The incredibly frustrating idea that women and girls ASK to be raped

Rape me, rape me; Oh, please, rape me.

I’m sorry, but I can’t imagine anyone thinking or saying these words, so how on Earth people think women and girls ASK to be raped is beyond my thinking.

If you haven’t yet read this, Keli Goff had a very good article on Salon about the gang-rape of the 11-year-old girl:

Of course she was asking for it

Of course she was. Why else would 18 men and boys rape her?

This case is still on my mind. It’s on my mind when I take a shower. It’s on my mind when I hear about other sexual assaults. When I hear about other crimes (the kind that doesn’t involve victim-blaming, which tends to be those involving strangers or male victims).

Goff brings up the Polanski case and adds a link to the Hollywood petition asking for him to be excused – I’ve added it here too. It sickened me to see how many celebs believe a pedophile should go unpunished: Petition 

She brings up several other cases to support her argument and, interestingly, mentioned how some judges even believe trafficked girls are actually “bad girls.”

Here’s Goff’s ending:

Maybe the reason we can’t get our criminal justice system and others in power to take sexual crimes against children more seriously is because too many of them believe that under the right (or rather wrong) circumstances they too could find themselves the accidental “victim” of the seductive charms of a young siren — whose age they really didn’t know (wink, wink.)

And wouldn’t that be terrible for them to find their lives ruined?

Especially if she was really asking for it.

 It’s not the first time somebody has pointed out that men in power can relate to the story or crime. For instance, it’s been said that white male writers/editors write about the “nice guy” that “snaps” and kills his wife because — well, that could be him in that position. It makes sense – rarely to I read that minorities are “nice guys” that “snap” when they commmit a crime.

Goff’s article has 486 comments at the moment. The last comment I read proved that people STILL didn’t get it:

CapriRS302 said:

WHen someone says “she was asking for it” they are not trying to put blame on the victim AND take it away from the perpetrato­r, they are just trying to point out that there were bad decisions that were made beforehand by the victim that led to the situation.

If I were to take a shortcut through a dark alley at night instead of walking around a few blocks or calling a cab and I got mugged, it would be the same type of thing.

What does it take to educate people on victim-blaming?
Here was my reply to Capri:
If someone said ‘she was asking for it’ – and “it” meant “rape” – then, yes, it’s blaming the victim. Nobody asks to be raped. Nobody asks to be mugged. Nobody asks to be killed. Period.

If bad decisions were made – well, they’re just bad decisions. No one can predict the future – no one can predict an assault. Bad decisions don’t cause or lead to rape. Rapists rape. It’s the rapist’s behavior – and the perp must take full accountabi­lity of committing a CRIME.

People make bad decisions every day. They don’t deserve to be punished for it. They don’t deserve to be raped, or mugged, or killed.

An 81-year-ol­d man was recently killed. He left his door open and a robber came in, stole $40. and killed him. Was he to blame? No. But he did leave his door open. Rarely do we blame victims for these crimes – but we do for rape and domestic violence.

Perps are NOT vigilantes­. They are not judges or juries. They should have no power whatsoever to punish people for bad decisions.

Here’s another article on the subject  – A REPUBLICAN joined the victim-blaming:

Sick: Republican Lawmaker likens 11 yr old rape victim to a “21 yr old prostitute” – this also links to another article on the topic, by Amanda Marcotte

 

More victim-blaming from the New York Times – this time from Liz Robbins

Why is it this society wants so badly to blame women for the crimes they experience?!? This is not just a phenomenon in rape, it also applies to domestic violence.

Here’s an article from the New York Times:

Man’s arc of domestic abuse led to death of an officer

I would have liked this article a lot more if it would have focused on the death toll of police officers responding to domestic violence. For instance, it could have covered how many officers die each year. How about how police officers sometimes fear responding to these calls because of the danger involved – maybe if society read that police officers have fear, they would realize how serious the situation is for women and their families. The headline hints at discussing this and then it goes right into victim-blaming.

Or, how about how this criminal was able to virtually evade a criminal justice system despite victimizing women? That should point to how ineffective the system is in responding to these crisis.

Man’s arc of domestic abuse led to death of an officer

The police said that in the past decade, 20 domestic incident reports had been filed against Mr. Villanueva; only six resulted in his arrest, according to two law enforcement officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation was continuing.

The disparity illustrates the complicated nature of such cases, which are fraught with fear, emotion and family politics. It is rare, one top Brooklyn prosecutor said Monday, that victims are willing to supply enough evidence for a case to go to trial, and because of that, it is rarer still to secure a conviction.

Wanda Lucibello, the chief of the special victims unit in the Kings County district attorney’s office, said: “These cases are much more complex than the usual case where all we have to deal with is talking to the victim about specifically what happened in time and place of occurrence. What we are trying to do is almost battle the power and the control and the intimidation that the offender has over the victim with a criminal justice timeline.”

“Along with the threats and the coercion,” she added, “sometimes love is mixed in with it, too — and untangling all of that while trying to help the victim is not easy.”

They do mention the abuser’s role here – but they should have ran with it. They should also have looked at the women’s view of the criminal justice system – but instead they talked to police officers. Therefore….they should have stayed on the topic of abusers killing police officers!!!! Who would know better than police officers. And who would know better than women to ask about how they feel about the criminal justice system!! Why was this overlooked?!

On Monday, Patrick J. Lynch, the president of the Police Benevolent Association, said in a statement that he questioned a system “that allows a vile and violent career criminal with scores of arrests for violent offenses to continue to walk our neighborhoods.”

OUR NEIGHBORHOODS? Are you kidding me? He targets women, not people in his neighborhood. At least he says he questions a SYSTEM – because the problem is the system, not the victims.

The ending really burns me up:

But Ms. Lucibello cautioned about drawing conclusions about domestic violence cases. “In about 75 to 80 percent of the cases,” she said, “the victims express reluctance, to some degree, in going forward.”

Why don’t we end on a note talking about how dangerous these men are? How they coerce women? How about how society blames women for staying with them? Do they know, for example, that it is actually safer to stay with an abuser than to leave him (because the greatest danger is in separation)? Do they know that the men who say “You’ll never get the kids” make good on their threat? That the men also threaten, abuse, and kill the family pet as a warning to what they can do to the woman? Or how about how the shortage of affordable housing makes it difficult for women to leave abusers?

Why do people have more sympathy for a witness who has to testify against a killer or gangster, and may even get police protection, or go into the witness protection program, yet they blame the wife or girlfriend of an abuser with a long criminal history who has no such protection? We blame those who know the perp and sympathize with those who don’t.

And instead of offering some fresh material on domestic violence, they rehash the same old myth – women are to blame for crimes committed by people known to them. 

New York Times, you not only blame victims, you report old news. In either case, I’m quite disgusted.

EDIT:

The New York Daily News did a much better job. Although they have one instance of victim-blaming:

On the frontlines of a war that’s fought 700 times a day in New York

If she had just stayed in the police car and quietly made the identification, then it likely would have been recorded as just another of more than two dozen arrests for Villanueva and just another of some 700 domestic disturbance calls a day, some 250,000 a year for the NYPD.

She instead popped out of the car and called out, signaling that he was no longer the one with power, no longer the one in control

“That’s him!”

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ny_crime/2011/03/14/2011-03-14_on_the_front_lines.html#ixzz1GiRXcWmH

People have to take accountability for their actions – the woman is not a puppet-master.

New York Times apologizes for victim-blaming

A bit of a half-assed apology, but it can help:

Big news! After a massive outcry from more than 40,000 Change.org members — which led to news coverage in the Huffington Post, Village Voice, and even London’s Daily MailNew York Times public editor Arthur S. Brisbane has issued a strong rebuke of the victim-blaming in a recent article by reporter James McKinley about the gang-rape of an 11-year-old girl and her community’s response.  

Brisbane wrote said that the outrage was “understandable” and that the piece conveyed “an impression of concern for the perpetrators and an impression of a provocative victim” that “led many readers to interpret the subtext of the story to be: she had it coming.”

The apology isn’t perfect — it decries the lack of “balance,” as if the paper should be providing equal voice to the concerns of the victims and her alleged attackers. And unfortunately, while the story ran in section “A” of the Times, Brisbane’s commentary showed up only online, not in his weekly column.

But because the Times is so high-profile, this condemnation still sends an important message to reporters all around the U.S. that readers will hold them accountable for insinuating that victims are somehow responsible for playing a role in their own sexual assaults. And you made this happen.

We have much more to do together as we fight for the rights and security of women everywhere, but we’re proving we can make real progress. If there’s a campaign you’d like to start, click here to create your own petition:

http://www.change.org/start-a-petition?alert_id=IWSUxNFEGk_HMgNqlZrOR&me=aa

Thanks for taking action,

Shelby and the Change.org team

Rape culture

I went to a conference once where the speaker had Googled ‘sexual assault’ and within a 24 hour time frame, she produced story after story of a society riddled with rape – of girls raped by men, of college students assaulted on campus, of women jogging in the park. It was startling.

Now consider how under-reported rape is. The media often focuses more on false allegations of rape than the problem of not reporting it, so most people tend to have more sympathy for the accused than the abused.

If the media reported on it, and society understood it better, perhaps we as a society could do more to prevent it. Reporting on false allegations – that just fuels the belief that people won’t believe you if you’re raped. Victim blaming will also prevent you from reporting. The recent NY Times article did just that – and did little to educate readers on the reality of rape. Here are a few more posts on the topic:

The careless language of sexual violence    

Here are some posts on campus assaults:

Students protest Dickinson College ignoring protection from sexual assault (pictures of the protest)

Dickinson college students want more information on sexual assaults on campus

Warning: the link below is highly offensive. Please hit the “report abuse” button on the upper left hand side:

Man debates: rape: deaf vs. blind

Hands down, deaf people are the better of the two to rape. If you’re raping a girl, what does she do? She cries and screams for help. Well, if she’s deaf she’ll be whining, but she won’t be calling out for someone to save her ass. She’ll squawk something that sounds like a seal with his slippery little cock slammed in a door. This will be annoying, of course, but no one will care. People will probably just think that some retard sprained her ankle. Thus, nobody will come to help her, and the neighbors will be pissed off at all the ruckus. Plus, I don’t have to stuff a sock in her mouth, which is one less thing I have to bring along in my rape tool kit, which includes the following:*.

*That’s why a deaf person is the preferred choice by many a rapist. You can sneak up behind them and they won’t hear you.

There are many more blogs and web sites with similarly offensive text (and pics). Angry Harry comes to mind. He refutes rape stats and claims most are false allegations.

Rape is a problem all over the world. I’ve posted links to articles that state 1 in 3 South African men admit to rape. I heard a woman talk about violence against women in Guatemala – she said gang members have to rape and kill girls for their initiation. She said since these men aren’t skilled in killing, they hack the body. All I could think was: they treat bulls better in Spain. And here’s a recent article about the rapes in Congo (many are classified as “atrocity rapes”):

UN squad starts work in mass rape zones 

But given the scale of conflict-zone sex assaults, Zahinda warns that his four-person unit –with two positions yet to be filled–can’t possibly respond to every incident of mass rape.

“If we were going to respond to individual cases we would be responding every second,” he told Women’s eNews in a recent phone interview. “People are raped every day in eastern Congo.”

Of course they can’t respond to every mass rape — women’s (and men’s) sexual assault are not prioritized. They go on the back burner, like many of the other issues we have.  I recently posted an article where a guy from US AID said women represented a “special interest group” and considered our human rights “pet projects.”

Women: How long are we going to take this?

New York Times: ‘Nice guys’ rape 11-year-old

Here’s a combination of the ‘nice guys’ rape scenario and victim-blaming. In this case, the victim is an11-year-old child. And the perpetrators are boys and men, ranging from middle-schoolers to 27 years in age. They raped the girl under the threat of a beating. In the article, the writer, James C. McKinley Jr., has quotes in the article that blames the victim (she wore make-up, dressed in clothing that made her look older; where was her mother) and praised the perps (they’ll have to live with this the rest of their lives)

Here are my thoughts:

1) Who else has reported on this? I haven’t searched it yet, but I’ve only heard about the NY Times piece. Why is it that this crime didn’t get national attention?

2) A link below has a response from the NY Times. They stand by this piece. They said the reporter used quotes – they weren’t his words. Aaaaah! So, if we can use quotes (choosing from, I assume, many quotes), we no longer are responsible!!! It’s as if those words jumped on the page themselves. I’ve encountered this problem before and I don’t buy it. The least the writer can do is interview an anti-rape advocate to counter the victim blaming.

3) When is society going to wake up? This should serve as the wake up call, but I doubt it will. A MIDDLE SCHOOLER was involved in this gang-rape. THE VICTIM WAS A CHILD.  Really? No public outrage? We should be ashamed to call ourselves humans. Having a conscience is what separates humans from animals — in this case, we are no different.

4) Men in their 20s raped this 11 year old. Hello!! This is pedophilia, folks. Why didn’t the NY Times deal with this? 

Here’s the NY Times piece: Gang rape of schoolgirl, and arrests, shakes Texas town

Here’s their reply, posted in The Cutline news blog  NY Times responds to backlash over reporting of an alleged child rape (alleged rape?! it was caught on tape, it was a rape)

The Times responded Wednesday evening to The Cutline: “Neighbors’ comments about the girl, which we reported in the story, seemed to reflect concern about what they saw as a lack of supervision that may have left her at risk,” said Danielle Rhoades Ha, a spokeswoman for the paper. “As for residents’ references to the accused having to ‘live with this for the rest of their lives,’ those are views we found in our reporting. They are not our reporter’s reactions, but the reactions of disbelief by townspeople over the news of a mass assault on a defenseless 11-year-old.”

Rhodes Ha also stressed that the paper stands by the controversial piece.

“We are very aware of and sensitive to the concerns that arise in reporting about sexual assault,” Rhoades Ha said. “This story is still developing and there is much to be learned about how something so horrific could have occurred.”

Read the NY Times letter to the editor

Mother Jones has quotes from the article & analysis: The NY Times’ rape-friendly reporting

Victim-blaming in the NY Times Cleveland gang rape article

The fword blog: Rape is the only crime in which the victim becomes the accused  (Domestic violence victims are also the “accused” – they nag or cheat or otherwise do something to deserve the beating. They, like rape victims, are also accused of lying.)

Here’s Salon’s reaction: The NY Times’ sloppy, slanted child rape story 

Here’s a petition on Change.org Tell the NY Times to apologize for blaming a child for her gang rape

New York Times: The Disposable Woman

The Disposable Woman by Anna Holmes

Kudos to the New York Times for getting a conversation started about our apathy towards misogyny.

Here’s the evidence of Sheen’s violence against women:

Our inertia is not for lack of evidence. In 1990, he accidentally shot his fiancée at the time, the actress Kelly Preston, in the arm. (The engagement ended soon after.) In 1994 he was sued by a college student who alleged that he struck her in the head after she declined to have sex with him. (The case was settled out of court.) Two years later, a sex film actress, Brittany Ashland, said she had been thrown to the floor of Mr. Sheen’s Los Angeles house during a fight. (He pleaded no contest and paid a fine.)

In 2006, his wife at the time, the actress Denise Richards, filed a restraining order against him, saying Mr. Sheen had shoved and threatened to kill her. In December 2009, Mr. Sheen’s third wife, Brooke Mueller, a real-estate executive, called 911 after Mr. Sheen held a knife to her throat. (He pleaded guilty and was placed on probation.) Last October, another actress in sex films, Capri Anderson, locked herself in a Plaza Hotel bathroom after Mr. Sheen went on a rampage. (Ms. Anderson filed a criminal complaint but no arrest was made.) And on Tuesday, Ms. Mueller requested a temporary restraining order against her former husband, alleging that he had threatened to cut her head off, “put it in a box and send it to your mom.” (The order was granted, and the couple’s twin sons were quickly removed from his home.) “Lies,” Mr. Sheen told People magazine.

Lies? Why is it the public hates a woman that “slanders” a man’s “reputation” yet allows men to do it – and get away with it, with ease? Holmes, the writer, notes how Sheen is idealized, while the women in his life, who’ve suffered from his abuse, are slandered

This hasn’t been the case with Mr. Sheen, whose behavior has been repeatedly and affectionately dismissed as the antics of a “bad boy” (see: any news article in the past 20 years), a “rock star” (see: Piers Morgan, again) and a “rebel” (see: Andrea Canning’s “20/20” interview on Tuesday). He has in essence, achieved a sort of folk-hero status; on Wednesday, his just-created Twitter account hit a million followers, setting a Guinness World Record.

But there’s something else at work here: the seeming imperfection of Mr. Sheen’s numerous accusers. The women are of a type, which is to say, highly unsympathetic. Some are sex workers — pornographic film stars and escorts — whose compliance with churlish conduct is assumed to be part of the deal. (For the record: It is not.)

Others, namely Ms. Richards and Ms. Mueller, are less-famous starlets or former “nobodies” whose relationships with Mr. Sheen have been disparaged as purely sexual and transactional. The women reside on a continuum in which injuries are assumed and insults are expected.

Gold diggers,” “prostitutes” and “sluts” are just some of the epithets lobbed at the women Mr. Sheen has chosen to spend his time with. Andy Cohen, a senior executive at Bravo and a TV star in his own right, referred to the actor’s current companions, Natalie Kenly and Bree Olson, as “whores” on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program on Tuesday.

I couldn’t even fathom hearing similar epithets from a group of women discussing men – first, it wouldn’t get aired; second, if they did it would be rightfully called a man-hating bitch session, to put it mildly. But slam women, most of whom have been victims of Sheen’s own misogyny, and get worshipped. What does that tell you about the climate we live in?

Objectification and abuse, it follows, is not only an accepted occupational hazard for certain women, but something that men like Mr. Sheen have earned the right to indulge in.

Sheen treats women the way he wants – getting his own way and attacking – verbally and physically – those that dare go against his wishes. His backtalk against his bosses is what brought him such media attention, while his treatment of women has gone virtually unnoticed. Even colleges are asking for him to be their commencement speaker. This would never be acceptable if he treated another group like this – it’s time we treat misogyny with the same contempt as anti-semitism and racism.

Caution: Women’s “signals” lead to rape, per Justice Robert Dewar

Women, did you know you send “signals” to men to insert their penis into your vagina without your consent? There is no known list of “signals,” so, of course, it’s very subjective. One judge called make-up, tube tops and mentioning ‘going swimming’ as signals that lead to rape:

Rape victim ‘inviting,’ so no jail time

Since she clearly sent “signals” to Kenneth Rhodes, he won’t get any jail time. Does this mean we need to conform to some people’s idea of what conservative or modest attire/behavior is in order to get protection from rapists?

If we are going to be blamed for “signals’ we send to men to rape us, I think we deserve to be given this list so it won’t be left to subjective views of how women dress and behave.

Care2 also has a post on it with some good comparisons to other crimes.

Misogyny in the USA, Men bounce back from the “mancession” & Media-driven body dissatisfaction

The following links come from an email alert from The Women’s Media Center.

Misogyny Cuts Across All Cultures: Oppression in the West and Arab World
2/20/2011
Huffington Post:Are women in the Arab world “worse-off” than in the West? An editorial examines the ways in which oppression and misogyny cut across every culture, and how media handles the issue.

Excerpt:

I do not want to live in a country that forces me to smother myself in veils, a country that threatens me with violence for an inch of visible wrist, a country that does not allow me to vote or drive.

For the record, I also do not feel safe in a country with a House of Representatives that is capable of canceling all funding for Planned Parenthood — which happened in the House just a day ago. I do not feel safe knowing that in South Dakota, Republicans proposed a bill that could make it legal to murder a doctor who provides abortion care to women.

The state legislature of Georgia would like to change the legal term for victims of rape, stalking and domestic violence to “accuser” — in effect, denying victims their right to accurate representation by description.

In Congress, Republicans have put forward a bill that would force hospitals to let a woman die rather than perform an abortion that would save her life.

Programs for low-income women and children are being slashed left and right and MoveOn reports that there is a move to eliminate all funding for the only extant federal family planning program — though there is a bill that promotes contraception for wild horses. (For human women, they are neigh-sayers.)

Misogyny keeps this country’s brutality to women — rape, murder and domestic violence — at staggering levels, along with the pitched battle against a woman’s right to control her own body, her right to choose.

That women often do not support each other or offer sympathy for abusive treatment of other women is indeed part of the problem — witness the reaction of some female journalists to the attack on Lara Logan.

Men bounce back faster from recession’s unequal blows
2/21/2011
Miami Herald: After the recession of the late 2000s, the early stages of the economic recovery are benefitting men far more than women. While men have gained438,000 jobs since June 2009, women have lost 366,000 over the same period.

African-American Women Less Vulnerable to Media-Driven Body Dissatisfaction
2/21/2011
University of Florida News: As National Eating Disorders Awareness Week gets underway, a University of Florida researchers emphasizes a 2010 study that shows African-American women are less susceptible to pressure from mainstream media about their body image.

Reporting – and many other jobs or activities – while female

There’s an article in the New York Times today about “Reporting While Female” by Sabrina Tavernise. Indeed, women human rights defenders face the same risks as reporters:

But women reporters face another set of challenges. We are often harassed in ways that male colleagues are not. This is a hazard of the job that most of us have experienced and few of us talk about.

Last week, CBS News said that its reporter Lara Logan was assaulted by a crowd of men in Cairo. CBS News did not detail the circumstances, but the network’s statement — that she had suffered a “brutal and sustained sexual assault” — said enough.

And, not only do reporters and women human rights defenders face these challenges but also Peace Corps Volunteers and many other women working, volunteering or travelling abroad. I’ve travelled quite a bit and have been harassed by men – groped, cat-called, and looked at like a lion looks at their prey. But I’d also caution that these actions happen in the US too – men asking women to show their breasts or butts, men  touching women inappropriatedly, or – as many of us female bloggers face – crude and threatening sexist remarks on our posts.

But – getting back on topic – the NY Times ran another piece similar to the above referenced artice:

Why we need women in war zones 

Look at the articles about women who set themselves on fire in Afghanistan to protest their arranged marriages, or about girls being maimed by fundamentalists, about child marriage in India, about rape in Congo and Haiti. Female journalists often tell those stories in the most compelling ways, because abused women are sometimes more comfortable talking to them. And those stories are at least as important as accounts of battles.

There is an added benefit. Ms. Logan is a minor celebrity, one of the highest-profile women to acknowledge being sexually assaulted. Although she has reported from the front lines, the lesson she is now giving young women is probably her most profound: It’s not your fault. And there’s no shame in telling it like it is.

Media’s role in marital rape

This is an excellent piece by Arthur Okwemba about marital rape in Kenya. He talks about the silence from the media when it comes to reporting on gender-based violence. While written about Kenya, it could pertain to any country.

Media’s role in marital rape by Arthur Okwemba

You can find the Gender and Media Progress Study that he references here.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

This may be one of the reasons why the 2010 Gender and Media Progress Study found that stories about gender-based violence are rarely covered by media, accounting for just four percent of all stories in southern Africa, despite countless other studies which note it is a widespread problem.

When rare stories are produced about young or middle-aged women being raped, journalists usually shift their reporting, suggesting that somehow the women “asked for it”.

Questions arise. What was she wearing? Was she drunk? Where did it happen? Should she have been there? What time of night was it?

Similarly, when a woman is killed or battered by her husband, the story is framed as a love triangle gone wrong.

Rarely do reporters dig deeper to investigate causes or patterns of violence, linking them to poverty levels, lack of human rights protections (or knowledge of them), or legal systems that take forever to hear and pass verdict on cases of gender-based violence.

Rarely do media report on the massive cost of gender-based violence in terms of treatment of injuries and sexually-transmitted disease, not to mention missed work hours.

What about the invisible but extensive cost to our society when this cycle of violence is passed down from absent abusive fathers to their children. Why don’t journalists write about this?

In the mindset of many in the media, gender-based violence  is not an issue worthy of paper and ink.