“Having Sex,” Part Two

October 10, 2009 § 2 Comments

Let’s talk about this New York Times article: In Polanski Case, ’70s Culture Collides With Today.

Roman Polanski’s arrest on Sept. 26 to face a decades-old charge of having sex with a 13-year-old girl stirred global furor over both Mr. Polanski’s original misdeed and the way the authorities have handled it — along with some sharp reminders that, when it comes to adult sex with the under age, things have changed. Manners, mores and law enforcement have become far less forgiving of sex crimes involving minors in the 31 years since Mr. Polanski was charged with both rape and sodomy involving drugs. He fled rather than face what was to have been a 48-day sentence after he pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor.

But if he is extradited from Switzerland, Mr. Polanski could face a more severe punishment than he did in the 1970s, as a vigorous victims’ rights movement, a family-values revival and revelations of child abuse by clergy members have all helped change the moral and legal framework regarding sex with the young. [emphasis mine]

Hey, you know what Roman Polanski didn’t do with Samantha Geimer? Have sex with her. He raped her, REMEMBER?!

I acknowledge that current consent laws are a little messy — an eighteen-year-old having consensual sex with her seventeen-year-old boyfriend constitutes statutory rape, a criminal offense. But Polanski’s case is crystal clear. He drugged and raped a thirteen-year-old despite her repeated protests. Why the fuck is more analysis necessary?

Mr. Polanski was treated by the authorities, including Judge Laurence J. Rittenband, not so much as a sexual assailant but as someone in the mold of Isaac Davis, Mr. Allen’s character from the movie “Manhattan”: that is, as a normally responsible person who had shown terrible judgment by having sex with a very young, but sophisticated, girl.

Uh, actually, that judgment would not have been nearly as terrible as what Polanski actually did — which was RAPE HER. And you know what has zero effect on the atrocity of his crime? Her fucking supposed “sophistication.”

8 Myths About Rape

October 7, 2009 § 2 Comments

Hey everyone!

I just got back from an amazing self-defense course, which was organized by my awesome WPC (Women’s Peer Counselor). Each unit (like 60 kids) at my college has a WPC, a Minority Peer Counselor, and a straight-up Residence Counselor. Aholla.

Anyway, I wanted to share the 8 myths about rape that I learned at this self-defense thing. They are very cool. They are verbatim from the packet, because I can’t phrase them better.

1. It can’t happen to me.

2. Women are powerless against rape.

3. Women secretly want to be raped.

4. Only young, attractive women get raped.

5. Only women with bad reputations are raped.

6. Only women who wear sexy, revealing clothing are raped.

7. Only women who are out alone at night get raped.

8. Rapists are sex maniacs- perverts- with overactive sex drives.

“Rape can happen to anyone…Rapists choose victims…not because of the way they are dressed, how they look or what job they hold. Rape is not a crime of sex– it is a crime of violence and control…Why would any person–male or female– want secretly to be raped, humiliated, beaten or possibly killed? That doesn’t make sense. Don’t let anyone tell you it does.”

SUCK IT victim blamers. Yeah.

“Having Sex”

September 28, 2009 § 4 Comments

Dear NPR, CNN, NY Daily News, Associated Press, and other media,

Roman Polanski was not arrested on charges of “having sex” with a 13-year-old girl. He was arrested on charges of raping a 13-year-old girl — charges to which he plead guilty.

Forcing sexual activity on a child is not sex, it is rape. Giving a child drugs and alcohol to coerce her into sexual activity is not sex, it is rape. Penetrating a child anally despite her repeated protests is not “sodomy,” it is anal rape.

Roman Polanski did not have sex with a 13-year-old. He raped her. He raped her and then he left the country to escape prosecution.

Just, you know, a little reminder: RAPE IS NOT SEX.

Thanks,
Miranda

Hearing Katie Speak

September 9, 2009 § 2 Comments

Hey everyone!

As Miranda posted earlier this summer, I packed up and went to college this fall. This is my third full day on campus, actually.

Last night, my school’s entire class of 2013 had the privilege of seeing Katie Kessler speak on the topic of sexual assault and violence. Katie is a well-known and highly effective speaker. She was raped by a date on the tenth day of her freshman year at William and Mary. The police department in VA wouldn’t give her a trial because they didn’t want to spend the money on a case that they probably wouldn’t win (Katie’s attacker had a very wealthy judge for a father), so she was merely granted a 7 hour campus trial. Her attacker was found guilty at that trial, but was allowed to stay in the college. The rapist’s girlfriend (whom he beat without reprimand) made a petition against Katie’s continued place at the school; 2,000 students (of William and Mary’s 5,000) signed it. She was voted Most Dangerous Man on the campus. “Katie is a Slut Whore Bitch” was posted on the library walls. Her parents chastised her for having a boy in her room in the first place. They have never even seen her speak. Katie was given no rape kit when she went to the school’s health services, just sleeping pills and the directive to “sleep it off.”

But Katie graduated from William and Mary. She got the school to put artwork over the slander about her in the library (it’s still there, actually). She staked out a Board meeting and popped out of the bushes to introduce herself to the Trustees. She made the committee that voted her Most Dangerous Man change the name of the contest to Most Dangerous Person. And now she jets all over the country to speak to students and government officials about her story, and is founder of the organization Take Back the Night.

Katie’s story was vivid and heartbreaking. And it really effectively communicated the complexities and nuances of acquaintance rape. But I also loved how she reminded us that her story isn’t what is necessarily important. She asked us to remember that 1 in 4 women experience sexual assault within their lifetimes. And 1 in 8 men. She asked us to look at the immensity of the issue, but also at the extreme luck that we all enjoy as young people in a college setting. And how transformative we can be within our own communities, if we actively choose to protect ourselves and our friends, listen to survivors, and watch for violence. She managed to make the point that prevention and support are necessarily both individual and community efforts. My favorite part, though, was when Katie admitted that as a white, attractive, blonde woman, she speaks from a very privileged podium. As a Christian, daughter of an FBI agent, and defiled virgin, she said, “my resume was perfect.” Women of color and transpeople do not enjoy the press she does. A victimized prostitute would not be able to speak at the Pentagon as she has.

I was happy that the kids in my class were so respective of Katie and so engaged in her story, especially after hearing a nightmarish story from a new friend who attended the Hotchkiss school, where Katie spoke last year. One boy there asked her what she expected when she invited the boy back to her room. Another asked how her sex life had been affected by the ordeal, a question which she simply refused to answer. At a single-sex boy’s high school in VA, one student said “Well look at you Katie, I would have raped you too.” I go to a liberal school, a safe school, an awesome school. There are about 3,000 women in our undergraduate program. And statistically, one in four of them will be sexually assaulted. That is 750 people that I now share a home with. That is disheartening.

But I heard something when I left those lectures that made me hopeful. As we streamed out of the talk, I heard scores of people committing to protecting one another. Mind you, we’ve known each other for three days. I heard young men and young women soaking up her message and appreciating it. One of my new friends said that he would punch anyone in the face if he observed any aggressive behaviors.

I am so happy that I got to listen to Katie. But I am even happier for the reminder that there is a whole world to listen to- my world at Brown, my world at home, my world at large. Our world at large!  

Those Ads

June 10, 2009 § 23 Comments

true blood

This is an advertisement for the second season of True Blood, a television series on HBO.

I have never seen this show, and my thoughts on this poster are difficult to articulate. But they’ve been stewing for weeks, and I know for sure that I am troubled by the combination of the sexual picture and the words “It hurts so good.” A few days ago I saw one of these on a payphone booth, and on the plastic cover was written in black marker: “Stop Domestic Violence. This Ad Is Dangerous.” I am seriously inclined to agree.

My response is complicated by my knowledge that some people achieve certain kinds of pleasure from certain kinds of pain. Some people embody the phrase on this poster. These people might be my friends, partners, teachers, or peers. They might even include my future self. I am conscious that this group, linked by sexual preferences, has a history of being demeaned and fetishized and caricatured by society, and I want no part in that degradation.

But at the same time, this advertisement scares me. Like the glamourization of dead women, this design portrays direct physical violence as something sexy. It tells boys and men that women will automatically lust after violent sexual interactions. The problem is not that women may indeed have such fantasies, and that they will have male partners who will participate — it’s that this ad sanctions sexually violent attitudes on a grand scale. In our consent-confused culture, this subtext could easily translate into an implicit excuse for sexual assault: it was hurting her good. She liked it, even if she didn’t say so.

That thought makes me more than a little nauseous.

All together now: Rape jokes aren’t funny.

May 13, 2009 § 2 Comments

I just read this community post over on feministing that really struck a cord with me. The author touches on the fact that rape has become a synonym for something hard in your life (e.g. “That test totally raped me.”) She says:

A major problem with telling rape jokes is the same as telling any other offensive jokes, you don’t know your audience.  You can’t tell who has been raped just by looking. We don’t wear special signs or inform every acquaintance who crosses our path. Plus, there are plenty of allies who don’t find rape funny either. Rape is not a synonym for anything difficult in your life. I don’t feel the same when I fail a test or hit my funny bone, I don’t spend years recovering and healing from a tough exam. If you want to be hyperbolic about it, why not at least be original and find a way to express yourself that doesn’t bring down others?

I don’t know how often it has to be said before it finally sticks, but rape jokes are absolutely not funny.

Go read her full post!

Seen in San Francisco

April 24, 2009 § Leave a comment

antirape-adI’m just getting around to sorting through my family’s pictures from San Francisco, and I found this one of an advertisement on a newsstand:

RAPE AFFECTS US ALL. Be part of the solution. Stop sexual violence.

Can I plaster these all over the world?

The Night Belongs to Us

April 8, 2009 § Leave a comment

Next Thursday, NYC’s own Barnard and Columbia will have a Take Back the Night rally, march, and speakout. I truly wish I could be there – it’s public school holiday and I’m traveling with my family – but I encourage everyone who can to go.

COLUMBIA/BARNARD TAKE BACK THE NIGHT

April 16th, 2009
March starts at 9pm, Barnard Gates (117th & Broadway, NYC)
Speakout starts at 11pm, LeFrak Gym, Barnard College

“Tonight is a night of survival, in the most active sense of the word”

The mission of Take Back the Night March and Speakout is to break the silence about sexual violence by inviting the Morningside Heights community to gather together, as survivors, allies, family, friends, neighbors and strangers, to support each other and protest the violence that affects all of us. The march is an opportunity to re-claim the streets of New York City, the neighborhood of Morningside Heights, and the Columbia campus as safe spaces. After the march, we host a Speakout, during which community members speak anonymously about their experiences. The march is wheelchair accessible. Free childcare will be provided. ASL signer will be present during pre-march rally.

For more information contact TBTN.at.Columbia@gmail.com.

I have never been physically harmed by a partner – but more than one in ten of my peers has. I have never known the shame of being pressured into oral sex or intercourse – but one in four of my classmates has. I am not a victim of rape – but one in six of my sisters is.

The battle is ours to win, and the night is ours to take.

Via Feministe.

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