Tag Archives: sexualized violence

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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Filed under 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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Filed under Community Response, Misogyny, Rape Culture, SFF Conventions

“Maybe It’s Just Us” by Cherie Priest

I had the great pleasure of doing two cons almost back-to-back with Ms. Priest in 2011. They were in between my first sexual assault by a colleague, for which I was still both in denial and recovery, and about six weeks before the second by the Steampunk Musician. Needless to say, I wasn’t at my best. Still, I had a lovely time with Ms. Priest during both conventions, and I hope to see her again in the future.

This post “Maybe It’s Just Us” is in response to the SFWA sexism scandal and to Elise Matthesen’s post about how to report sexual harassment,even if (maybe, especially if) the perpetrator is a prominent member of the community. I’m thrilled to see how her story has spread across the internet and inspired these discussions. I’m also so happy to see that the convention took it seriously. More and more are doing so because we’re speaking up. I’ve spoken to three different conventions privately about the sexual assault/rape by that Steampunk Musician after SPWF 2011, and two of the Con Chairs still say: “Yes, so sorry that happened and we take these things seriously, but our hands are tied.” In other words, he’ll still be welcome as GOH and such. The third, however, which will be made public shortly, not only say they take such things seriously, they’re showing with their actions. They will no be bringing him back next year. Yes.

Excerpt from “Maybe It’s Just Us”:

Sure, this other dude is all up in my personal space, but it’s kind of crowded in here, maybe he didn’t mean to rub his arm against my boob. Either of those times. My boobs aren’t very big. They’re easy to miss.

Besides, I attend these events as a professional. It’s my job to be Nice and Warm and Approachable. Therefore, I get Approached.

So it’s easy to wonder if maybe it’s just me, sending out the wrong signals. Getting the wrong approaches. And God knows if I do bring up my discomfort, the odds are very, very good that I’ll hear, “I’m sure he didn’t mean it that way.” “He’s just trying to be friendly.” “You’re overreacting.”

With enough repetition, enough reinforcement … (enough dismissal) … any reasonable person would start to think, “Well, I’m the common denominator, here. I guess it is just me.”

She concludes that Elise’s post will make it easier for her and other women to report and to stop before second guessing themselves. It will indeed. Every woman who speaks out makes it easier for the next woman. Several have written to me privately saying how my posts at Caught in the Cogs on rape, rape culture, and misogyny, along with my very personal accounts and healing, have helped them out of dangerous situations or abusive relationships. We must talk. We must shout!

We will never be silent again.

Read the rest of “Maybe It’s Just Us” here.

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Filed under Hope, Misogyny, Objectification, Rape Culture

In Solidarity at Silver Goggles

Thank you so much for this, JHA. Thank you, too, for your friendship and continuing support.

Excerpt:

One could say our entire community is made out of fringes, but I think this incident, as well as others, demonstrates just how entrenched most of us in the community are within the larger society; we even swallow their norms and values. Let’s be honest, most of us are in for the shiny. Women still cannot escape rape culture even in steampunk. We may feel slightly safer because we can wear underwear on the outside without necessarily subjecting ourselves to objectifying repercussions and because our men for most part wrap themselves up in the costume and mannerisms of “gentlemen”.
But let’s not be complacent about the fact that we are safe. Let’s not pretend that we are in an alternate dimension where predators don’t exist.

Read the rest here.

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Filed under Hope, Misogyny, Objectification, Rape Culture, SFF Conventions

Reporting Harassment at a Convention…

Reblogged from Whatever.

If you choose to report, I hope this writing is useful to you. If you’re new to the genre, please be assured that sexual harassment is NOT acceptable business-as-usual. I have had numerous editors tell me that reporting harassment will NOT get you blacklisted, that they WANT the bad apples reported and dealt with, and that this is very important to them, because this kind of thing is bad for everyone and is not okay. The thing is, though, that I’m fifty-two years old, familiar with the field and the world of conventions, moderately well known to many professionals in the field, and relatively well-liked. I’ve got a lot of social credit. And yet even I was nervous and a little in shock when faced with deciding whether or not to report what happened. Even I was thinking, “Oh, God, do I have to? What if this gets really ugly?”

But every time I got that scared feeling in my guts and the sensation of having a target between my shoulder blades, I thought, “How much worse would this be if I were inexperienced, if I were new to the field, if I were a lot younger?” A thousand times worse. So I took a deep breath and squared my shoulders and said, “Hell, yes, use my name.” And while it’s scary to write this now, and while various people are worried that parts of the Internet may fall on my head, I’m going to share the knowledge — because I’m a geek, and that’s what we do.

Read the entire article at Whatever… where the author goes on to give tips on reporting

John Scalzi is all kinds of awesome, and I’m thrilled to see he posted this story on his popular blog. I was first alerted to the awesomeness of Scalzi when he wrote “A Fan Letter to Certain Conservative Politicians” from the POV of a rapist. Pure brilliance. If you haven’t read it, read it now. Seriously.

Next time I heard something from Scalzi was when he responded to the SFF sexism scandal a few weeks back, and I was impressed yet again. He stepped up and took full responsibility as the president of  SFWA. Since my experience with most people have them running away from any sort of accountability and responsibility, even when it’s clearly theirs, Scalzi’s integrity stood out in his response to the offending article. Whether or not it’s related to this issue, his tenure as president has come to an end, and he still shows that same level of integrity so rarely seen in people.

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Filed under Hope, Misogyny, Objectification, Rape Culture, SFF Conventions