we’ll be policing the event and accosting every accused are both absurd and offensive.

Now that that’s cleared up, I’ll move on to the clarification.

First and foremost, we believe the victim. The traumatized. The person who has been harmed. We believe that they have been hurt by a certain action or behavior. They can come to us because they know they’re safe in doing so. They will be believed. They will not be questioned about details. They will not be forced to justify or explain themselves if they’re not comfortable doing so. We will take them at their word that they feel hurt and/or traumatized without making them “prove” it.

As a culture what we do now is hammer the hurt party with questions. We vow not to do that. Period.

**IF** any questions are asked, they will be asked of the accused. Questions like “What happened?”

Personally, I have no interest in questioning accused rapists or perpetrators of sexual violence or even misogynistic harassers. None whatsoever. I’d rather not have them in my life in any way, shape, or form. When I say “We Question the Accused,” it’s more to emphasize that we DON’T question the traumatized. If, for example, a group of friends had one of their friends come up and say Fred raped her. These friends would believe the accused felt violated and would not ask her for details or justification. As stated on this page, the only question asked to the hurt party is “What would you like to do next?” or “Do you want to  make an official report?” If this group of friends wants more information on what their other friend, Fred, did or what happened, they ask Fred. That’s what I mean by “We Question the Accused.”

Remember, these pages were written with Sexual Assault and Rape in mind.

So, before you go jumping to conclusions after reading eight words, read more about how to talk with the hurt party and inform yourselves about the accountability process we’re proposing for the accused.

No, we weren’t there. We won’t even know what *actually* happened in that room. What’s relevant is that this wo/man before you, vulnerable and scared, has been deeply traumatized.

You have a choice:
A. You can either further traumatize her by not believing her, by asking victim-blaming questions/comments like “why where you there?” “that wasn’t really rape” “that’s a very serious accusation!”, or
B. You can start the healing by saying, “I’m so sorry that happened to you. I believe you. What would you like to do next? I’m here for as much or as little as you’d like to share. You’re in control. I believe you.”

Number next, re: ostracism.

I have a difficult time with people screaming about ostracism and how wrong and unfair and such it all is because these are the same kind of comments and people who ostracized me and other survivors of sexual violence.

Allow me to quote the great Thomas Millar once again (from the must-read “Cockblocking Rapists is a Moral Obligation, or How to Stop Rape Right Now“):

Some people will say that’s rumormongering.  Yes.  Yes, it is.  If stopping rape isn’t a good enough reason to spread rumors to you, then you and I have nothing further to discuss.

Some people will say that it’s unfair to do that, to simply take the survivor’s word, to say things about people without due process.  Well, due process is for the government, to limit their power to lock people up or take their property.  You don’t owe people due process when you decide whether to be friends with them.  You don’t have to have a hearing and invite them to bring a lawyer to decide whether to invite them to a party.  And let’s be honest, most of us repeat things that one person we know did to another person we know based on nothing more than that one participant told us and we believe them.We do it all the time, it’s part of social interaction. (emphasis mine)

All those people who were calling me and the OWF a vigilante group has already done this. They’ve decided, based on very, very little information, indeed, how to socially respond to me and this group. I’ve decided, based also on very, very little information (namely their aggressive comments) that I have absolutely no interest in being friends or even knowing them.

We do that EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. in our communities. That’s ostracism, isn’t it? That’s saying, “you’re not welcome in my circle.”

Now, just imagine the safe places we could create if we used this daily social interaction to ostracize rapists, assholes, bullies, and other horrible people instead of what’s happening now: ostracizing the traumatized and the few who support them all because they’re showing us a painful truth of our culture.

Huh. Imagine that.

As for the Steampunk World’s Fair, they have my complete and unwavering support for their continuing efforts to make the Steampunk Community safer for everyone. Their policy is a strong one, and a strong harassment policy is needed, as confirmed by the very impressive John Scalzi. It comes down to whether or not you trust the organizers to be rational and fair, which I do. For those threatening not to attend SPWF because of the policy, I say it’s a safer event without you there…which means, it will be much, much more fun.

-_Q

Olivia M. Grey lives in the cobwebbed corners of her mind writing paranormal romance with a Steampunk twist, like the Amazon Gothic Romance bestseller Avalon Revisited and it’s sequel, of sorts, Avalon Revamped. Her short stories and poetry have been published in various magazines and anthologies, like SNM Horror Magazine and How the West Was Wicked. Ms. Grey also blogs and podcasts relationship essays covering such topics as alternative lifestyles, deepening intimacy, ending a relationship with love and respect, and other deliciously dark and decadent matters of the heart and soul.

Read more by O. M. Grey on her blog Caught in the Cogs, http://omgrey.wordpress.com

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Filed under Community Response, Rape Culture, SFF Conventions

AnachroCon Controversy

Two weeks ago, one of my dearest friends called me to tell me this article was coming out the following week. I listened with compassion and solidarity as he told me that he was DONE. No more. Finit. Enough of this sexual harassment/assault bullshit in our convention spaces. This time the target was a close friend of his, and the (alleged) assailant, the husband of his cherished colleague.

Here’s an excerpt:

AnachroCon 2014, held February 14-16, at the Atlanta Marriott Perimeter Center, announced last week via Facebook that one of its founding members and co-chairmen William MacLeod would be leaving the con. In his original message (dated Tuesday February 18th) he stated, “The Army finally took its toll on me…. After 6 years as Chairman of AnachroCon, I (William MacLeod) am stepping down and turning convention operations over to my beloved co-chair Cindy so that I may focus on medical issues that have begun to plague me even more over the years.”

However, in the two days leading up to William MacLeod’s announcement, accusations surfaced that a member of the con staff allegedly received inappropriate and unwanted verbal and physical advances from the co-chairman. The staffer, who asked not to be named publically but was interviewed at length by a member of the Steampunk Chronicle staff, states that William MacLeod made repeated offers of sex over the weekend and fondled her at the most recent convention. According to the staffer, this was not the first time he had inappropriately touched her, and she alleges a pattern of such behavior going back several years.

A Troubled History

SpC has uncovered a string of allegations against William MacLeod, including a related sexual harassment allegation in the resignation letter of a former AnachroCon Senior Director of Promotions, Dan Carroll, who cited MacLeod’s behavior toward female members of Carroll’s staff. Carroll stated this week, “I resigned from AnachroCon because of the completely inappropriate treatment of women by the Chairman. All of the women who worked under me at the convention had asked me to address the issue. He did not seem to take these concerns seriously. It was my understanding he had taken steps to seek treatment and was working on the problem.” Carroll resigned in 2011. According to Cindy MacLeod, at the time of Dan Carroll’s resignation, AnachroCon, was not as well organized and they were still running it as a “private party.” There was no formal investigation.

A more recent departure was that of Megan Maude, director of the Fashion Track. She alleges that the problem of harassment has been pervasive at the con for a number years.  In a statement to Steampunk Chronicle, she said, “Predatory behavior was being tolerated and even encouraged by the chairman and his friends… I explained my many concerns about the safety of women at the con to Strobel [Charles Strobel, the Director of Programing and Anachrocon LLC Board of Directors member]… There was even talk of having a woman on staff whose only job would be to handle sexual harassment reports…[but nothing changed]… I genuinely don’t feel that I can safely invite any of my younger girlfriends to the con. I don’t want to tell a bunch of girls in their early to mid 20s to come to an event where I’m genuinely afraid they will be sexually assaulted.”

MacLeod has a long (alleged) history of harassing and assaulting women at his convention. Unfortunate for each of his subsequent targets over the years, no one did a thing about it before now.

Additionally, this man MacLeod supposedly spoke quite loudly for the “Cosplay is not Consent” campaign, which doesn’t surprise me in the least. As I’ve said countless times on this blog, offenders have no moral qualms about hiding in feminist ranks–just as they hide in other places like spiritual and sex-positive communities.

Enough.

Enough.

Enough.

I’m so proud of my dear friend for making a stand on this topic. This is what it takes. Every time another person stands up and says NO MORE or I’M DONE and takes action, the space in which these predators and rapists can operate becomes smaller and smaller. Standing up and saying NO MORE, no matter who is accused, and revoking their social license to operate will stop these predators from operating in our spaces.

Let’s make our convention spaces and communities safe for everyone, except those who perpetrate violence, especially sexualized violence. A good start for conventions is to have a response policy in place and posted publicly on its website, distributed in its literature, and announced at opening ceremonies. Join John Scalzi in boycotting events that do not take sexual harassment and assault seriously enough to have an action plan in place.

Join me in boycotting these events and events who continue to schedule known rapists as their musical guest and Guest of Honor (SteamCon & Wild Wild West Con, specifically), and let them know why you won’t go.

Support conventions who refuse to book known assailants like The Steampunk World’s Fair and AnomalyCon.

Read the entire fascinating article on MacLeod and the AnachroCon Controversy in The Steampunk Chronicle.

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Filed under Community Response, Rape Culture, SFF Conventions

Oppressed Majority

Powerful video.

Brilliant, really.

“Oppressed majority” takes place in an alternate reality where women jog half naked and work while the men take care of the kids and endure daily sexual harassment….The short film, in French and directed by Éléonore Pourriat, shows a father taking his kid to kindergarten and going through the rest of his day facing catcalls, sexist remarks, sexual assault, and contempt. (Source)

From the experience on the street to the way the father was treated by the police and his partner…it’s all extremely accurate to how women are treated daily. By flipping the gender to men, we start to see just how damaging such behavior is and the absurdity in putting up with it (and perpetuating it).

Pay attention to what comes up in your thoughts as you watch it. You’ll see how deeply ingrained rape culture truly is in all of us.

May you find peace.

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Filed under Misogyny, Objectification, Rape Culture

I’m Taking Responsibility for Being Raped

A courageous woman named Coco Jones was the first to say it. She’s right. It’s all our fault. I’ve been in serious denial this entire time. All those people who said I needed to take some responsibility for what happened to me, here it is. My apologies to the neutral third parties who violated me, as it was completely my fault for being in the same room with you and trusting you. I’ve seen the error of my predator-blaming ways, and I apologize.

You truly must read the entire post, “I’m Taking Responsibility for Getting Raped,” but here are a few excerpts of things I’m particularly guilty of:

  1. I let people in my life. I have relationships and friendships. I allow them in my home, I eat food they prepare for me without watching them cook it. I open the door when I am alone. I leave the house by myself to meet them places. I even let my partner tie me up and believe he won’t rape me on MERE TRUST.

I see now that it was truly my fault to be alone with my boyfriend, with whom I had had great sex with before I let myself get raped. He had told me he loved me and adored me so many times that I just really let my guard down. It’s really my fault that I didn’t push him away forcefully enough. Same goes with The Musician, silly of me to trust a colleague. My goodness, I’ve just let myself be a victim left and right.

I’ve learned a great lesson here. To not get myself raped or betrayed or discarded, I truly need to stop letting anyone in my life. Even therapists. No more friends. I’ll lock myself away in my room with my dog and cat, because then I’ll be safe. Indeed. Even my husband after 15 years together…one never knows. So, here is my first mistake. No doubt.

  1. I dress like a fucking slut. No, really. I wear clothes that touch my body. I have hair. Sometimes it is up, sometimes I wear it down. I accentuate my eyes and lips with make-up. I go out in the world like this. Regularly.
  1. My reflexes are not cat-like. If you throw something at me, it will hit me. I will not deflect it with a sudden, practiced movement. Things can catch my by surprise and I am not always ready for them. I should be sharpening my instincts daily. Instead I forget to because I’m usually doing something less important.

Me, too. I’ve made these same mistakes. In fact, I’ve got clothes on right now that touch my skin. I had better change before I go to the post office. I haven’t put make-up on yet, but I did already fix my hair. Maybe a bulky hat will help.

Additionally, I have an open heart and a tendency to believe people at their word, especially friends, colleagues, and lovers (the roles of the three men who violated me between 2010 & 2012). Foolish and careless of me, really.

In fact, I’m convinced that the only reason I haven’t been sexually assaulted since 2012 is that I have kept myself so isolated. I see no one other than my husband and therapist, which turns out was a waste of time and money for trauma recovery. All I ever needed to do was accept responsibility for the sexual violations. I do now, and how. I see the error of my ways. As long as I stay locked away in my house, venturing out only for Starbucks and to go to the movies alone (as long as I’m dressed properly), I should remain safe.

Good plan.

Just think, for nearly two years I’ve been saying how the rapist is responsible for choosing to rape and the communities for making excuses and embracing said rapists (ooops, neutral third parties, I mean) at their parties and conventions, when all along it’s been my fault. Huh.

Yep. I got myself raped, too.

Please read the post by the courageous woman who has just freed all of us “survivors” from years of recovery. We have nothing to recover from, as it was all our fault. Let’s start practicing victim flagging and rapist apology across the board. Let’s show sympathy for those poor neutral third parties who get labeled “rapist” for merely having nonconsensual sex and purposely blowing boundaries. It’s not their responsibility, after all.

Have some compassion!

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Quite Clear Lines

I’ve had more than one heated, triggering discussion about the lyrics of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” and mostly what I hear just before I completely disengage from the discussion in self preservation is rape apologia, victim-blaming, and other such rape culture rhetoric.

An amazing person by the name of Sezin Koehler put together this undeniable proof that “Blurred Lines” not only promotes rape culture, it also attempts to normalize rape. In fact, his lyrics are things that repeatedly come out of real-life rapists’ mouths, as shown by selections from Project Unbreakable. There is absolutely nothing blurry about these lines. What Thicke sings about is coercive rape, period.

The following is a long excerpt, but please visit the source for the entire comparison, as well as the very eye-opening and highly disturbing comments that illustrate our rape culture more than anything else.

Robin Thicke’s summer hit Blurred Lines addresses what he considers to be sounds like a grey area between consensual sex and assault. The images in this post place the song into a real-life context.  They are from Project Unbreakable, an online photo essay exhibit, and feature images of women and men holding signs with sentences that their rapist said before, during, or after their assault.   Let’s begin.

I know you want it.

Thicke sings “I know you want it,” a phrase that many sexual assault survivors report their rapists saying to justify their actions, as demonstrated over and over in the Project Unbreakable testimonials.

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You’re a good girl.

Thicke further sings “You’re a good girl,” suggesting that a good girl won’t show her reciprocal desire (if it exists). This becomes further proof in his mind that she wants sex: for good girls, silence is consent and “no” really means “yes.”

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Calling an adult a “good girl” in this context resonates with the the virgin/whore dichotomy. The implication in Blurred Lines is that because the woman is not responding to a man’s sexual advances, which of course are irresistible, she’s hiding her true sexual desire under a facade of disinterest. Thicke is singing about forcing a woman to perform both the good girl and bad girl roles in order to satisfy the man’s desires.

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Thicke and company, as all-knowing patriarchs, will give her what he knows she wants (sex), even though she’s not actively consenting, and she may well be rejecting the man outright.

 

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Do it like it hurt, do it like it hurt, what you don’t like work?

This lyric suggests that women are supposed to enjoy pain during sex or that pain is part of sex:

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The woman’s desires play no part in this scenario – except insofar as he projects whatever he pleases onto her — another parallel to the act of rape: sexual assault is generally not about sex, but rather about a physical and emotional demonstration of power.

The way you grab me.
Must wanna get nasty.

This is victim-blaming.  Everybody knows that if a woman dances with a man it means she wants to sleep with him, right? And if she wears a short skirt or tight dress she’s asking for it, right? And if she even smiles at him it means she wants it, right?  Wrong.  A dance, an outfit, a smile — sexy or not — does not indicate consent.  This idea, though, is pervasive and believed by rapists.

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And women, according to Blurred Lines, want to be treated badly.

Nothing like your last guy, he too square for you.
He don’t smack your ass and pull your hair like that.

In this misogynistic fantasy, a woman doesn’t want a “square” who’ll treat her like a human being and with respect. She would rather be degraded and abused for a man’s gratification and amusement, like the women who dance around half naked humping dead animals in the music video.

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The pièce de résistance of the non-censored version of Blurred Lines is this lyric:

I’ll give you something to tear your ass in two.

What better way to show a woman who’s in charge than violent, non-consensual sodomy?

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Ultimately, Robin Thicke’s rape anthem is about male desire and male dominance over a woman’s personal sexual agency. The rigid definition of masculinity makes the man unable to accept the idea that sometimes his advances are not welcome. Thus, instead of treating a woman like a human being and respecting her subjectivity, she’s relegated to the role of living sex doll whose existence is naught but for the pleasure of a man.

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Filed under Misogyny, Rape Culture

Redefining Masculinity

Excerpts from “Please Be That Guy! 7 Men Who Are Transforming Masculinity

Lately I’ve been seeing a pattern.  More and more men are standing up to misogyny, to sexual violence, to street harassment, to victim blaming, to rape apologia, to sexism.

Despite the noise created by the idiocy in the Men’s Rights Movement, a tide is shifting.

On every college campus and in every high school where I work, I meet young men who are passionate about creating a different masculinity.

In short, there are men who are acting like this:

Jamie Utt over at Change from Within goes on to spotlight seven amazing men who are speaking out loudly about domestic violence and rape. Darnell Moore, Fivel Rothberg, Kai M. Green, Emiliano Diaz de Leon, Jackson Katz, Jeff Perera, and Carlos Andres Gomez. Read the piece. Watch the inspirational videos. See once and for all that every time I or another feminist or anyone speaks out against men who commit violent acts against women, we are not ever, ever saying “all men are like that.” That’s something others put into our mouths to derail the important conversation.

Whether we’re talking about famous poets or intellectuals or our fathers or classmates, it’s time we start lifting up the brothers who are calling for a different masculinity, a more inclusive masculinity, a more non-violent masculinity.

Take this as a call to action.  Take some time to thank a man who you’ve seen do something, whether big or little, to build a better masculinity.

Read the entire article and watch all the videos at Change from Within.

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