Tag Archives: sexual assault

Still Think It Doesn’t Exist?

The following are some Facebook responses to this graphic. Thank to notemily and jhameia on Tumblr for this.

This is rape culture.

As long as we tolerate this behavior, it will continue. A woman is raped in the USA every two minutes.

This is largely why.

I read a great quote yesterday. I’ll paraphrase: Many people love to say that feminists think all men are rapists, but they don’t. You know who does think all men are rapists?

Rapists.

Every time you let a comment like this slide, or laugh at these kinds of comments–or a rape joke, or make excuses that they’re just being trolls or aren’t serious or whatever-other-rape-apologia-rhetoric, you are validating rapists. You are telling the rapists that it’s okay to rape, that all men are rapists, really.

Stop accepting this behavior. Don’t excuse it. Don’t explain it.

Make it completely unacceptable. Shun friends over it. Speak up against misogyny.

Please, don’t validate rapists.

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Misogyny Defined

reut-miso-e1350497963883The meaning of the word “misogyny” is literally “hatred of women.” Although that is the actual definition of the word, most misogynists think they love women. Misogyny usually manifests less as overt hatred and more as a general belief that men are better than women. They objectify women, belittle women, and control women.

The results of misogyny are rape, abuse, murder, lower pay, less opportunity, general discrimination and loss of power, restrictive gender roles, and more.

In it’s most basic form, it’s treating women as if their purpose on earth was for male pleasure and service, whether sexual, social, or professional. “Smile, sweetheart. You look so much prettier when you smile” is an example of every day misogyny, where the man is saying this to a strange woman on the street, suggesting that her very existence is to look pretty for him. He doesn’t take into consideration that her mother might have just died or she’s going through a divorce or struggling with a disease or a million other things that humans deal with. He interrupts her world to tell her to smile. It’s offensive.

This is an example of where he genuinely thinks he’s doing a nice thing, but the underlying cultural meaning is much deeper. He doesn’t realize it and she likely doesn’t either. It’s perpetuating the cultural understanding that women are supposed to be pretty and sexy and fuckable for men. Just look at any magazine on the shelves to see this. All those horrible star magazines about who’s fat and flabby in their swimsuits…they’re all women. They’re not showing men with beer bellies, they’re showing celebrity women aging or without their normal airbrushed perfection, and they’re mocking them for it.

The “smile, sweetheart” is a basic example, but the same intentions (whether conscious or not) are behind men who shout, “nice tits” or “I’d tap that” or the like at women on the street. It’s called street harassment.

As for the over-sexualization of women in our culture…It’s halloween, just look at the difference between the male costumes and the female costumes.

These are cultural examples. Both men and women perpetuate misogyny and rape culture without even knowing it. This is why it’s so important to talk about it and make people aware. Because, for the worst men, all of this gives them social license to continue more overt forms of misogyny, like abuse and rape. And they’ll get away with it, too. Most of them. 97% of rapists get away with it. Only 3% ever see even a single day in jail. Only 14% ever even see a trial.

Think about how the media handled the Steubenville Rape Case, where they lamented how those poor, poor rapists’ lives were ruined by that vindictive bitch. That is the mentality of the culture. Women rarely lie about rape, about 1.5-2% lie. That’s less than other false crime accusations, like theft or whatever, which are around 8%. What happened in Steubenville happens every weekend and hundreds of high schools around the country. That one just got some media attention. 600+ women are raped every single day.

Back to misogyny, “dizzy broad” “she must be on her period” “she’s overreacting” are all examples of every day misogyny. Shortly after we got Buster, our new dog, he got out one day we were away. Some guy found him and called the number on Buster’s tag. I thanked him over and over and went to pick Buster up. The guy wasn’t there when I did, but his father was. I thanked the father again, and he said I should thank his son, since it was he who found him and put Buster in the yard to keep him safe. So I did. I texted the sone and said I couldn’t express the depth of my gratitude. He responded, “I can think of a few ways. You sounded hot over the phone. I’d like to see if I’m right.”

I was flabbergasted! He turned my gratitude for doing a decent thing into sexualized debt. Since I’m already a survivor of rape, I was terrified because he knew my address. I called the police to report it just in case it escalated, and they minimized it and dismissed it (just like the police did when I reported the rape, by the way…which is why 60% of women don’t report rape).

That’s misogyny.

Other examples of misogynistic speech:

  • “Calm down. You’re too emotional.” (Classic gaslighting.)
  • “She’s a spinner!” (normally said about a very thin, petite woman)
  • “Look at those tits/that ass!” (objectification)
  • “She needs to know her place.” or “Did you put her in her place?”
  • “I’d like to get me some of that.” (objectification)
  • Any comment meaning to control a woman or tell her what to do
  • Any comment that belittles a woman to a sexual object or a collection of body parts
  • Talking about a woman as if she has no other purpose than a life support system for her vagina
  • Supporting misogynistic industries like the bulk of (notice I did not say all) porn and overtly sexualized images of women
  • Treating women as if their sole purpose for existence is for your visual or sexual pleasure
  • Suggesting that a woman was “asking for it” or “deserved it”
  • Uttering the phrase “cry rape” under any circumstances
  • Phrases like “skull fucking” and “bone smoking,” “fish taco” and “carpet muncher”
  • “This is not just about sex. There are 30 women I could call right now who will fuck me.”
  • “Nice guys finish last, awesome guys finish on her face.
  • “Why can’t you look like her?”
  • Rape or roofie jokes of any sort.
  • “You throw/run/hit like a girl.”

My father is a misogynist. A serious misogynist. He is also a generous and kind and loving man. He has little idea he’s a misogynist. He was socialized that way and he has hurt a lot of people because of it, me and my mother not withstanding. He has become more aware of it over the years, but he’s still a pretty serious misogynist. I call him on it these days. One of the hardest things for me to grasp is that someone can do horrible abusive things and they can also do wonderful, loving things. It’s complex. The struggle to understand two completely opposite things like this is called cognitive dissonance. You might have come across the term in your medical studies. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance

Saying some of the things above doesn’t necessarily make someone a misogynist, because it’s been so immersed in our culture (especially the seemingly innocuous things like ‘you throw like a girl’), but as intelligent, compassionate people, it’s up to us to challenge the underlying cultural problems with perpetuating this type of thinking and become more self aware around the language we use.

Kids are being exposed to this kind of thinking and speech every day at every turn, it’s important to understand this so boys, especially, can be taught to view women as complete human beings, not entities put on earth to please them. That’s what’s called male entitlement, and it’s running rampant on college campuses and in high schools these days.

A recent report shows that 1 in 10 adolescents (between the ages of 12 and 17) have sexually assaulted a classmate, mostly because they don’t know what they’re doing is sexual assault. Forcing someone to kiss them, grabbing someone’s ass or breasts, snapping a bra strap, those are all instances of unwanted sexual contact; i. e. sexual assault. Having sex with someone too drunk to consent is rape. People can say “No Means No” until they’re blue in the face, but when a wo/man says no and the other doesn’t stop but continues pushing pushing pushing past hours of NO until they finally get a yet, that’s coercive rape. It’s not a yes. It’s a coerced yes. If s/he says no. Stop. Period.

We must start teaching enthusiastic consent to where it’s not a “yes” mumbled through fear or tears or coercion, it’s a YES! YES! YES! said either through their lips or their actions. It’s a beautiful dance for two people to come together in this way. No coercion. No begging or breaking down barriers. Enthusiastic consent only, then there is no question. We must start to teach our sons and daughters that sex isn’t something a man pursues at all costs and women are not the gatekeepers. Sex is something two adults choose to do together an expression of love and/or desire for one another. It is not a power tool. It is not a duty or something owed. A woman is not an ejaculatory machine to be discarded after use. We must teach respect.

Just think:

“What’s the worst possible thing you can call a woman? Don’t hold back, now. You’re probably thinking of words like slut, whore, bitch, cunt, skank. Okay, now, what are the worst things you can call a guy? Fag, girl, bitch, pussy, I’ve even heard the term “mangina.” Notice anything? The worst thing you can call a girl is a girl. The worst thing you can call a guy is a girl. Being a woman is the ultimate insult. No tell me that’s not royally fucked up.” – Jessica Valenti, Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters

-_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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50 Shades of Evil

I refuse to read it. Millions love it, but I refuse to read it. I’ve read excerpts from it, and those excerpts have been triggering enough. The exact words my rapist said to me. Seriously. The manipulation and abuse rampant in this series disgusts me. Yes, I haven’t read the entire thing, and for good reason.

This is the first article I’ve seen that explains it well. So much fiction glorifies abusive relationship and sociopathic narcissists as “exciting” lovers. Our culture romanticizes sexual assault daily, really. From the famous soldier-kissing-nurse picture from the end of WWII (sexual assault of a stranger without her consent) to ads for a new hairdo (pictured left). This over-powerment of women despite their disinterest, this perpetuation of male entitlement over women’s bodies disgusts me to no end.

Then, we have an international bestselling glorifying and romanticizing abusive relationships. Just what we need. So many women respond to it because they’ve been socialized by our culture for decades to believe this is how “real” men act. This is what “real” romance and desire looks like. They’re justifying and minimizing their own experiences, just as we’ve all been taught to do.

I’m no different. I did it, too, for the bulk of my 44 years, up until the past 2 or 3, that is. That’s when my eyes were open. It took my best friend digitally raping me back in 2010. A trusted colleague raping me in 2011, and then my lover raping me twice in 2012 for me to see past the patriarchal propaganda. I hope it doesn’t take so much trauma for you to get it.

Excerpt:

EL James’ success comes at a time when the British ministry of the interior, the Home Office, whose remit extents to policing and criminal justice, is seeking to widen the definition of Domestic Abuse in England to include coercive control, following a series of high profile murders of women in England, in 2011 and 2012. The Criminal Justice system in the United Kingdom is slowly waking up (not fast enough for many abuse survivors, in my opinion) to the fact that the phenomenon of a man exercising coercive control , rather than physical violence, is a greater indicator of risk of a woman being murdered by her intimate partner. It is not, then, without significant irony James’ stupendously successful novels contain numerous instances of the “hero” exercising such coercive control over the heroine.

My beef with the books are not the fact they are terribly repetitive and stomach-churning “love scenes” every three pages or so. I am not calling for a ban because they are “porn” or “filth”, as many on the religious right are.  Nor am I making a value judgement per se on those who follow a  BDSM  lifestyle or who enjoy certain erotic tastes in the bedroom. Yet these books are, in every way, completely immoral.

What is particularly disturbing is that this is being presented for public entertainment and the women reading 50 Shadesare effectively being conditioned to view coercive control, one of the most dangerous and insidious forms of relationship abuse, as normal, and even something to aspire to.

Serial Abusers, whether they target children or adults, typically use grooming to create a trust that is later used to keep the Target in the sexual relationship as well as to keep them from seeking help. This is done by paying excessive attention to the Target the beginning – spending time, buying gifts, and this attention can even extend to the Target’s family and friends as a means of masking the actual intent of the actions.  50 Shades of Grey is actually a novel which describes, rather accurately (albeit unintentionally) the process of grooming of a vulnerable Target used by a serial abuser.

Grooming is a term usually used when talking about child sexual abuse, but in my view all abuse involves forms of grooming which in the relationship between an adult Abuser and an adult Target retain many of the same patterns and features.

James’ writing jumps around a bit and its not logically consistent, but let’s look at how the six stages of grooming play out in examples the 50 Shades novels. Critics quickly point to the fact that Ana’s musings read like a teenager’s diary, missing the point that this is actually a device to emphasis Ana’s innocence. Ana’s reaction of embarrassment to a couple kissing openly in an elevator, for example, indicates that Ana maybe an adult chronologically (though not by much); emotionally she is a child. The definitions of the six stages are adapted from this abuse survivors website, which focuses on child abuse, but, as I’ve said, Grooming can affect children and adults alike, and Ana is portrayed very much as a child particularly in the first two books of the Trilogy.

The author of this article goes on to show how the books follow the manipulative tactics of a serial abuser: targeting the victim, gaining the victim’s trust, fulfilling a need, isolating the target, sexualizing the relationship, and maintaining control, either by further manipulation or by force. This pattern can happen over the course of an evening or years of a relationship. The article is specifically about child grooming, but it also fits with abusive relationships of all ages.

Educate yourself on what a Sexual or Emotional Predator looks like. They are generally not the creepy guy with back social skills crouching in the shadows. They are the popular, the charming, the handsome, the talented, the leaders.

-_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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Why Cops Don’t Believe Rape Victims

This is a very interesting article, although my personal belief as to why many cops don’t believe rape victims is because I think some are protecting their own way of life. Especially growing up in Texas, most of the encounters me and my friends have had with police officers have not been positive ones. The stereotypical gay-bashing, gun-toting, tobacco-dipping, self-entitled good ol’ boy bully is pretty much on-the-money. They are bullies. Entitled bullies with serious control issues, which is why they become police officers.

Of course I know that *all* police officers aren’t like this, so please don’t bombard me with the derailing NAMALT bullshit. I never said all were. I said the bulk of those I’ve dealt with either due to speeding tickets or in reporting rape, as well as my best friend from HS being beaten up by the local police and then put in jail for being gay, all in Texas. So glad I don’t live there anymore, although the police in other states haven’t proven to be much different.

Still, back to the article: agreed, the police units across the nation have not even had basic human psychology, let alone been educated on how severely traumatized victims react. So many times I’ve heard stories how the woman wasn’t upset enough, so it must not have happened. Or, she’s far too upset, she’s “hysterical,” so she much be putting it on. However a victim of sexualized or domestic violence acts, it’s never the right amount to be believed.

The following excerpt is from “Why cops don’t believe rape victims…

When Tom Tremblay started working for the police department of Burlington, Vt., 30 years ago, he discovered that many of his fellow cops rarely believed a rape victim. This was true time after time, in dozens of cases. Tremblay could see why they were doubtful once he started interviewing the victims himself. The victims, most of them women, often had trouble recalling an attack or couldn’t give a chronological account of it. Some expressed no emotion. Others smiled or laughed as they described being assaulted. “Unlike any other crime I responded to in my career, there was always this thought that a rape report was a false report,” says Tremblay, who was an investigator in Burlington’s sex crimes unit. “I was always bothered by the fact there was this shroud of doubt.”

Tremblay felt sex assault victims were telling the truth, and data supports his instincts: Only an estimated 2 to 8 percent of rape accusations are false, according to a survey of the literature published by the National Center for the Prosecution of Violence Against Women. Tremblay also knew the victims felt as if they were being treated like suspects, and it affected the choices they made. Surveyed about why they didn’t want to pursue a report, most victims said they worried that no one would believe them.

This is rape culture in action. It puts the burden of proving innocence on the victim, and from Steubenville, Ohio, to Notre Dame and beyond, we’ve seen it poison cases and destroy lives. But science is telling us that our suspicions of victims, the ones that seem like common sense, are flat-out baseless. A number of recent studies on neurobiology and trauma show that the ways in which the brain processes harrowing events accounts for victim behavior that often confounds cops, prosecutors, and juries.

These findings have led to a fundamental shift in the way experts who grasp the new science view the investigation of rape cases—and led them to a better method for interviewing victims. The problem is that the country’s 18,000 law enforcement agencies haven’t been converted. Or at least, most aren’t yet receiving the training to improve their own interview procedures. The exception, it turns out, is the military. Despite its many failings in sexual assault cases, it has actually been at the vanguard of translating the new research into practical tools for investigating rape.

In the past decade, neurobiology has evolved to explain why victims respond in ways that make it seem like they could be lying, even when they’re not. Using imaging technology, scientists can identify which parts of the brain are activated when a person contemplates a traumatic memory such as sexual assault. The brain’s prefrontal cortex—which is key to decision-making and memory—often becomes temporarily impaired. The amygdala, known to encode emotional experiences, begins to dominate, triggering the release of stress hormones and helping to record particular fragments of sensory information. Victims can also experience tonic immobility—a sensation of being frozen in place—or a dissociative state. These types of withdrawal result from extreme fear yet often make it appear as if the victim did not resist the assault.

The most common reaction to rape, or any horrific assault, it to freeze. Not to fight. To freeze. Any amount of research into PTSD will show you that. Now, when will this knowledge start getting out to the public and the police? It starts with you.

Read the entire article here.

-_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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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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Taking Statutory Rape Seriously

From the Yes Means Yes Blog: “Taking Statutory Rape Seriously.” Among many other things in this article, Thomas (my hero) once again explains how COMMUNITY RESPONSE is the key to stopping rapists and other such sex offenders and predators. When we as a society make it unacceptable, the laws we currently have in place will be upheld…and newer, stronger laws will be made.

Excerpt:

Imagine the following rape statute: “If a person over the age of twenty-one years has sexual contact constituting oral-genital or genital-genital contact with a minor under the age of fourteen years, such person shall be guilty of a Class A felony and shall be imprisoned for life without the possibility of parole.”

If the legislature passed it, it still wouldn’t happen.  Law does not exist in the abstract.  Law is a power structure, something that operates in a culture and operates largely consistent with the society’s values.  Lots of people in the process, from parents to school administrators and counselors to cops to prosecutors and judges to juries would collude to make sure that a statute like that would not work the way it is written — it would for some people, who didn’t meet societal approval, but it wouldn’t for others, who do.  Just like the “war on drugs”.  And the reason is that no matter how much lip service we pay to the notion that statutory rape is wrong, our culture (I’m speaking very broadly here, meaning the entirety of the world that is governed by a criminal justice system in the Anglo-American tradition) doesn’t really think that adults having sex with children are always wrong.

Just look at this shit.

Think this is an isolated event?  All these people signed a petition in support of Roman Polaski, maybe the world’s most famous child rapist.  And Whoopi Goldberg, defending him, said it wasn’t “rape-rape.”  You know where she was going with that?  That what he pleaded guilty to was statutory rape, which she thinks isn’t real rape.  (And she pointedly ignores that the woman Polanski raped told the Grand Jury and everyone who asked since that she said “no,” that he drugged her, that she still said no, and that he forced her.)  Even the term “statutory rape” conveys the impression that it isn’t “real rape” –after all, there’s a statute outlawing the conduct that is forcible rape, whatever it is called in each jurisdiction, so those are just as statutory as laws saying that fucking someone under a certain age is inherently nonconsensual and illegal.  We call it by the different term in a tacit acknowledgement that it doesn’t count the same.  Why don’t we call it “child rape?”

You know what Polanski (who reportedly has other victims including Charlotte Lewis andNastassja Kinsky) had to say, to Martin Amis in a 1979 interview that has been quoted more recently by journalists rediscovering just what manner of person he is: Everyone wants to fuck young girls!”

Or this shit, where Terrebonne Parish’s corrections officer repeatedly raped a fourteen year old inmate and the parish is trying to blame her for contributing to it because, being an inmate and pretty much at the mercy of her jailers, she acquiesced instead of yelling, kicking and probably getting beaten or disciplined by the corrupt guards.

So this guy Niel Wilson in England fucked a thirteen year old, and the system focused on the same old slut-shaming shit.  In rape cases with adult victims, there’s at least the figleaf of relevance, the pretension that this is something more than an exercise in attempting to label the victim a “bad girl” undeserving of vindication, because the defense argues that it goes to consent, or failing that, the defendant’s subjective belief in consent.  If that were true, then there would be no point in trying the same thing in a statutory rape case, where consent is not a defense.  But the same issues come up.  A barrister for the Crown Prosecution Service in this latest case said, “The girl is predatory in all her actions and she is sexually experienced,” he reportedly told the court.”  Leave aside for a moment that this is a vile thing to say … how is it relevant? It’s not a defense!

Except that law isn’t a set of words, it’s a discourse of power that will tend to bend the way the people in the process see the world.  Arguing that this child was somehow a slut undeserving of protection, indeed culpable for seducing this poor defendant (who was also in possession of child porn, by the way) seems relevant to the people in the process because the whole frame of reference in a rape culture is not actually consent, but whether the victim is a good girl deserving of protection.  That’s always the real question, the crux of what passes for the moral substrata in matters of rape.  It seems relevant to people that this thirteen year old was the alleged pursuer, that Mary Doe in Terrebonne Parish had drug problems and a sexual history … (she’s fourteen, which unless her partners were all similar-age means she has a history not of sex but of being victimized).

I’ve written before about statutory rape and I’ve written that I think there should always be a so-called “Romeo and Juliet” exception for similar-aged partners.  And I still think so, though in most places 13 is too young for those provisions to apply, and rightly so.  I also think that statutory rape laws ought to be enforced:  not just when the parents dislike one of the participants, and not just when the prosecution is homophobic — these laws have a history of much stricter enforcement against same sex couples and anyone else whose conduct violates race, class or other norms….

Please read the rest on the Yes Means Yes blog.

-_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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“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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Why I Won’t Respond To…

Brilliant post called “Why I won’t respond to your tweets about false rape accusations” — this is the third such article I’ve found on this topic, and it cannot be shared or repeated enough.

I’ve pasted some excerpts below, but please go read the original article(s), as they have really lovely pie charts and the like to illustrate this excellent point. This page will be permanently linked from the “False Accusations” page on this OWF site.

Excerpts:

Over and over and over again commenters and tweeple insist on discussing false rape accusations over rape survivors’ experiences and the challenges they face in dealing with their trauma, finding support and reporting to the police. This despite the fact that false rape accusations make up less than a percentage of the total projected rapes in this country.

Disclaimer: Read this fantastic post by Lauren Nelson on American false report data. It was such a great idea that I decided to mimic it with our own data that’s available. Nelson makes brilliant points, so I will be copy-pasting her brilliance here (see the green text). I will get into this in more depth when I have a chance and write a more eloquent post.

This study is the most reliable study we have in South Africa into how prevalent false rape reports may be. While the study focusses on Gauteng, the team that produced this are currently working to do the same study nationally. Until that study is completed, this is the best data we have on rape case attrition and false rape accusations. According to the study, 3.3% of rape reports may be false accusations (see page 43). That’s 3.3 false accusations out of every hundred rape cases…

The idea that we must pepper discourse on the suffering of the marginalized by bemoaning comparatively insignificant harms suffered by the group that has historically had a cultural and institutional advantage in the legal system reeks of privilege.

The very notion that by focusing on the suffering of the majority without excusing the suffering of a minority is a form of discrimination is nonsensical.

The fact that false accusations are perpetually injected into accounts of substantial grief as an equal comparison is a distraction at best, and offensive more often. It is the equivalent of saying, “Rape is terrible, but…”

No – there is no “but.” Rape is terrible, and that statement needs no caveat.

While that is the righteously indignant response that comes to mind when I look at this data, when the temper has cooled  and I attempt to be objective, I’m not entirely comfortable with this line of reasoning. I would not want to silence the voice of a victim of admittedly rare female-on-male rape just because they were representative of a very small proportion of the sexual violence victim population, and I don’t like the idea of doing that to other people who have suffered an injustice, either.

So while I feel like the comparison of false rape accusations to the extensive harms of rape culture is a bad one, that’s not why I’m refusing to publish comments bringing it up.

The reason is that this comparison has struck fear into the hearts of sexual violence victims for decades. It makes victims feel as though they won’t be believed if they do come forward. It gives rape culture perpetrators the “backing” to say a victim “wanted” it, or changed their mind because they were embarrassed. It gives the most vile of commenters their “grounds” for claiming a victim was “obviously” lying because so-and-so could have “anyone they wanted.”

That doesn’t help rape culture, but more importantly, that doesn’t help the victims. Coming forward can be important to receiving proper medical treatment, counseling and – should they choose to press charges – justice. And it can be the difference between putting a rapist behind bars, or allowing them to rape again. I don’t want to be a part of a culture that does that.

The reason is that – for better or worse – those concerned about false rape accusations have a heavyweight ally in their corner already: rape culture itself. The culture hand-delivers skepticism for any allegation that might be made. Victims, on the other hand, have no such ally in their corner. I’m not worried about giving those concerned about false rape accusations a platform, particularly if it’s going to continue to skew the odds against sexual violence victims by perpetuating rape culture overall.

Finally, it’s about creating a safe space.

Which is exactly what we’re trying to do with The Order of the White Feather.

Please read the entire article here.

-_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 Community Response, Misogyny, Rape Culture

Defining Rape

I wanted to post this particularly today, as the Steampunk Musician who sexually assaulted and technically raped me back in 2011 gets to perform at Dragon*Con this week. I hope Dragon*Con, who knows what he did, have taken some measure to protect other women from his sexualized aggression.

I’ve gotten a few, albeit not many, responses of victim-blaming and slut-shaming in regards to the events of May 2011 and afterwards, so I take this opportunity to define rape once again.

The following is reblogged from Behind the Mask of Abuse.

As you can see by the title this will be a trigger subject for some. Please proceed with caution.

I know I have blogged about rape before, but I have been thinking about how people define rape.  Many may see it as someone attacking you unexpectedly.  You have no time to think, or react.  No strength to fight off the attacker who is stronger.  That is definitely rape.

Many may know, but some may not, there are other forms of rape.

There is date rape defined below:

      forcible sexual intercourse by a male acquaintance of a woman, during a voluntary social engagement in which the woman did not intend to submit to the sexual advances and resisted the acts by verbal refusals, denials or pleas to stop, and/or physical resistance.  I will add to this, that even if you were being intimate consensually, at the point you say stop and or no.  NO MEANS NO.  If you have said “no” at any point, then it is no longer consensual.  It becomes rape/or molestation depending on how far an individual goes.

There can also be rape, by family members, such as a brother, father, uncle, or family friend.  The victim is too scared to stop it and will blame themselves.  The Perpetrator will often feed the victim lies, such as “it is our little secret”  “you are my special girl/or boy”  “if you tell, no one will believe you.” (This sadly is often the case.)

There is also being raped while you are asleep.  If you are sleeping, and weren’t awakened, and asked first, then you were raped.  If you haven`t given permission, it is rape.  If you are under the age of 16 it is considered statutory rape.

A husband can rape a wife or a wife can rape a husband, again if either is told “no” and the other proceeds, even in a marriage, it is rape.  Same goes with girl/boyfriend relationships.

A couple of other types of rape are gang rape, drug facilitated which includes, the date rape drug.  It also includes if you were drunk or high and unaware of what was taking place.

     I WANT TO STRESS, THAT NO MEANS NO!  ANYTHING AFTER THAT IS RAPE.  I also want to say that those of us who have been raped will take the blame on ourselves.  Thinking things like, “I led him on” “I should have stopped him” etc.  IT IS NEVER THE VICTIMS FAULT.  ABUSE AND RAPE LIE SQUARELY ON THE SHOULDERS OF THE ABUSER.

Those of us who have been raped are often too embarrassed to tell, I believe embarrassment is also connected to shame.  We have nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about.  We did nothing wrong.

If you have been in any of these situations, please tell someone.  If the first person doesn’t believe you, keep telling until someone does.  It is not something you can go through alone.  You may think it is no big deal, or others have been through worse, but it is a big deal.  You can’t compare yourself to others. Your situation hurt you, mentally, emotionally and physically.

You can only shove it down so long before it comes back in one way or another.

I just want to add that women can rape and or abuse men too no one is exempt.

There is hope.

-_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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Sex After Rape

Below is an excerpt from an excellent post called “12 Things No One Told Me About Sex After Rape.” Please go to the authors site and read the entire thing.

In reading this, I feel a sense of solidarity and hope. Some of these 12 things I’ve already experienced, others I’ve yet to. It’s been over a year since I’ve had sex, as I’m not willing to have dissociative sex anymore. The entire subject is rather distasteful for me now, which is problematic as an erotic romance author. Needless to say, I no longer write erotica.

Fortunately, I live #7 every day, as I’m married to an amazing and supportive man. Since I’m still in the place that this article begins, sex, for now, is not a viable option.

There is a strange sort of unspoken theory that once a woman has been raped, sex is no longer a viable option for her. Sex has been replaced by trauma, fear, pain, and anxiety. I’m not saying this is never the case. Every survivor’s story and experience is different, but too often the assumption is that if you have been raped, you are sexually broken and forever unfixable. That sort of discourse is not healthy or empowering or even sympathetic. What I want to say is what I wish I had been told: rape is not a form of sex, it is a form of assault. Sex feels good. Assault is traumatizing. It is possible for sex to exist after rape because they are different experiences, just like it’s possible for you to still enjoy going out to eat even if you got food poisoning once. You might never go back to that restaurant again, but it doesn’t mean you will get food poisoning every time you go out.

Admittedly, I don’t know what sex before rape is like. I lost my virginity to rape at 14. People are willing to give a lot of guidance on what a survivor is supposed to do after her rape. Do not change clothes. Do not shower. Have someone you trust take you to the hospital. Report it immediately to law enforcement. Reach out to loved ones, find a therapist, become an advocate for other survivors. But it’s been 10 years and these are the things nobody told me about sex after rape:

1. Nobody tells you that you’ll feel guilty the first time you have a crush on a guy after your rape. Aren’t you supposed to hate men now? I mean, ugh, penises are evil and one ruined your life. You shouldn’t even be thinking about boys. That’s what got you in trouble in the first place. (Oh, hey rape culture, how’d you get here?)

2. Nobody tells you that you’ll be called a tease when you draw the line at making out. Even though you’re pretty proud of yourself for this minor victory on your path to regaining any confidence in expressing your sexuality, some people will think you’re a prude because you won’t take off your pants.

3. Nobody tells you that the first time you do take off your pants in front of a potential partner you’ll cry almost immediately and put them back on, leaving without an explanation. You’ll feel embarrassed and stupid and you’ll wonder if you’re ever going to be capable of intimacy ever again.

4. Nobody tells you that masturbation is a healing practice (OK, maybe your therapist suggested it once or twice) and that realizing you’re capable of sexual satisfaction after rape is an incredible, powerful feeling. Sometimes it takes a while to feel wholly reunited with your body in this way, and you’re allowed to take all the time you need. Sexual exploration is a journey, not a destination.

5. Nobody tells you that your PTSD symptoms will be scoffed at. Your boundaries will be called “arbitrary” and you will be accused of “wielding sex as a weapon” and “putting yourself on a pedestal.” Someone should tell you that people who say these things are the worst type of people to be around. They have no right to make you feel ashamed, but they will. If they have the potential to get angry about the choices you make about what you do with your body, they are not worth your time or energy or thought or love. But nobody tells you that.

6. Nobody tells you that the ‘rape talk’ will be a thing that has to happen before any romantic relationship gets too serious. Nobody lets you know that immature men will freak out and refer to your rape as “baggage” when they cut things off. And unfortunately, nobody mentions that some men will hold your hand and weep with you when you tell them, because they can’t believe anyone would be capable of hurting you.

7. Nobody tells you that there are men who are patient and kind. Some men will listen and support you and they will read and research and seek to understand. They will ask you what you like and what you don’t like, they will be explicit about their concerns, and they will treat you with respect and dignity.

Please read the last five here…

#8 is really a big fear of mine, actually. Just thinking about it is triggering.

#9 gives me hope

#10, every fucking day

-_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 Hope