Tag Archives: sexual objectification

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

1 Comment

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.

4 Comments

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Misogyny, Objectification, Rape Culture

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.

1

2

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.”

3

4

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.

16

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.

 

5

6

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:

7

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.

10

15

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.

11

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?

12

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Misogyny, Rape Culture

Several Disturbing Examples

The following excerpt has been copied from Tumblr. Seems to have been originally compiled by scooterpiebanana. Find the entire post here.

men can take upskirt pictures of women and girls because women in public spaces have no legal expectation of privacy

women are treated as property that can be bought and sold and stolen as opposed to people

girls as young as kindergarten are called “sluts” for wearing a short skirt and forced to change clothes because boys and men might be distracted

men and boys literally can not seem to empathize with women (because i swear to god if melinda was a male character and everything else was the same the boys would not be asking that question)

men view women as literal objects

men build their own superiority into achievement tests that (in america) determine your future prospects

men believe that fat women don’t deserve to be loved simply because they are fat

women are villified for normal miscarriages and for aborting fetuses that were the result of rape (not to mention intentionally asserting bodily autonomy simply because you don’t want a fetus)

women can be raped on screen but can not masturbate on screen (even though men have masturbated on screen all the fucking time)

not wearing make up is one of the ways that psychologists determine if a woman is mentally healthy

Men have flat out stated that even if there is concrete evidence that a rape happened they would vote not guilty if on a jury.

Women need about 6 more years of education than men on average to make a comparable amount of money

Male Police officers have arrested women for resisting their advances with no initial punishment (until activists spoke up)

and this is just what i can think of recently.  There is so so so so so much more

Leave a comment

Filed under Misogyny, Objectification, Rape Culture

We See You.

Leave a comment

Filed under Misogyny, Objectification, Rape Culture

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

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Misogyny, Objectification, Rape Culture