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Tag Archives: blaming the wimmens

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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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

 
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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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Alasdair Thompson tells it like it is

Employers and Manufacturers Association chief Alasdair Thompson has answered a question feminists have been struggling with for years – why is it that in this day and age, women still earn less than men?

Well, gee. Could it be that employers always assume that women are in it for a job, not a career, and that job will be dropped the second they fill their womb? Is it that women are consistently undermined in the office and often have to work much harder than their male counterparts to gain the same acceptance and respect? Could it be that many large corporations are still, in many ways, an old boys’ club? Is it that women are always assumed to be the primary caregiver, at all times, and therefore employers automatically assume that the mother will be the one to take the time off when their child is sick/has an important event at school/etc?

Nope.

Alasdair Thompson is sticking by his claim the gender pay gap is due to women having monthly “sick problems”, babies and needing to take extra leave.

…oh. Right.

Leaving aside the blatant cissexism of that statement for just a moment (not everyone who has a uterus is a woman and not all women menstruate, kthx): say it with me, Alasdair Thompson: period. We get our periods once a month. We menstruate. If you have to use ridiculous euphemisms to describe it, then as far as I’m concerned, you forfeit your right to discuss it.

Not to mention, the majority of people who menstruate don’t have to take time off once a month. Most, even if they do experience some cramps, can pop a Panadol and make it to work anyway.*

And babies? REALLY? This may come as a shock to you, Mr. Thompson, but some parents SHARE the responsibilities of their children. Also, solo fathers exist. Should we pay them less, too? And if there are still a shockingly disproportionate amount of working mothers who are still expected to take full- or almost-full responsibility for childcare, rather than sharing that equally with their partner — then blaming and underpaying women will not fucking help that, goddamn.

The issue of working mothers and pay rates for women is a vicious cycle. Women are paid less than men because their dedication to their career is seen as lesser, because ladies, your first priority is and must always be babies — but because they’re paid less, they are often the ones to give up working if their family situation calls for it (because them giving up work, or cutting back their hours, will make less of an impact due to the lower pay rate) — which just convinces employers that women are less dedicated to their careers than men… and over and over again.

So Alasdair Thompson, it would seem that you are woefully misinformed about the realities of the pay gap between men and women. And why shouldn’t you be? After all, it’s not like in your position, you would ever have to think about these things. Or be expected to make public statements on this very issue. Am I right?

No, wait. I don’t think I am.

*I am not one of those people. I have severe PCOS and am absolutely crippled by pain at least one day a month – usually two or three. I take a TON of sick days, comparative to my colleagues — who are mostly (over 90%) female. And yet, it doesn’t make a damn iota of difference to my pay rate — if I use up my allocated sick days, I can either take annual leave or have an unpaid day (I tend to take the annual leave). While realising this is in no way an option for everyone, taking a few days of unpaid sick leave each year will NOT drastically affect your salary in the way that, you know, discrimination will. Just saying.

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2011 in Reproductive/sexual health

 

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