I was feeling profoundly depressed about the UCSB shootings and equally depressed about the number of men who just don’t get why women are horribly upset and scared by this. Then I found the #YesallWomen hashtag on twitter and it helped.
Because, well, yes. Not all men are predators. But every woman you know has had experience with men who are. Every woman. Me. Your mother. That lady in the upstairs apartment with the dog with the annoying clicky nails ALL NIGHT ALL DAMN NIGHT PUT BOOTS ON THAT THING.
All of us.
I’m not even talking about rape or threats of violence here, though of course that’s part of it. It’s not just being taught from an early age that we’re prey animals, and we always have to be ready to fight or flee. It’s that creepy fifty-something guy who tried to pick me up on a city bus when I was fourteen. The fellow writer who stared down my shirt after his third glass of wine. The mail carrier who pulled over to ask me out on a date, and when I told him I was married, argued with me. (Notice, I told him “I’m married,” not “That’s flattering, but no thank you.” Because belonging to another man is safer than saying no.) There was the airport shuttle driver who bugged me for my phone number all the way from Hartford to New York, until another passenger entered the van.
That wasn’t scary at all. Nuh uh.
I’m not saying that it’s always inappropriate to pay a compliment. I was never offended by the guy who stopped me in the supermarket to tell me I had pretty hair and carried myself well, and it brightened his day—because he so patently did not want anything from me. He was complimenting, not coming on.
We can tell the difference.
If we’re conventionally attractive, we’re abused when we refuse to cater to men—when we don’t want to be bothered when we’re reading on the train or give them our phone number if they stop us on the street. If we’re dyky or fat or old, we’re abused for being ugly lesbo bitches, which is to say, not fuckable. Because being fuckable is the only excuse a woman has to exist, to these dudes.
It makes me fucking tired. It makes a lot of women tired.
And what you’re hearing right now is a lot of tired women asking for a little fucking respect. If you haven’t behaved that way, well then. It’s not directed at you, is it?
If you have behaved that way?
Maybe this could be a learning experience, then.
Joan Jett’s jacket. Notice the pins.
"keep abortion legal"
"If she says no, it’s rape"
"Pro fucking choice"
This jacket is from about thirty years ago. These issues were big then. Thirty years later, these issues are still present. I was amazed to find these pins on the jacket, and realize this, because I would have thought, back then, if I was alive, that those issues would be solved by NOW.
But they aren’t. Joan Jett knew what was up.
Why can’t we take a minute and soak in her “bad reputation” and think about how in thirty years, abortion and rape culture STILL are huge issues.
Photos courtesy of EMP museum in Seattle, Washington.
Here’s the fucking thing
I’ve heard/seen several people mention how the Steubenville case should remind us all to speak to our daughters about parties and drinking.
Thing is, we already fucking do that. We’ve been doing it. You think I won’t be a paranoid mom about this shit with my daughter? You think every time she goes out to a party I won’t ask the universe to protect her? We already worry about and lecture our daughters endlessly. By the time our daughters are 16 they’ve already been told what a cruel and dangerous place this world is for them.
Guess what? They still get attacked.
So maybe, just fucking maybe, we should shift the focus to talking to and lecturing our young boys and men in our communities. Maybe they need to hear from their adult male role models and peers that there is never ever a time when they can assume consent or force themselves on a woman. Maybe we need to stop our boys before they walk out the door to that party and say, “You be careful, son. If she doesn’t say “YES” then you leave her the hell alone, you got it?” or maybe “You stick with your friends, son. Make sure you look out for each other. If one of your buddies is thinking about taking advantage of a girl, you help him home, ok?”
Our young women don’t need anymore lectures. They hear them from childhood on up.
Stop blaming your daughters and start educating your fucking sons.
A gang rape happened in Ohio and no one heard about it. A gang rape happened in India and everyone heard about it (as we should). The American media has represented India as a misogynistic country where women need to be constantly wary of the men that surround them. And after that gang rape, large-scale protests blocked the streets and clogged the media. Now, I am in no way saying that rape and domestic violence are not problems in India. As an Indian-American woman who has been to India many times and is incredibly familiar with the culture, I am in no way denying that. Rape, in India, is a serious problem. Rape, especially in lower class areas in India, is an extremely prevalent problem that needs to stop being ignored and taken seriously. Violence against women in India is a serious issue.
But violence against women in America is also a serious problem. Violence against women in South Africa, and Sweden, and Chile, and Thailand, is a serious problem. Violence against women is a serious problem. Period. Full stop. While our media went out representing India as a typical place for these deplorable events to happen, another woman’s similar story went ignored and without subsequent societal action. This country outright refuses to admit that it is a rape culture.
Our media and our country are so obsessed with presenting foreign countries as worse than us or uncivilized or, most importantly, undemocratic, they will blast our radios and timelines and homepages with news of rapes in India, but refuse to acknowledge that the same thing happens here and is happening here.
Anisha Ahuja, Why Does America Pretend it Doesn’t Hate Women? (Feminspire.com)
Yesterday I read an infuriating piece by a Swedish man about International Women’s Day. He seemed to think it was only about women earning equally to men and being represented politically (all of which he referred to as “details”). The only time he brought up rape and violence was when he suggested we save “poor little villages of girls” instead of getting riled up over these “details”. Not one word how - on average - one woman dies every week in Sweden due to domestic violence; five women are raped every day, or that children living in poverty continues to increase. Because that only happens in ‘other’, ‘non-western’ countries, apparently.
Less than a day into the Manti Te’o revelations, we’ve heard more about a fake dead girlfriend of a Notre Dame football player than a real dead girl. Lizzy Seeberg committed suicide, not long after being intimidated by Notre Dame football players for reporting a sexual assault by one of their teammates. A second woman who was taken to the hospital for a rape exam declined to formally accuse another Notre Dame football player after getting a series of bullying texts from players.
I’ve gotten a lot of submissions about different aspects of the gang rape in Steubenville, OH that has become a viral news story. So I thought I would make a master post about what has happened, the rape culture behind it, and how the case has evolved. This is a summary of violent and disgusting behavior, so please be aware before you continue reading.
WHAT HAPPENED: On August 11th, 2012, a party was thrown by Steubenville teenagers, including several members of the beloved high school football team. One of the attendees, a sixteen-year old girl, became heavily intoxicated and passed out. Instead of helping this girl - either by getting her home to a responsible adult, getting her medical attention, or keeping an eye on her vitals - her peers carried her into a bedroom by her hands and feet and raped her. Eventually, it came out that this was not an isolated incident; this girl was talked into going to the parties by a perp’s girlfriend, targeted, drugged, and raped at multiple parties throughout the summer.
The victim was not aware that anything had happened until the day after the August 11th attack, when she saw tweets about and pictures of the incident, and went to her father about it. What happened from there is still being pieced together.
THE COVERUP: It seems that the perps are members of the Big Red High School football team, and high school football is a big deal in Steubenville. At least one of the parties in question is thought to have been held at an assistant coach’s house. Not only is it wholly inappropriate for an adult employed by the school to be hosting students in their house, it is even more inappropriate to allow them to drink underage and assault their peers.
Football is such a huge part of Steubenville that the prosecutor and multiple judges have recused themselves because they personally knew the perpetrators. The case is now being handled by the Ohio state attorney.
After the rape was reported, law enforcement pleas for witnesses to come forward were met with silence. The Tweets, photos, and videos that originally alerted the victim to the events of the previous night were deleted - or so the perps thought.
ANONYMOUS GETS INVOLVED: The Steubenville story was picked up by crime blogger and former Steubenville resident Alex Goddard before it made it to major media outlets. She catalogued the aforementioned Tweets, videos, and photos, which are now being used by police.
Meanwhile, two football players have been charged, while multiple others are suspected and have not been benched. Apparently, the football fans in the town are more invested in the players’ rights than siding with the girl who was drugged and assaulted so horrifically.
The famed hacker group Anonymous did not find this satisfactory. The group hacked into the prosecutor’s office, and published photos, videos, and accounts of the assault that have since been spread across major news networks. It’s unclear how this will impact the trial.
RAPE CULTURE REARS ITS UGLY HEAD: Of course, people are already victim blaming the unconscious minor who was brutally raped by her peers. Just the other day, some douchebag on Twitter described the situation to me as, “rape is bad but that girl showed up for it every week like it was her job in tell her dad found out then there was a problem.” What should be a story about the importance of encouraging teenage witnesses of crime to intervene and come forward, as well as a discussion about the entitlement complexes that led these football players to carefully orchestrate multiple horrific sexual assaults has become for some another excuse to shame a teenager whose greatest crime was giving in to peer pressure and attending parties. I don’t know a single person who hasn’t caved to peer pressure at one time or another, and the punishment for it certainly isn’t rape.
Regardless of what you think of underage drinking or partying, it’s clear that this was a deliberately premeditated crime. It’s also clear that this girl at no time consented, and could not legally consent as she was unconscious. It also bears reminding that the photos and videos taken are child pornography - another felony.
THE LESSON: This is a tragedy that will likely affect this young woman for the rest of her life. Hopefully the perpetrators will all be held accountable for their atrocious actions, and the adults who allowed it to happen will be punished as well. At the very least, they have no business working with children ever again.
But a particularly striking thing about this situation is the fact that the teenagers who witnessed at least some of the events, as well as the videos, photos, and Tweets did nothing. They didn’t tell a teacher, a parent, or a law enforcement officer. They didn’t intervene to try and stop it. They didn’t even say anything to the girl who was assaulted, except apparently through online taunts.
So let this be the message to all teens: if you see something, say something. Drunk, drugged, and/or otherwise incapacitated people CANNOT give consent. Look out for each other, come forward about disturbing things that you see. Err on the side of caution - don’t exacerbate a horrible crime by blaming the victim.
MORE LINKS: For more information, check out these stories about the rape and ongoing investigation:
Local Leaks Tipsters Allege Steubenville Victim Was Drugged
Steubenville High School Students Joke About Rape In Video Leaked By Anonymous
Rape Case Unfolds on Web and Splits City
Rape charges against high school students divide football town of Steubenville, OH
[TW: Rape, Sexual Violence]
“we are here to tell her that women have every right to be adventurous. We will be adventurous. We will be reckless. We will be rash. We will do nothing for our safety. Don’t you dare tell us how to dress, when to go out at night, in the day, or how to walk or how many escorts we need! I am saying this because I feel that the word ‘safety’ with regard to women has been used far too much — all us women know what this ‘safety’ refers to, we have heard our parents use it, we have heard our communities, our principals, our wardens use it. Women know what ‘safety’ refers to. It means – You behave yourself. You get back into the house. You don’t dress in a particular way. Do not live by your freedom, and this means that you are safe. A whole range of patriarchal laws and institutions tell us what to do in the guise of keeping us ‘safe’. We reject this entire notion. We don’t want it.”
Kavita Krishnan, secretary, All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA),
Following the bestial sexual attack on a 23-year-old paramedical student in Delhi, the capital, along with other cities across the country, has seen numerous protests demanding justice not just for the survivor, but better laws and stringent action against sexual offenders per se. When on Wednesday 19 December students and protesters marched towards the Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit’s house, the police tried to ward them off with water cannons.