Monthly Archives: August 2011

Who Are You, Bush Bar?

*Trigger warning for rape/sexual assault

You know, I have a fair few problems with the Who Are You? campaign—problems that I won’t reiterate, as I think the main ones are actually already articulated pretty well by Tallulah here—but right now, today, this week, I want to download the video to my iPhone and play it on repeat. I want to play it to every single person framing the rape of a seventeen-year-old girl at the Bush Bar in Christchurch as an issue with teenage drinking. I want to play it to every single person trotting out the tired old victim-blaming lines of Well she was drunk/slutty/underage, what did she expect? I want to play it to the media who are finding it pertinent to ask, “Who should have protected the 17 yr old? The pub, the mother or herself?”**

But most of all, I want to play it to the owners, management and staff of the Bush Bar. I want to ask them who they are, and why they could not walk a teenage girl who was too drunk to stand ten metres to a taxi, or call a friend or family member. I want to know how they can justify a complete disregard for the safety of a vulnerable young woman on their premises by stating that they were “just following what the law states”.

So tell me, Bush Bar: in this scenario, who were you? And who will you be next time?

**There is a very important—one may even say key—player missing from this scenario. Hint: it’s the rapist.

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Posted by on August 29, 2011 in Rape/Sexual Assault


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Highlighting myths about rape

Great article in The Wellingtonian this week: Myths about rape. (And no, I don’t just think it’s great because I was interviewed for it!)

It’s nice, for once, to see an article talking about sexual assault without quoting someone who thinks those brazen sluts should just take responsibility when they’re assaulted, and I’m genuinely thrilled to see someone focusing on the idea that we need more comprehensive sexual education — which was something I was really pushing in the lead-up to SlutWalk, and which no one really seemed to want to listen to.

What really interested me, though, was the statistics at the end of the article. Up-to-date statistics on rape and sexual assault in New Zealand aren’t easily found, so it was great to see such recent figures:

Rape Crisis client statistics for the period July 2010 to June 2011 (statistics include reported cases of both rape and sexual abuse):

– More than half of sexual abuse victims reported the offender was a partner, family member or friend.

– Only 2 per cent of attacks were attributed to someone the victim met on the night of the offence.

– Just 3 per cent of attacks were attributed to strangers.

Using my powers of advanced mathematics, if 3% of attacks are committed by strangers and 2% are committed by someone met the night of the attack, then that leaves 95% of sexual assaults committed by someone previously known to the victim.

So can somebody please explain to me why the hell we are still framing rape and sexual assault in terms of stranger-rape? Those numbers are actually pretty damn hard to ignore.

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Posted by on August 20, 2011 in Media, Rape/Sexual Assault


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MJ’s SlutWalk Aotearoa Speech: Civic Square, Wellington, June 25th 2011

I should have published this ages ago—I didn’t, and I apologise. Behind the jump is my speech from SlutWalk Aotearoa… as close as I can remember it, as I did a bit of ad-libbing. If anyone took any audio/video recordings on the day, please flick them through to me! ♥

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Posted by on August 15, 2011 in Personal, Rape/Sexual Assault, SlutWalk


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An open letter to Cosmo magazine

Dear Cosmopolitan magazine:

It was with some trepidation that I read an article on your website, A New Kind of Date Rape. My wariness, prior to reading, was based on the byline of the article: Casual hookups, mixed signals, and alcohol play a part in a confusing form of sexual assault. Here, everything you need to know about what some people call gray rape.

The idea of a ‘gray area’ when it comes to rape and sexual assault is a dangerous one. There is no undefined area between consensual and non-consensual sexual activity, and for you to publish that idea in such a widespread magazine is, amongst other things, grossly irresponsible. In a society that still has such widespread misogyny, on the back of a worldwide movement of SlutWalks that has brought the message “Yes means yes, no means no” to the forefront of the general public, to publish an article perpetuating the myth that there are ‘degrees’ of consent is, frankly, disturbing.

What especially horrified me, though, is that in the first story in this article, Alicia* clearly says “no” twice. The idea that someone who says no to sex—more than once—and is ignored could fall into a ‘gray area’ is indicative of the types of misconceptions around rape and sexual assault.

A magazine with such a wide readership as yours does have a responsibility to its readers. Perhaps instead of perpetuating some of the more dangerous parts of rape culture, you could try debunking a few? Write an article about active consent. Write an article about how police treat victims of sexual assault—quizzing them on their dress, their drink, their sexuality and sexual history; and how they only bother doing that much if it’s a woman assaulted by a man. Write an article, for once, on what sexual assault really is.

But please, please, no more articles about the ‘gray area’ between consensual sex and rape. That’s victim blaming. That’s rape culture. That’s damaging.

Kind regards,
MJ (Kiwiana)
Founder and coordinator of SlutWalk Aotearoa


Posted by on August 14, 2011 in Media, Rape/Sexual Assault


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Fuck your scare quotes, Stuff

Trigger warning for domestic violence

As an Angry Queer Feminist Blogger, there are a lot of things that make me ranty-pants. My poor flatmates put up with a lot of shouting and rage from me over various things—and one of my surefire buttons is the use of scare quotes in the media. To that end, the flatmates (well, the awake one, who is currently baking me cookies, bless his soul) have just been treated to a lot of flailing about an article on Stuff today: Family violence ‘victim’ breaks policewoman’s jaw. My rage hasn’t really dissipated upon actually reading the article—first of all, because it’s quite clear from the first three paragraphs that the police officers were not dealing with a ‘victim’, but a victim. And yes, that distinction—the use of scare quotes, versus not—is bloody important.

The female victim tried to physically intervene as the two male officers attempted to arrest the male, Taupo police area commander, inspector Steve Bullock said.

“The female officer was verbally and physically assaulted as she attempted to hold her back, receiving a kick to her face in the process.”

And of course, rounding out the article is a healthy dose of solid victim blaming:

“Unfortunately this is a sad example of a case where police are called to help a victim and end up becoming a victim instead.”

Police attend a number of family violence callouts each night, usually where alcohol is a factor, Bullock said.

“Sadly, despite being a victim in a violent situation, many choose not to take further action or attempt to prevent Police from doing their job, as happened in this case.”

Oh, just… I’m sorry that not every victim of domestic violence reacts the way that would make your job easiest. Am I the only one that is getting really sick of reading police whining in the news about how victims are reluctant to press charges against their husbands, their boyfriends, the father of their children, as though this is somehow goddamn shocking. I get that you want to help*. Trust me, I understand that it must be really bloody frustrating to see a situation where someone is clearly suffering and have that person refuse to let you help them. But by failing to understand the very complicated relationships that victims of domestic violence have with their abusers, by refusing to acknowledge the emotional manipulations that many abusers use against their victims to keep them emotionally separated from their family and friends or convince them that they’re not worth anything better or no one will believe them if they come forward, or by flat-out ignoring the fact that many people have very solid reasons to believe that they cannot trust the police, you cannot hope to gain even the slightest headway on a systematic problem.

At least the police aren’t using scare quotes, I suppose. Once again: fuck your scare quotes, Stuff.

*Except when the abuser is white, upper-middle class, and/or an all-round Good GuyTM. Then it’s far more likely that the victim will be encouraged to not press charges at all.

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Posted by on August 14, 2011 in Domestic violence, Media


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