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Tea and Strumpets

Tag Archives: Rape

Shutting down rape culture, one election at a time

The Republican Rape Philosophers lost. (H/T Feministe)

Incumbent Roger Rivard (R), lost his Congressional seat to Steven Smith (D). Rivard was the chap who told passed on his father’s wisdom that “some girls rape easy.”

Todd Akin (R) failed to take what should have been a winnable senate seat for the Republicans. Akin was the chap who told us that if a rape was “legitimate”, then a woman could not get pregnant because her body would shut conception down.

Tea Party backed candidate Richard Mourdock couldn’t win what should have been a wide open race, giving the Democrats one more seat in the Senate. Mourdock was the chap who told us that pregnancy resulting from rape was something that God intended.

But why should we care, here in New Zealand, an ocean away from the United States?

Here’s why. We should care because the anti-women rhetoric coming from conservatives in the US travels down here swiftly. Rape culture is alive and flourishing in New Zealand, and concepts like “legitimate rape” and “can’t get pregnant from rape” and “some girls rape easy” and “God meant for you to be raped” play into it, and sustain it.

I am so very glad that voters in the United States rejected these men who endorsed rape. It’s a push back, a small step towards dismantling the narrative of hatred and contempt for women.

Cross posted

Cultural Studies

Trigger warning for sexual assault

Recently, a friend and I were having a conversation, and I used the words “rape culture”. And the conversation went like this:

“What’s rape culture?”

“Fuck. Um…well, it’s the idea that we live in a world where rape is a crime that many, many women, and some men, face, and that as a crime, it is often lessened, because it’s in the patriarchy’s interests to control women’s bodies, and to encourage male aggression. Ok, wait, that’s a really bad definition…”

“The patriarchy?”

“Lordy. Um…look, can I send you some links…?”

“Yeah, I guess, but I mean, why do you care so much? You’ve never been raped…”

I didn’t, but I wanted to explain to him that he had just perpetuated rape culture. First, the assumption that I’ve never been assaulted, because he would automatically know that. Because it would be my responsibility to share that information, or he’d just be able to tell, I guess. Second, the idea that violent crime only affects the victim.

When we talk about 1 in 5 women being assaulted, or whichever statistic you’d care to use about violent crime, we focus on the 1. We think about how many women we might know who have been raped. We think how lucky to not be one of those people. But what that means is that women constantly live in a space where there’s a fairly good statistical chance we’ll be Next. Where my friend can say to me “But I’ve seen you. You’re really good at keeping yourself safe”, and not think about whether it’s reasonable that I have to do that. Where I can be harassed by a group of men walking down the street on a Sunday night, and my first thought is not to fight back, but how quickly I’d have to run to get home safely. It’s using the threat of a violent crime to control women’s behaviour, and lessening the severity of the crime because it suits your purpose.

Rape culture is where a judge can tell a sexual assault victim:

“If you wouldn’t have been there that night, none of this would have happened to you,” Hatch said.

Hatch told the victim and the defendant that no one would be happy with the sentence she gave, but that finding an appropriate sentence was her duty.

“I hope you look at what you’ve been through and try to take something positive out of it,” Hatch said to the victim in court. “You learned a lesson about friendship and you learned a lesson about vulnerability.”

Hatch said that the victim was not to blame in the case, but that all women must be vigilant against becoming victims.

“When you blame others, you give up your power to change,” Hatch said that her mother used to say.

When you blame others. WHEN YOU FUCKING BLAME OTHERS? The “other” is TO BLAME. By the same token, I would never been assaulted if I just hadn’t let a dude slam his way into my house, or led him on with my sexy, sexy flannel pyjamas. What are women meant to do? How are we meant to learn about vulnerability? Never go to bars? Never leave our houses? Never, ever, see other people?

The US election, and the constant use of women’s bodies as political tools must have been wearying for some people, at best. And downright triggering for others. I am on the other side of the world, and I’d like to lock Todd Akin in a room with some victims and some heavy objects. Here’s a good rule of thumb. If you are using the word rape in a sentence, and it’s not to denounce a violent, horrific crime, then you need to take a good look at yourself.

I don’t know what we do to go about ending this. Call it out when we see it, make a fuss, slutwalk. But the thing about living in a culture of fear is that some days, you can’t get yourself out of the bathroom. And that’s OK. It’s a reasonable response. We all need to be pushing back against the Richard Mourdock’s of the world when we can, and we need allies.

So, if, like me, you’re finding the way US politicians seem comfortable talking about women problematic*, and because this has been something of a heavy post, here, have some of the queen.

* Problematic = TLG code for Really Fucked Up

Hellish

Trigger warning for sexual assault, assholishness, and losing all faith in humanity.

By now, you know all about the “funny” competition winner Hell pizza congratulated on its Facebook pages and its epic non-apology.

Hey everyone, tonight we posted a fan’s confession seeing it in the spirit of a prank between mates. Once we understood that offence had been taken and saw the bad light the post could be seen in we removed it, and we apologise to those offended. Lesson learned.

Because, yes, shoving your genitals in someone’s mouth: a prank between mates.

But, oh dear, people were offended, so we’ve taken it down, so those delicate little flowers stop being upset. Because no one in this country can take a joke. </sarcasm>

Now, that apology doesn’t make me think that Hell even understands why what they posted is offensive, let alone that the company is even remotely contrite. What confirms that for me is the conversation they have let go on. I was drunk, so I Read The Comments. Don’t.

Apparently, I can’t take a joke, I’m “just jealous”, teabagging someone isn’t that bad, and it’s definitely not sexual assault. We all need to lighten up, we all need to stop being so damn PC, it was funny, if someone did that to them they’d just punch them in the face and be done with it.

So far, so sigh-inducingly predictable. Rape culture 101. And were it not Hell, who has history, I’d probably be more surprised and angry. But I’m not. I don’t like their pizzas, so I’m OK. Feel free to boycott them, if it floats your boat. I doubt they give a shit about people like us.

Meanwhile, Habitual Fix has also “apologised” for their horrendous transphobic and body-shaming  Manwiches ad:

Hi everybody, we are very passionate about what we do, which is doing everything we can bring you your fresh food fix every day. We believe this is something that many similar NZ businesses cannot claim and this is why you, the customer, share our passion. But to stand out in a vanilla society that’s currently happy and safely sitting on the fence, we need an opinion, to stand for something and yes, a lot of attitude. Part of that attitude is to be current and very patriotic, that’s why last week we proposed the ‘Gold coin smoothie for Val’ promotion to you.

When did “vanilla” become a bad thing? Vanilla’s a great flavour. And if someone identifies as vanilla in a sexual context – and I am uncertain if that is the connotation they are going for – then that’s actually fine. Great even. You know what’s great? Vanilla added to a hot chocolate made with really dark, bitter, chocolate. Delicious…. Sorry, where was I? Yeah. Vanilla – good. Not a catchphrase for conservatism, for people being to PC, not getting your joke. And, like all sexual preferences and identifications, not something to imply is a bad thing, and you’re a better person because you don’t “sit on the fence”.

Here’s the thing. It actually is possible to stand out in a conservative society, have an opinion, and an attitude even, without BEING A COMPLETE FUCKING DICK WHO DENIGRATES OTHER PEOPLE BASED ON THEIR APPEARANCE. Shocking, I know.

[Update: Hell has offered money to Wellington Rape Crisis. Well. This is an interesting turn of events. If by interesting, we mean extremely problematic.]

Quickie: the same old story

Don’t walk or jog alone, Whanganui women warned

I could write an extended post about victim blaming, and who is being held responsible for women being raped (hint: it’s not the rapist), and who has to change their behaviour in order to reduce the chances of a rape occurring (hint: it’s not the rapist), but you know what, I’ve done that before. Right here: Because the victim is responsible for not being raped.

One day, some police officer somewhere is going to talk about someone who is preying on women who are out jogging or walking, and NOT tell them that they ought to be careful. Instead, she or he will tell the perp that he or she must stop doing this horrible thing.

But alas, that day has not yet come.

Rape culture, ladies and gentlemen. You’re soaking in it.

Cross posted

Dangerous women and “the church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals”

Cross posted

People that the Vatican thinks should be disciplined and silenced: nuns who work on poverty and social justice issues.

CHICAGO — A prominent U.S. Catholic nuns group said Thursday that it was “stunned” that the Vatican reprimanded it for spending too much time on poverty and social-justice concerns and not enough on condemning abortion and gay marriage.

In a stinging report on Wednesday, the Vatican said the Leadership Conference of Women Religious had been “silent on the right to life” and had failed to make the “Biblical view of family life and human sexuality” a central plank in its agenda.

It also reprimanded American nuns for expressing positions on political issues that differed, at times, from views held by U.S. bishops. Public disagreement with the bishops — “who are the church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals” — is unacceptable, the report said.

People the Vatican promotes and places in positions of authority: priests who actively lie and cover up for other priests who rape children.

The Catholic primate of all-Ireland has said that he will not resign as Church leader despite revelations in the BBC’s This World programme.

It found Cardinal Sean Brady had names and addresses of those being abused by paedophile priest Brendan Smyth.

However, he did not pass on those details to police or parents.

Not only did he not pass on the details to police or children, but he actively coerced the children into staying silent. And he has LIED about the support the children were given.

Sean Brady’s role in the affair became clear in 2010, when it became known that he had been present when the abused boy was questioned.

He claimed, however, that the boy’s father had accompanied him, and described his own role as that of a note-taker.

However, the BBC This World investigation has uncovered the notes Cardinal Brady took while the boy was questioned.

The child’s father was not allowed in the room, and the child was immediately sworn to secrecy.

The story about Sean Brady will make you sick. And he’s still making excuses. He says that he wasn’t the only one who knew. In other words, it was someone else’s responsibility. And he claims that he had no power to do anything in any case.

“The commentary in the programme and much of the coverage of my role in this inquiry gives the impression that I was the only person who knew of the allegations against Brendan Smyth at that time and that because of the office I hold in the Church today I somehow had the power to stop Brendan Smyth in 1975.

“I had absolutely no authority over Brendan Smyth. Even my Bishop had limited authority over him. The only people who had authority within the Church to stop Brendan Smyth from having contact with children were his Abbot in the Monastery in Kilnacrott and his Religious Superiors in the Norbertine Order.

He is completely wrong about that. He always had the ability to go to the police, instead of participating in covering up a crime, and enabling a rapist to carry on raping children.

And he is now a Cardinal in the Catholic church.

So on the one hand, all those wretched women who dare to spend their time and effort working on issues of social justice are dangerously out of line and need to be reprimanded and controlled, and on the other, a man who participated in covering up the rape of children and is still making excuses for his behaviour, is given a position of high authority in the church. He is an “authentic teacher of faith and morals.”

I do not think that phrase means what the Catholic church hierarchy thinks it means.

Previous posts on the Catholic church and its protection of men who rape children:
Out of touch
Can the Pope be impeached?
They could always turn themselves in
Chanting the script from Rome
Sez it all.

Because the victim is responsible for not being raped

Cross posted

TRIGGER warning: this post discusses rape.

“Women should not be walking home alone in hours of darkness. You just have such vulnerability then.”

Source: Attack prompts police warning

So how, pray tell, is a woman to get home then? By teleporting?

The woman who was assaulted had just walked a friend home, and had only a short distance to go. The place where she was attacked is a well lit residential street in Palmerston North. Yet the warning is going out to women: don’t even think about being independent, about assuming the right to move about your own town freely. Remember always that you personally are responsible for making sure that some assailant doesn’t attack you. Lock yourself up, constrain your movements, live in fear.

This is a real lose:lose for women. I’ve been told by some people who have larger, stronger bodies than mine, that I should just get over my concern about walking alone at night, and go ahead and do it, because it’s silly to worry all the time. Yet when women do just that, when they do avail themselves of the freedoms that citizens in our society are supposed to enjoy, then if they are assaulted, they are blamed for it. They shouldn’t have been out walking in the dark.

There’s not a word of blame placed on the assailant in the story about this assault. Elsewhere in the paper there is a story about people vandalising street signs, but no one has suggested that it’s the city council’s fault for having street signs in the first place. Instead, the city council is asking the public to intervene, and promising that they will crack down on offenders.

The public has to be prepared to be more vigilant and step in and say ‘Hey, we’ve had enough of this; let’s ring the police and get the police in on the job and catch these people in the act’.”

Mr Cuff said the only answer to the problem would be to “prosecute them, and prosecute them hard”.

Signposts matter.

Just not with you, Sunshine

Cross posted

We all know the meme: she was wearing a short skirt, or flirting with lot of men, or showing lots of cleavage, so clearly, she was just out for sex, and she was asking for it.

Well, yes. Plenty of women do wear short skirts, or flirt with lots of guys, or show lots of cleavage, because they would like to have sex.

But here’s the crunch.

Just because a woman is wearing a short skirt, or flirting, or showing lots of cleavage, and clearly very interested in having sex with someone, doesn’t mean that she wants to have sex WITH YOU.

You may be middleaged and balding, you may have bad breath, you may be drunk as a skunk, and these might all be good reasons in that short-skirted, flirty, cleavage showing woman’s mind for her not to want to have sex WITH YOU, even if she wants sex in general.

You might be a glorious amalgam of Brad Pitt, Chow Yun Fat, Alan Rickman, James McAvoy and Will Smith, and for whatever reason, she might decide that she is not interested in having sex WITH YOU.

Even if a woman is deeply interested in having sex with someone, that someone may not be you. Sex may be exactly what she wants, just not with you, Sunshine. You still have to get consent.

End of story. Because really, there is nothing else to be said.

Mutatis mutandis for women having sex with men, or men having sex with men, or women having sex with women. Active, positive consent matters, every single time.

Friday Feminist – Blue Milk

Cross posted

Don’t go out and get drunk, it could lead to you getting raped. Also, don’t have sex with someone because it could get you raped by someone they know. Don’t be young, that could definitely get you raped. While we’re at it, especially don’t be a child, that could really get you raped. Don’t be older either, that can get you raped. Don’t be living in a nursing home; women get raped there. In fact, what are you even doing in an establishment like that, are you asking for it? Don’t be single; single girls are sluts. Sluts get themselves raped. Don’t be married either or you could get raped by your husband. Don’t go jogging, that is just irresponsible. Don’t go to carparks, that can get you raped.

Blue Milk, “Don’t get raped”, 2010.

I urge you to click through and read the whole post.

More or less ever since I started my own blog, I have posted a quote from a feminist every Friday. Over time and as I have learned more, the series has widened to include womanists, activists, and wahine Māori. Sometimes the quotes are prompted by something I’ve been thinking about, sometimes by something that is in the news, sometimes something going on in the blogosphere. Sometimes, it’s just something I have stumbled across and found interesting. Usually, I quote from books and essays, but occasionally, I quote something from a blog. I always try to provide links and dates, so that the quote can be set in context. I don’t necessarily agree with the quote, but nor do I necessarily disagree. While I was writing at The Hand Mirror, I cross-posted the quotes there, and now that I am writing here at The Lady Garden, I will try to cross-post the quotes here.