Women’s opinions matter

Here’s a post discussing NY Times’ writer Nicolas Kristof’s suggestion for having more women on the op-ed pages:

New York Times’ Kristof: To get social issues on the agenda, get them on the op-ed pages

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

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.

Charlie Sheen: Hollywood’s highest paid misogynist

The other day, on a talk show, I heard a host say Charlie Sheen was displaying arrogance, selfishness and anti-Semitism. And, I thought, how about misogyny?

It’s on blatant display both in his personal and work life. I stopped watching Two and a half men when they started having so many scantily-clad women on the show – I had been putting up with the horribly negative stereotypes of women (and often enough, men), but the stupid but perty women did me in.

And then today – finally, New York Times writer David Carr – and hallelujah it’s a male!! – wakes the public up to the misogyny in Sheen’s personal life:

Insulting Chuck Lorre, Not Abuse, Gets Sheen Sidelined

In 2006, his wife at the time, Denise Richards, filed a restraining order, charging that Mr. Sheen had pushed her down, thrown chairs at her and threatened to kill her in person and on the phone. The couple eventually divorced.

Mr. Sheen then had a series of very public relationships with sex film stars, which is certainly his prerogative — talent is as talent does — but he also continued to exhibit a pattern of violence toward women.

Mr. Sheen was charged with a felony for an incident on Christmas Day in 2009 in which he threatened to kill his wife, Brooke Mueller, while holding a knife to her throat. According to the police report, Mr. Sheen “started to strangle Mueller then he pulled out a knife he always carries on his person and held the knife to Mueller’s neck and threatened, ‘You better be in fear. If you tell anybody I’ll kill you.’ ”

Last fall, Mr. Sheen went on a rampage in the Plaza Hotel in New York. A hired escort who had locked herself in the bathroom claimed he had put his hands around her neck and threatened her while his former wife Ms. Richards and his children slept down the hall.

Yet none of these incidents got Mr. Sheen fired from his lucrative day job as a sitcom star, not even suspended. What did? He insulted his boss.

 Mr. Carr, we are familiar with this scenario. Violence against women teeters on one of the lowest rungs on the ladder of priority, especially when it comes to men who are celebrities, politicians, athletes, or anyone whose career is more important than assaulting women (and that includes almost all men). Even harming animals (remember Michael Vick?) gets more outrage than harming women. So, insulting a boss? Yeah, far more important than harming women.

Carr mentions some men who’ve lost their jobs due to committing violence against women; but in my experience, many men (even police officers with guns) get to keep their jobs and hit their women, too. (I’ll try to put some resources up on a post later.) After this, Carr says:

Is Mr. Sheen excused because he manufactures laughs, not widgets, for a living? For years on the show, Mr. Sheen has been playing to type as a naughty boy in a man’s body: the result was often scabrous and funny and a hit in the ratings. It also fits another depressing pattern. From “Animal House” to Howard Stern, from “Pretty Woman” to “The Hangover,” Hollywood has long had a soft spot for male misbehavior and, in claiming to parody childish misogyny, it seems to provide an excuse to indulge in it further.

Women who lie, and the men that put them up to it

Okay, I give – I’ll post an article on women who lie…and the men that put them up to it:

Abuse suspects, Your calls are taped. Speak up.

The men charged with beating, stabbing or burning their wives or girlfriends have plenty to say. Lately, their words have been used against them in New York courts as never before.

Please read this article – it really is revealing. As one advocate from my list serv said, maybe we’ll get past the silly “he said, she said” and realize, quite often, it’s he said, he said.

“We have the ability now,” Mr. Kessler said, “to prove what we’ve always suspected, which is that the defendants in domestic violence cases are in constant contact with their victims, and they use various means and methods to try to have the case dropped.”

The jailhouse calls are almost always flagrant violations of court orders directing men charged with domestic violence not to contact the women who were attacked.

Deirdre Bialo-Padin, the domestic violence bureau chief in the Brooklyn district attorney’s office, said the tapes gave jurors a vivid understanding of men who can be masters of manipulation.

In one Brooklyn case, she said, the defendant has called the victim from jail 1,200 times.

In the cases in which victims stop cooperating with prosecutors, the recordings plug crucial holes. District attorneys use the recordings partly to explain why injured women are not testifying for the prosecution.

In those instances, the law often permits prosecutors to introduce statements — that would otherwise be barred — made by the victims to the police or hospital workers before they stopped working with prosecutors, including identification of attackers and descriptions of the attacks.

The Mismeasure of Woman

Great op-ed in the New York Times in regard to measuring the status of women in light of the recent Shriver Report. Here’s an excerpt on a topic that really riles me up:

The mismeasure of woman

…The Internet gave everyone a soapbox. The louder, the more offensive, the better.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that exactly at this moment, women began losing ground — and not just in measurable ways, like how many women make partner or get jobs as chief executives.

I’m referring to how we are perceived. The conversation online about women, as about so many other topics, degenerated from silly and snarky to just plain ugly — and it seeped into the mainstream.

Recently, before a TV appearance, I did an Internet search on one of the interviewers so I could learn more about her — and got a full page of results about her breasts.

This was hardly an isolated incident. Whether it’s Keith Olbermann of MSNBC calling Michelle Malkin, the conservative blogger, “a big mashed-up bag of meat with lipstick on it,” or Glenn Beck of Fox News suggesting that “ugly women” are probably “progressive as well,” women these days are portrayed as either witches or bimbos, with pretty much no alternatives in between.

I’ve been puzzled by these screeds, which are so at odds with the real achievements documented in the Shriver Report and elsewhere. And then it struck me: Part of the reason we’ve lost our way, part of the reason my generation became complacent, is that many of us have been defining progress for women too narrowly. We’ve focused primarily on numbers at the expense of attitudes.

I’ve “boycotted” radio stations for their lewd comments on breasts, been offended by commercials in their stereotypes of women, been outraged by movies for their sexual exploitation, and, more recently, been left incredulous at TV stations’ bashing of women.  It’s perfectly okay to call women hos, whores, skanks, baby mamas, bitches, etc. on TV. Why is this okay?! Moreover, it’s leeked into print media. My local paper recently referred to women as #@%#$#. WTF is up with that? It’s a newspaper, not a forum for female hatred. Attitudes need to change…and we all know how long that takes. So it’s time to get to work – for the sake of future generations if not our own.

The nice guy in the mirror

I’ve written about how shocked I am about news stories that refer to “nice guys” that “snap” (quite inexplicably!) and kill their wife or girlfriend and sometimes their children.  Well, here is another like-minded writer that puts her thoughts about media bias down on paper, er, the keyboard, and gets slammed by a bunch of white guys (read the comment section): Why Are We Surprised When White Preppy Guys Turn Out to be Serial Killers? 

The New York Daily Newsdescribed Markoff as “clean cut” and “a high-achieving dentist’s son.” The Boston Globealso described the shaggy-haired Markoff as “clean cut” — as did countless other media outlets. Politico.comcalled Markoff “all-American,” while the Associated Press and dozens of others called him “handsome”; PR Insider said, simply, that “by all appearances, he had it all.”

“By all appearances” – superficially, maybe, but reality tells another story:

After all, given the available information, Markoff could have been painted as weird, anti-social, woman-hater, irresponsible, deeply in debt, broke and in the midst of eviction from his apartment. He could have been presented as a stone-faced, emotionless creep who scared classmates by forcing kisses on them and had a long history of strange behavior.

Well, that would be dependent on your own perspective (how often have you heard men talk about other men being “woman-haters” or misogynist?) and who you interview (neighbors, class mates or those who are actually close to the person).

I’ll say it again, in plain language: In the mythology of white male editors, guys like Markoff don’t kill. They golf. With newspaper editors. Most of whom look like Markoff.

Yeah. I’ve yet to read about a Black male who commits violence described in the media as “charming,” or “clean cut.” Editors are not as kind with Black criminals as they are with White criminals and it comes down to their bias, which is then spread like an epidemic to readers.

The media has long been in the business of selling perception over truth, especially when it comes to issues of race, socioeconomic class and sex. If you wish to know the myths and prejudices of a time, read its newspapers. If you wish for the truths, read its poetry.

Well said.