Tag Archives: degrading

Why So Many Victims Don’t Report

When I first read “When I Didn’t Consent. Why I reported. Why I didn’t” by Elyse MoFo Anders, I cried. Then I got angry. Then I cried again. So much of her story is familiar to me and to virtually every other woman and survivor of sexualized violence.

Entitled, exploitative, and/or abusive sexual encounters with smug, manipulative people. Misconceptions about what rape is “supposed to look like.” Betrayed and raped by someone you trust. Dismissive and humiliating treatment by the police. Insensitive community response. Losing all your friends and descending into insanity because no one believes you. Coercion and self-blame perpetuated by our culture.

This must change.

Excerpts:

I was raped. I reported it. I was raped. I didn’t report it. I was raped. I reported it but I didn’t press charges. I was raped. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do so I told myself that I wasn’t raped.

But I was. I was raped.

We have these conversations about rape, conversations that always include a question of “Was the rape reported to the police?” Women are taught that when they get raped, it is our duty to report it. We are obligated to press charges. We must crusade for justice. If the rapist is a real rapist, and he raped someone, it the victim’s duty to stop him.

And we think we know what rape looks like. We know there’s bushes or drinks involved. There’s kicking and screaming… or unconsciousness… and the word “NO!” can be heard from the next room or by passersby. And there’s crying. Crying during. Crying after. So. much. crying. And there’s blood. At least SOME blood.

And we know what to do when you know you’re being raped. If there’s a weapon, you don’t fight. If there’s no weapon, you do. And you make sure you scratch him to get his DNA under your nails. And you don’t shower. And you don’t change. And you go to the hospital. Right away. You’d be irresponsible to wash away evidence.

Even though women put a lot of effort into not getting themselves raped, we already have the script written. We have a plan. We know how we’ll handle it when someone finally thwarts our attempts to get through the night un-raped.

Funny thing about rape, though, is that sometimes your rapist doesn’t match what you thought your rapist would look like. Sometimes central casting sends in dudes that don’t match the type you were already planning to get raped by. And sometimes these guys go off script, ad libbing lines and their timing is off and sometimes it’s the script is edited so much, you didn’t even recognize that this was Your Rape because NONE of the shit that just went down was part of the original plan…

…And despite the incident not following my script for how my rape would go down, it follows a pretty standard template. Drunk -> assaulted -> reported -> not believed -> no investigation -> dismissed…

…(from the section “One time I convinced myself I had a choice” when she was doing a modeling internship with a photographer) One day, while his wife was at her office job, the photographer and I were in the dark room, like we’d done every day. And suddenly, he was behind me, hand down my pants, finger in my vulva. I froze. I didn’t know what to do. So I stood there. I didn’t want to get hurt, so I didn’t fight. But I didn’t want to give the impression that this was enjoyable. I shut down.

Later that night, he had a talk with me about how my behavior in the dark room was unacceptable. He was giving me a pleasurable experience and I was refusing it.

I explained to the man over three times my age that I was not really comfortable with such surprises and that I need time to warm up to intimate encounters since I’d been raped in the past.

He told me that wasn’t fair. He wasn’t a rapist. And I needed to learn to live in the now. “How long are you going to let this keep you down? If you can’t get over this, you’re never going to have a successful career.”…

…(from the section “The time I said no then said yes,” i. e. coercive rape) I was in high school. It wasn’t like “no means no” hadn’t been drilled into my head for years. I knew what rape was. I knew it was awful. I knew it was never the woman’s fault and skirts don’t matter. I knew the talking points. I read Sassy. I was kind of a feminist, even if I didn’t know that I was.

So when I look back at this thing, it’s a little heartbreaking for me. I was well educated on the subject. And I didn’t get what happened. What happens to girls who don’t grow up in affluent progressive schools that promote feminist ideals and encourage girls to find their feminist bearings? Girls who have sex ed every year? Girls who are taught that consent matters? I didn’t call it rape for over 15 years. Even though, immediately, I knew it was, but convinced myself it wasn’t. At worst, I decided, there were some blurred lines.

I was on a date with a guy I met at a coffee shop. I don’t remember where we went or what we did or what is name was.

But at the end of the date, we went back to his house to watch TV. And things progressed.

Once we started fooling around, he got weird. Silent. Not just silent, but non-responsive to anything I said or wanted. If I said no to something, he kept going. I said no repeatedly, but he kept going. I was having trouble processing what was happening. I kept telling him no, but why wasn’t he getting that? I was confused more than scared. I didn’t know what to do.

Coercive rape has accounted for experiences with about 1/3 of my sexual partners. I never considered it rape until recently because, well, it is rape. I remember when I was in my teens and 20s saying no over and over again for hours and finally saying “yes” because I was afraid if I didn’t say “yes” he’d rape me. Turns out…

No Means No, but even more accurate: ONLY AN ENTHUSIASTIC YES MEANS YES. Not a coerced yes. Not a yes through tears or intimidation or fear. Not a drunken yes.

Learn this people.

Please read the entire article here. This victim-blaming has to stop. We–as a community and a culture–need to give the benefit of the doubt to the victim and question the accused. Only we can make sure victims who come forward are taken seriously. By doing so, we revoke the rapists’ social license to operate.

Let’s stop this.

-_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 newly released 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, Misogyny, Objectification, Rape Culture

“I Am A False Rape Allegation Statistic”

My heart broke all over again when I read this post by Stephanie Zvan. Just when I think I can no longer be surprised by the callousness of the police, I read something like this. I’m utterly astounded that these police can get away with making this woman act out her rape with one of the officers playing the rapist. How is that not sexual assault on its own?

Also when I read things like this, I feel less alone and darkly lucky, in a way. The assaults I endured and reported didn’t have physical evidence like Stephanie’s did. They were all by people I knew and trusted and even loved. Mine were not the “stereotypical rape” that everyone pictures when they hear the word rape. Stepanie’s was. Horrific and violence by a stranger. Loads of physical evidence (“deep tissue bruising on my arms, burns on my labia, tearing that went from my vagina to my anus”)…and even with all that, this is how she was treated. This is how she was bullied into recanting, forcing her, like so many others, to become a false rape allegation statistic. It’s also a prime example of how people who suffer from a type of mental illness are stigmatized and blamed for their own victimization.

Here’s an excerpt:

Over the next few months, I submitted to multiple, horrific “interviews” that really felt like “interrogations” as time went on. I was also dealing with a serious medical condition at the time (I almost died; my intestines ruptured, but was almost certainly not a result of the rape, just bad timing). But I still believed in the system. I still didn’t want the man who raped me on the streets. I did everything they requested, answered every invasive question (the were really focused on my mental health history!), even got on the ground and acted out the rape for them, with the head detective on top of me acting out the part of the rapist. Not only was I absolutely hysterical by the time we were done, I’m positive that aggravated my PTSD for a long time after.

And after all that, I was called in for an “interview” to discuss “a new lead in your case”. They didn’t let my rape counselor in the room–again, against the law, I found out later! For about an hour (I think; my sense of time was not that great) they were no longer even pretending to be supportive. They accused me over and over of making it up. They had very flimsy “evidence” (which I won’t go into because it’s both complicated and ridiculous) but mostly it was their “instinct”.

Because I have a mental illness. Because I was hospitalized after attempting suicide. Because I “claimed” I had been sexually assaulted in the past. Because I was crazy, and he was sure I was just looking for attention. He had a bipolar ex-wife, you see, and she made his life a living hell. He told me how he understood mentally ill women, and how we need to create drama. How we’re liars, and we crave attention.

And over and over they accused me of lying. Alone in this tiny room with two large, angry men, I was doing everything I could to keep from having a panic attack. I couldn’t respond to what they were saying; again, I think I was in shock. And they threatened me with jail time, with a felony on my record, destroying my family, public humiliation (he threatened to call the papers–something he did anyway, because, quote, “the community needs to know there was no threat to public safety”). They said I would be charged with a false report, with terrorizing the public (there was a public awareness campaign initially after my attack, though I didn’t have anything to do with it. After the rape, I did everything I could to maintain anonymity, and only told two people–beyond my family and the cops–hat I was attacked. But…I did it for attention, which was why I didn’t tell anyone? I’m just sneaky like that, I guess!). Accusations, threats, anger, pounding the table, over and over and over.

The detective looked at me. His whole demeanor changed; he tried to seem kind, avuncular. “Tell me you made the whole thing up. This whole thing will disappear. Nothing will happen to you. You can leave, if you just tell me you made it up. Tell me you made it up and you’re sorry for lying, and I’ll let you leave.” I tried to hold out–but I didn’t last long. Honestly, at that point, all I wanted in the entire world was just to get out of that room. There are very few things I wouldn’t have done, if I could only leave. So I looked at him and lied. I said, “I made the whole thing up. I’m sorry.”

Next time you hear someone spout the false accusation rhetoric, you can not only tell them that false accusations account for less than 2% of reported cases, but even some of that 2% has been coerced and bullied into recanting.

Please read the entirety of “I Am a False Rape Allegation Statistic” on Freethought Blogs.

-_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. 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 Misogyny, Rape Culture

Disgusting “Don’t Be That Girl” Campaign in Calgary

Not much more I can say. This speaks for itself.

Article on Global News Canada: “‘Don’t be that girl’ posters spark debate in Edmonton” — Excerpt:

Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse (CCASA) also responded to the campaign with a blog post, writing: ”This poster which has mimicked itself after the “Don’t Be That Guy” Campaign has crossed a line by using incorrect information to try to make a point that is absolutely false, inaccurate and 100% incorrect.”

“I think what their campaign is saying is that women lie about rape, about sexual assault to get back at a boyfriend,” said Karen Smith, executive director of the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton. She cited national statistics as evidence that false reports don’t actually happen as often as some people may think.

“One to two percent of sexual assaults reported to the police would be false. And that would be the same for any other crime that would be reported to the police.”

The same figure was also used by Acting Insp. Sean Armstrong of the Serious Crime Branch, which includes the Sexual Assault Section. Armstrong says that in the four and a half years he worked as a sexual assault detective, he came across only one false report.

“And I dealt with numerous files; many, many, many files. So they’re extremely rare.”

Read the rest of the article here…and read more on the myth of frequent false accusations here and here and here.

May you find peace.

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More than a Meat Market

I’ve been a yes-girl in my steampunk community for a while. Anytime I’m asked to help with something I say, “Yes. What do you need?” My talents are limited, but it turns out I have a knack for dressing well and looking cute, so more often than not my contributions are posing for a camera and letting people use the results. This year I was asked if my image could be used as a place holder for a page three girl slot in a Steampunk convention’s schedule. The schedule was meant to be in the style of an old newspaper. I said, “Yes, of course as long as it’s tasteful.” I have no qualms with using the sexual nature of humans as long as there is consent involved. However, my picture over/next to an image of a woman’s body divided into cuts of meat. The image was a very classical example of dehumanization and dismemberment (in this case implied) of women in the media. My image was sitting next to the implication that women are meat. Meat to be cut up. Meat to be consumed. At that moment I became meat and I remained meat for the rest of the convention.

Dismemberment of women in media is not a topic talked about often enough. It is so normalized that most people don’t even realize that they are looking at an image of something that was human. The image of a person becomes a part, a chunk, a piece of meat. A woman becomes her thighs, her hips, her breasts. She stops being a person. Once she is dehumanized, she becomes an item for consumption. That is what happened to me and many other women attending this convention.

I’m one of the dismembered torsos in there. I’m the black bustle and red corset with the hip twitch. My head has been cut off. My identity as a human being has been removed, and I’ve been reduced to a headless torso: a piece of meat to be consumed.

meat market

The above screenshot was my response to this offensive, dehumanizing video. I was quite displeased that my image was being used without my consent in a dismemberment, creeper-shot style video. To expand a little on the content of this video, there was a mannequin in the mix of female torsos. It is almost completely unrecognizable as such to the point that multiple people on a following thread about this video did not believe it existed. This mannequin served a wonderful purpose in this video. It served to show us that female bodies were being portrayed in such a way that the female bodies were indistinguishable from an actual object.

Later that night the video was apparently deleted after the Facebook altercation. However, instead of a graceful removal of the video with an appropriate apology for objectifying women, there was this:
“And since no one can agree on what is proper or degrading, or ugly or beautiful, dehumanizing or consenting, a proper angle or disgusting view of someone..I have removed the video…The Man who put together video has over 200 hours of video he took at the convention..Those that knew he was video taping you can see they responded by waving or pointing at the camera..the rest were area shots that he took angles and paned up on a scene sorta like scrolling on a picture..Carry on..Find something else to complain about.”

In other words, for “the rest” who did not consent, “The Man” took shots at surreptitious angles reducing human beings to headless tits, hips, and asses in a corset.

The video was removed from the convention’s FB group.

Carry on..Find something else to complain about.

The following comments were along the lines of calling me and my handful of friends who took issue with this video “trolls and haters.” There were a lot of comments about how these “trolls” and “haters” were trying to make everything fail, particularly the convention. One comment that really struck me was, “No statue, monument or plaque has ever been raised to a critic. Just sayin.”

Only they have been raised. Take a moment to think of all of your civil rights leaders. They were critics.

Just sayin’.

Beyond the dismissive nature of most of the retorts, one of the chairs of this con posted a seething post about how much work went into this with little to no pay addressing the audience as, “To All who love and enjoy Steampunk in any way.” In the same response, begging the fact the photographer that filmed this video has over 200 hours of video, he asked, “So..before you attack or put down someone elses work..take a min..think about it..Does tearing down someone’s work really do anyone any good?” He didn’t address the fact that the women in the video were hurt by this use of their sexuality without their consent all the while implying they don’t care for this scene.

So, did my public admonishment accomplish anything? Did my addressing the fact that my sexuality was being used without my consent do any good? Did pointing out that we have been reduced to objects do any good?

This is how the community responded to blatant misogyny and the objectification of community members (paraphrased):

So what?; There are boobs in corsets; This was about the corsets; There were some faces shown; This is clearly just about consent to use faces; Anyone who is uncomfortable with boobs and bustles is going to have a hard time in the Steampunk community; This is art. People can do whatever they want with their art.

Overwhelmingly dismissive.

My body and sexuality were exploited in a way that reduced me to sexually objectified body parts ready for consumption. “Who cares?” the community asks.

I care.

And I am using my voice to say that this isn’t okay. For speaking out against this blatant disregard for consent and sexual objectification of women in my community,  I am getting dismissive, angry backlash.

Women who speak out against sexualized violence get backlash. Jackson Katz in The Macho Paradox says, “Women who dare to break the customary female silence about gender violence are often reminded that there is a price to pay for their boldness. They certainly run the risk of evoking men’s hostility and anger, because to challenge men’s right to control women is to threaten men who see such control as their birthright.”

Right now, in my immediate community, the discussion of how we portray women’s bodies continues. My “tearing down” someone’s work accomplished that. And while the men in charge may not be comfortable, angry even, with this discussion, I won’t be silenced.

I will never be silent again.

So, my request to you is: Carry On. Find Something Else to Complain About.

Don’t stop until misogyny is no longer a problem in our community. I know I won’t.

-_Q

Jenny Choate is a recent University of Michigan graduate. She spends a lot of time playing table top role playing games, larping,or participating in her Steampunk community. The rest of her time is spent reading up on feminist world issues. She is a no wave, intersectionalist, radical feminist.

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Filed under Misogyny, Objectification, Rape Culture, SFF Conventions