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Tag Archives: no faith in humanity

No, seriously, please stop bringing up false accusations when we talk about rape

So, there’s a bit of a kerfuffle (trigger warning for victim blaming, rape apologism, ableism, and general fuckwittery if you choose to go to the link) going on over on the Frankie Magazine facebook page at the moment regarding the use of the term “eye-raping” in one of their articles. It started off pretty standard—someone brought it up, it got a lot of likes, the magazine posted a pretty gross fauxpology, people responded to that.

Earlier today, it probably had about a dozen comments. Then I went to take a nap and, while I was snoozing, it exploded into a messy, derailing attempt to fill the anti-feminist bingo card. But at some point in the middle of it, after I woke up and for some bizarre reason decided to give rational discussion a go (before I was told that I should go back to swinging my man decapitator, and that I keep my husband’s testicles locked up in the drawer by my bed), I ended up posting about why it’s fucked up to try and turn the focus onto false rape allegations when rape is being discussed. I’m posting it here for posterity, because it is an important discussion to have, but also because the way that thread is going I’m guessing it will soon be gone.

The reason people get pissed off when someone comes into a discussion about rape with “but some women lie about being raped!” is that it’s a very common derailing tactic. It’s not relevant to the discussion, it doesn’t add anything of value; all it does is shift the focus of conversation from the huge number of sexual assaults committed (seriously, one in four women, one in eight men, one in two trans* people, and 60-90% of people with disabilities is a huge frickin’ number), to a discussion of false rape reports that are very much in the minority. False rape reports occur at the same rate as other false reports, and that’s before you take into consideration that the vast majority of sexual assault goes unreported in the first place. And funnily enough, it doesn’t seem to happen with any other type of crime. When I’m talking about a string of burglaries in my neighbourhood, no one has ever chimed in with “well, you know, some people make a false burglary report to get insurance money”. When someone gets beaten up on Courtenay Place on a Saturday night, I’ve never seen a Stuff commenter talk about their “sister’s boyfriend’s cousin who pretended he’d been beaten up because he wanted to get back at his mate”. Yet, somehow, in every discussion about rape that takes place, people feel the need to bring up false rape reports as though they are somehow just as, or more, important than the fact that, if we look ONLY at the sexual assault cases reported to the police last year (remembering that anywhere from 40-90% of sexual assaults go unreported), then nine people a day were raped in New Zealand in the year ending June 2012.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been told that false rape accusations are “the real issue here” when discussing the shockingly prevalent sexual assault rates we have in New Zealand. And I am all for discussing the issue of false rape accusations—as a separate issue to sexual assault. I’m all for it, as long as we’re discussing actual false rape accusations, not reports that are later retracted because the victim can’t face trial, or is pressured into recanting (by family, friends of their attacker, etc), or situations where it goes to trial and the accused is found not guilty.

But please, for the love of all that is good and holy, stop derailing discussions about rape and sexual assault with your “what about those bitches who cry rape and ruin men’s lives” bullshit. It’s not helpful, it’s not conducive to a reasonable discussion, and it makes you look like a giant jackass.

Unless, of course, that’s what you’re going for—in which case, carry on, you’re doing a great job.

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Posted by on March 1, 2013 in Rape/Sexual Assault

 

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The Bystander Effect and Photojournalism

Trigger warning for violence on this post, including domestic violence.

Just before my nineteenth birthday, I got jumped by gang members.

This is simultaneously more and less thrilling than it sounds. I lived next door to a few of them; my only issue with them was the constant loud and late parties. But one Sunday afternoon they were itching for a fight, and I was the one with the shit luck of answering the door. I got dragged outside by my hair and as the kicking and punching sounded, my survival instincts kicked in, and I screamed my head off. I kept screaming as loudly and continuously as my lungs would let me; well aware that I was in a somewhat secluded courtyard and no one would be able to see me, but they might be able to hear me. My flatmates came to my rescue and got me back inside, although not before I’d lost most of my hair, and sustained two black eyes, a scratched cornea, a fractured cheekbone, and bruised ribs. I was lucky. It could have easily been so, so much worse.

The thing that still haunts me about the experience is not the beating itself. Those wounds heal, and the only real reminder I have of that now is the way I still tense up if someone touches my head. The thing I still think about is that there were two other flats on my property, with about fifteen residents between them. We were surrounded by houses. And not one person who didn’t live with me came over, or rang the police. If I’d been home alone, I could have been killed.

Just before Christmas my partner and I went outside around 11pm on a Saturday night for some fresh air, just because it was stifling hot in our apartment. We live in an apartment building in the middle of the Wellington CBD; what we gain in convenience, we lose in the noise of buses and drunk partygoers hollering outside our window in the wee small hours. Across the street, there were two men and a woman, and a lot of shouting. At first we thought it was probably just drunken loudness; it wasn’t until one of the guys began slamming the other into the window behind him that we realised it was nothing of the sort. I rang 111 while my partner grabbed a supermarket security guard, who went over to try and defuse the situation. Plenty of people walked past us both without even glancing over the road.

The Bystander Effect has been widely studied. In a nutshell, the more people who witness something, the less likely it is that any one of them will take action.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot today, because of a link that came up on my Facebook feed. There is a serious trigger warning for domestic violence on this, but if you have the spoons, this series, “Shane and Maggie”, is a series of images by photojournalist Sara Naomi Lewkowicz that depict an incident of domestic violence. In the photographer’s own words:

I had been photographing a couple, Shane and Maggie, since September. I had originally intended the story to center on their struggles trying to make ends meet, as Shane has a lengthy criminal record that has prevented him from obtaining steady employment. One night, Shane and Maggie got into a fight, and Shane began to physically abuse Maggie, slamming her up against walls and choking her in front of her two-year-old daughter, Memphis. He had taken our cellular phones, so I reached into his pocket and steal my phone back when he was distracted. I handed my phone to another adult who was in the house,and instructed them to call the police. I then continued to document the abuse. In that moment, my instincts as a photojournalist kicked in. I knew I had to stay with the story and document it in all of its ugly truth. I have continued to follow Maggie since the abuse, and am producing a multimedia piece as well as a still series.

There has long been discussion about photojournalists in war zones and areas of abject famine; photojournalists who have ended up taking their own lives, due in at least some part to the intense criticism levelled at them for taking images rather than helping. These criticisms are valid, but at the same time, I think I can understand why you would need to learn how to switch off your emotions somewhat if you were constantly faced with the worst of human suffering. I can empathise with that, even if I don’t agree with it.

Sara Naomi Lewkowicz is not in a war zone. She is not facing horrors most of us could hardly imagine and will never experience, day in and day out. She is a photographer who, when faced with a young woman being choked and beaten in front of her two-year-old daughter, did not freeze in fear. She had the presence of mind to steal back her cell phone—and then hand it to someone else to call the police so that she could continue to take photos of the event.

That is a conscious decision.

Can I say how I would have acted or reacted in the same situation? Probably not. Can I sympathise with a woman who is not prepared to throw herself into the middle of a violent situation? Fuck yes, I can. But the concept of someone standing there taking photos while a woman is choked and beaten, of letting a child stand there and watch this take place, makes me sick to my stomach.

If it was anyone but a photojournalist, there would be an uproar. If I witnessed an assault on the street and, instead of intervening or calling the police, whipped out my iPhone and got snap-happy, I would (rightly) be castigated for it. But because these pictures were taken by a photojournalist, instead, it is seen as perfectly acceptable to make a project out of it.

That shit just doesn’t fly with me, sorry.

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2013 in Domestic violence, Media, Personal

 

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Man’s disbelief that his brother would sexually assault a minor (alternative title: let me do that journalism thing for you, Stuff)

“Justice has been done,” said the brother of a Nelson man who was yesterday found guilty of indecently assaulting his stepdaughter after a second trial.

The Nelson District Court heard how the man stroked her right breast while watching television in the lounge of their Nelson home, and later in her bedroom indecently touched her and kissed her back on December 30, 2009.

The perpetrator has steadfastly denied the charges, saying the indecent assaults did not happen.

After a three-day retrial, a jury of six men and women yesterday reached a unanimous guilty verdict on the charge relating to stroking the girl’s breast and majority verdicts on the two other charges of indecently touching her and kissing her back.

A long-time friend said: “I just can’t believe it. It shows no matter how well or how long you know someone, you can never really know what they might be capable of.”

The perpetrator’s brother said: “This young woman was incredibly brave, not only to report the incident but to go through with not one, but two trials. What an incredibly difficult thing to do after being sexually assaulted by her stepfather, a man who was in a position of trust over her.”

The perpetrator had been found guilty of the same charges after the first trial in May last year.

He was then sentenced to 15 months’ imprisonment but did not go to jail as he was released on bail when an appeal was lodged.

At the second trial this week the jury was told it was a retrial, but not why.

It can now be revealed that the Appeal Court quashed his convictions in the first trial and ordered the retrial.

His previous lawyer Jonathan Eaton made the successful appeal but the Appeal Court in its judgment last December suppressed publication of the proceedings and the result until the outcome of the retrial.

The man has been remanded on bail for sentencing on November 13.

Or if you hate yourself, read the actual article on Stuff: Accused’s brother ‘in disbelief’ at verdict. I’ve cut out the twelve lines that were dedicated to the perpetrator’s sob story.

Oh, and special props to Laura Bisham for not once, not twice, not thrice, but four fucking times referring to a man who has now been found guilty twice of sexually assaulting a minor as “the accused”. Thanks so much for that not-at-all-biased-or-victim-blaming language you used, there.

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2012 in Rape/Sexual Assault

 

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When I hate myself, I search the feminism tag on Tumblr

Content note: rape, abortion

The feminism tag on Tumblr. It’s, like 50% awesome feminist people saying good things, and 50% fuckwit MRA-types. The better half knows when I’m on the feminism tag, because at least once, I’ll start beating my head against the headboard.

And then, today, there was this. (Emphasis mine)

Rape is hard. Rape is life ruining and rape is tough. It’s horrific and cruel and any human being who has done it is clearly sick in the head. But sweethearts let me tell you that curling up and screaming over the internet is not going to get that person in jail. Screaming and yelling is not going to make you feel any better. Having that abortion only makes you weaker. Why? Because you basically gave up. You threw in the towel and quit the fight.

Let’s just say you get raped and you get pregnant. You’re broken and depressed and you feel useless. You have two roads. You can a) have an abortion because it’s easier and it’s simpler and you’ll have your friends to back you up. Or b) Keep that child. Because you know that deep in your heart that even though that child came from horrific circumstances, you will raise him/her to be better than his/her father.

If you take that first road, you are giving your rapist the power. You are telling your rapists that he won. You’re telling your rapist that it was fine that he violated your body because you were going to give up anyway. Because you are “strong”. No. In this case you are weak and spineless. You couldn’t stand up to a nameless face.

Now if you take that second road, I promise you dear you will shine in whole new way for me. Because you showed your rapist that you don’t care. You have shown him that you will not be defeated. Think about that. While you’re on your way to getting an abortion. If you keep that child, you are telling your rapist that you are stronger than the obstacles he has thrown your way.

On the topic of rape…

Like I said before, rape is a horrible and miserable thing. But it’s not an excuse to wallow in self-pity. It’s your time to shine and prove that you have a backbone.

Again if you are raped you have two roads, a) You give in and cry and scream and wallow in pity. You get coddled by friends and family. You write in a sappy diary. You eat tons of ice cream. But you have also given up. You (just like the pregnant victims) are telling your rapists that you can be walked over. That you aren’t strong. You’re breaking your own heart. You have proven yourself to be weak and spineless.

Now path two will always be brighter. Because then you’ll be showing your rapist that you don’t care. You’ll be walking with your head high. You won’t be at Slutwalks, because you’re too busy moving on with your life. You don’t have time to cry to the internet, because you’re too busy learning to love again.

Trust me on this. Having that abortion or just giving in will never help you. Because you’re not being a strong man or woman. You’re being weak, afraid and frail. And last time I checked, human beings were meant to be none of those things.

I. Can’t. Even.

I really want to write a coherent response to this, but I’m too busy shaking with rage.

I really want to make “rape is your time to shine” a tag, though.

 
 

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Signal Boost: hate pages on Facebook

Trigger warning for just about every -ism you can conceive. This post is about the prevalence of hate groups on Facebook. Also an added trigger warning for discussions of rape and abuse in the comments.

Addendum 25/09/2011: Scar has quite rightly pointed out in the comments that this list doesn’t contain any hate pages against trans* folk. This was an oversight on my part—at the time I posted the link to this page, I simply didn’t have the spoons to read through the whole list, and I take full responsibility for this. My heartfelt apologies to anyone who felt erased by this—obviously as it is not my list I can’t do a lot about it, however I will definitely keep it in mind when I am linking pages in the future.

Good Gravey has posted The big, bad list of hate-pages yet to be reported (plus the success stories) on his Tumblr. Those of you who follow/like/whatever-the-kids-are-calling-it-nowadays the SlutWalk Aotearoa Facebook page will know that I and the other moderators of the page will often post the links to Facebook pages that perpetuate rape culture; however the sad truth is that the list Good Gravey has provided here is, simply put, too long to deal with individually.

Facebook have outrighted stated that in their opinion, pages that threaten rape are no worse than a bawdy pub joke. According to Facebook’s statistics page, there are over 750 million users currently on Facebook. If we assume a gender balance, and we also assume the often-touted statistics that one in four women and one in eight men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, there are over 140 million survivors of sexual assault actively using Facebook.* To ignore them in favour of stating that “It is very important to point out that what one person finds offensive another can find entertaining” is a horrific marginilisation of a huge part of your users.

And this doesn’t just stand for rape culture, either. The only way to even stand a chance of being taken seriously is to report each one of these disgusting pages that promotes racism, sexism, rape culture, cissexism, classism, ableism and any other -ism you can conceive.

Again, the full list is here and I would encourage those of you with the spoons to report, report, report as much as possible. There is currently a success rate (i.e. the pages now show as uanvailable/removed) of ~9%. This is could, but we can try to make it better.

*If anyone wants to check my math (it is rather late): 750,000,000 users = 375,000,000 women and 375,000,000 men.
375,000,000 x ¼ = 93,750,000
375,000,000 x ⅛ = 46,875,000
93,750,000 + 46,875,000 = 140,625,000

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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How To Get Away With Murder (or at least sexual assault)

Trigger warning for rape/sexual assault/paedophilia

This is a blog post for all the rapists and paedophiles out there. Next time you are planning on sexually assaulting a four-year-old child—even if you plead guilty—there is a surefire way to make sure you are discharged without conviction.

See, according to Judge Philippa Cunningham, you just need to be “a talented New Zealander” who “makes people laugh”. Because “laughter’s an incredible medicine that we all need a lot of.”

We need laughter more than we need to protect our children from being sexually abused, apparently.

Here we have a man who pleaded guilty to performing an indecent act on a child (after originally being charged with unlawful sexual connection with a person aged under 12). Here we also have a judge who, despite this plea, has discharged him without conviction—which means, despite pleading guilty, this will not appear on his criminal record—because the consequences of a conviction would outweigh the gravity of the offence.

Take note, abusers. If you’re famous and funny and talented, it’s totally okay to sexually abuse your child. Because we need more laughter in the world, and that’s more important than convicting people who sexually assault children.

Also just a housekeeping note, because this has already cropped up on the SlutWalk Aotearoa Facebook page: while this case and everything surrounding it makes me fucking furious, the permanent name suppression does stand and as such, comments that name the comedian in question (rightly or wrongly) will not make it through moderation.

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2011 in Media, Rape/Sexual Assault

 

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My child’s life is being ruined by exposure to people who aren’t straight/white/cis/middle-class!

**Trigger warning for transphobia

In today’s edition of Agony Aunt & Uncle on Stuff, a mother of three boys has found out something “very disturbing” about one of the caregivers at the daycare her sons attend.

A friend of a friend knows her and knows that she used to be a he (and I did some digging online to confirm after I found out).

Now I don’t have a problem with transgenders but I think that a daycare should have to disclose something like this to the parents.

[…]

Worst of all, my eldest has been dressing up in girls’ clothes at kindy (I haven’t told my husband this) and I’m worried that somehow he has become confused by this person at daycare…

WON’T SOMEBODY JUST THINK OF THE CHILDREN?!?!?!

Seriously, you say you “don’t have a problem with transgenders” (as long as they never associate with your family, apparently) but your outrage (OUTRAGE!) speaks a whole lot more clearly. What has changed, now that you know that your childrens’ caregiver was not FAAB? Has the standard of care suddenly slipped? Is she teaching your children that being transgender, or gay, or even just a little bit different from what society expects you to be might actually be okay? I mean, can you IMAGINE?!

And oh, the pearl-clutching over the fact that your son is dressing up in girls’ clothes. First of all, almost all kids dress up. Most of them crossdress at least once (I mean, come on, some of those costumes are fucking AWESOME). Playing in dresses in kindergarten =/= transgender, but if your son IS trans*? A) they will not have been ~influenced by the caregiver~, and b) their life is going to be made that much fucking harder because of their having to deal with your transphobic bullshit.

The article’s one redeeming feature was the response from the Agony Uncle (who is usually pretty conservative), who basically tore her a new one. I was especially fond of this gem:

How would your pre-schooler even know the gender identity of his teacher? Is she called Brian? Does her tee-shirt say: “I used to have balls”? Is she standing up to pee?

Who’s at kindy here? Sounds like you and your husband are the ones who need to grow up.

Burn.

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2011 in Trans* issues

 

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