That a secret fraternity is a breeding ground for rape culture is worrisome, but that it’s happening right in our nation’s capital makes that even harder to stomach. According to Erin Gloria Ryan’s research, one of the men in this email chain now works for a “prominent congressman.” Judging by how much rape culture permeates the political scene in the U.S., with influential politicians saying things like, “Rape is kinda like the weather. If it’s inevitable, just relax and enjoy it,” or that certain forms of sexual assault should be legal, it’s no surprise many women still feel like DC will never stop being an old boys club. Of course not all men (or fraternities) promote rape, but it’s troubling to see so many that do.

Leaked Emails From American University Frat Reveal Prevalence of Rape Culture in U.S. Capital, PolicyMic

Stalked and beaten up: student stories of sexual violence in clubs

I felt a hand move slowly and grope my vagina.

On the guardian:

Nightclubs are a hotbed for sexual harassment, according to an NUS report. Many students even view sexual violence as a normal but unwanted part of a night out – and they say they don’t report it.

This month popular London venues signed a pledge to tackle the harassment of women and lgbt people. The clubs, backed by harassment charity Hollaback, want to give staff specialist training and put posters up that encourage victims to come forward.

But many more club nights around the country continue to make a business model out of sexism and sexual violence towards women.

Last year a club in Glasgow installed two-way mirrors in the women’s toilets. More recently, a Valentine’s Day speed dating night in Nottingham was cancelled after people complained about the “bag a slag” and “grab a hag” theme.

Young people can be particularly vulnerable. Last year a poster promoting a student club night in Cardiff contained an image with the words: “I was raping a woman last night and she cried“. And themes like “rappers and slappers” and “geeks and sluts” are common in student areas.

In this kind of club culture students can experience harassment “every time” they go out.

We spoke to students about their experiences. From a stranger groping a girl’s vagina, to another young woman being pinned against a wall, the stories indicate that sexual violence in student clubs is an issue that must be taken seriously.

On theguardian.com.

Rape and death threats are all too common in feminist circles, just ask Laura Bates

In the first month of the Everyday Sexism project Bates received up to 200 messages a day threatening her with rape and murder. No-one has yet been charged in relation to any of these threats.

On the Conversation:

From jokes to rape, there have been nearly 60,000 posts by women recounting their experiences of sexism and sexist violence since journalist and feminist Laura Bates launched her Everyday Sexism project in April 2012. Now the material has been collected for the first time in a book of the same name.

I’ve been familiar with the project for some time. Yet the sheer pervasiveness and repetitiveness which emerges when the material is presented in book form, accompanied by Bates’ clear, angry, witty, feminist commentary, is refreshing, depressing and enraging. [Rest.]

Sexual aggression isn’t an expression of maleness

Navigating our social world can sometimes be like stumbling through fog: intuiting the impact of our actions on other people often involves a confusing haze of speculative guesses about what they are thinking and feeling. However, some actions are clear as daylight in their intent and impact. Sexual harassment falls into this latter category.

David Foster argued here that blurred definitions of harassment mean people should be wary of ever complimenting anyone, lest it be interpreted as an unwanted advance. However, as Laura Bates articulated in response, generally speaking, most men are capable of differentiating between a genuine act of friendliness or flirtation (an act that intends a positive social outcome), and a hostile act of sexual aggression (oblivious to the impact on its recipient, or even actively calculated to cause distress). So, if there is a grey area between the two, it is very small, and inhabited by few people.

However, given this, a troubling thought then occurs. Many men who engage in verbal or physical harassment are probably aware that it will render their victim distressed, or at least uncomfortable. And yet they do it anyway. The question then is why?

Social sciences are bedevilled by such a bewildering array of competing perspectives that one cannot hope to offer the reason for a given phenomenon. Nevertheless, at the risk of oversimplifying the issue, one explanation for harassment relates to societal power: the perpetrator feeling either a sense of power, or paradoxically, a lack of it. The first type – surfeit – is easier to comprehend. Some men allow the clamour of their libido to drown out the faltering voices of their conscience, and their social position means they can express these desires without concern for the feelings of the recipient, or fear of reprisal. For instance, Lord Rennard allegedly bestowed his advances on people whose relative powerlessness meant their complaints were hushed up or ignored.

From theguardian.com.

Why anonymity would be a green light to rapists

The outcome of the William Roache trial resulted in a flood of demands for there to be anonymity for defendants in rape cases and talk of women eager to make false allegations of rape against men.  I believe that these demands are not just misguided but extremely dangerous for women and for justice generally.

It is often argued that an allegation of rape carries such a stigma that the defendant can never be free of it even if found not guilty and therefore should be anonymous.  Many crimes carry a stigma: murder, an accountant accused of fraud, a teacher accused of hitting a child, a driving instructor accused of drink driving.  If we allow the stigma argument to run its course then most defendants would be included particularly if the defendant was well known or a professional which could lead to a middle class exemption and fail victims.

A not guilty verdict in the criminal court in England and Wales does not necessarily mean that the conduct did not happen it simply means that the CPS did not prove it beyond reasonable doubt.  As a civil lawyer I deal with cases every day where we obtain findings in the Civil Court about domestic violence and sexual abuse where the Criminal Court has produced not guilty verdicts.  The case of O J Simpson in the US is a gruesome illustration of the Criminal Court finding the perpetrator not guilty followed by  a Civil Court finding that he did in fact kill his ex partner and her boyfriend.

On Rachel Horman (podcast of BBC Radio Manc. also on link)

Rape Allegations and Accusations of False Allegations

On megamouthpiece:

It seems to be the norm now to say that when an accused (usually) man is found *not guilty* of rape or sexual assault charges that his accusers made ‘false allegations’. That they lied. This is not how it works.

A defendant is found ‘not guilty’ (usually) because the jury has to decide: is their sufficient evidence to reach the burden of proof in criminal law cases which is ‘beyond reasonable doubt’? This means – taking all things into consideration does the jury feel that there is no reasonable doubt in their mind that the accused committed the crime they have been accused of.

In other words if there is a doubt in their mind and its reasonable (eg it’s what you or I would broadly consider reasonable – we might consider for example the thought in a Jury members mind that the accused had been removed from the incident by Martians unreasonable but we might consider reasonable that the alleged accusor misread the situation) then the jury must find the accused ‘not guilty’.

As I’m sure you can see the test in criminal cases is very high indeed. This is because in the British Legal System we feel that it is better for one man who is guilty to go free than an innocent man may end up in prison. I’m sure you can see therefore that it is very difficult to secure rape convictions *ever* because they mostly happen in private – they are what is terrifyingly termed an ‘intimate crime’. [Rest.]

Society Is Starting to Wake Up to Rampant Street Harassment of Women

Some Facts About Street Harassment

Does a man asking a stranger on a date in a respectful manner without the expectation that he or she will say yes, constitute street harassment? No. Is a man asking a woman he encounters in public for directions to the nearest cologne store street harassment? No.

Here is what does count as street harassment: groping, stalking, sexist comments, and publicly masturbating in someone’s presence. These kinds of assaults happen with great frequency. According to a 2010 study conducted by the CDC, “non-contact unwanted sexual experiences,” the category into which most instances of street harassment fall, is the most prevalent form of sexual assault: 70-99% of women worldwide have experienced street harassment.

The fact that victims of street harassment are usually unwilling to report their experiences also speaks to a culture that has deemed such actions appropriate. A 2007 study found that 63% of 1,790 surveyed New York City subway riders said they had been sexually harassed. Just as concerning was the discovery that a mere 4% of these respondents said they had contacted authorities in reference to the incident.

On Alternet.

Sunday feminist roundup (6th April 2014)

- In Brief: American school district preaches sexually active girls are like ‘dirty chocolate’ (lipmag)

- “Why doesn’t she just leave him?”: The result of false narratives on women’s lives (everydayvictimblaming)

- Consent in Institutional Sexism (everydayvictimblaming)

- Study suggests police systematically undercount rape reports (feministing)

- A Bechdel Test for Philosophy Papers (feministphilosophers)

- Womb with a View: Bounty – I’ve got my best “fuck-off face” ready. (feministtimes)

- What Does a Feminist Art Show Look Like in Russia? (bitchmagazine)

- Is This The End of ‘Lads Mags’? (tokenfeminist)

- Sluts and geeks: ‘widespread’ sexism in student club promotion (theguardian)

- How Convenient (fanniesroom)

- Girls weigh in on “bossy” (feministe)

- Cultural Femincide?! What’s that? by @schoolsexism (aroomofourown)

And the best of the quickhits this week:

 

Twelve Things the #nomorepage3 Campaign Is NOT

Photo: Jack Fletcher

I have never seen so much confusion surrounding a campaign than ‘No More Page 3′ (NMP3). Yes, I am young and not world weary, but as a supporter of the cause I have certainly grown weary of the misconceptions and the false assumptions about what the organisers are saying. So I propose to tell you exactly what the campaign is NOT:

1. It is not against free speech. The campaign is asking members of the public to sign a petition asking the editor to make a voluntary change. If you sign the petition, you are declaring that you don’t like to see topless women displayed on Page 3 of The Sun Newspaper, for whatever reason you choose. There are many reasons to support it and simply saying you disagree with a part of the paper is perfectly reasonable.

2. It is not anti-breasts at all. It just feels that the context of a family newspaper is wrong for these images and The Sun newspaper sends out very different messages about each gender. One is dominant, powerful and depicted in clothes doing things like running the country and achieving in sport; whilst the other is shown passive and naked for the former to ogle.

On Huffington Post: Twelve Things the No More Page 3 Campaign Is NOT

See also:

I do consider “rape culture” to be a useful and accurate way of describing the way in which sexual violence has been normalized and sexualized in our culture. There is simply no denying that, when we see male students “joking” about raping female students, as we did recently at the University of Ottawa, when fraternities are untouchable on campus despite the fact that the “Greek scene” is a cesspool of toxic masculinity and sexual violence, when students at Canadian universities participate in “rape chants” during frosh week while fellow students are actually being raped on campus, when violent pornography that depicts sexual violence is defended as “just a fantasy,” or when we learn that acting out rape scenes is a way for us to recover from our own trauma, when women are afraid to walk alone at night, when women are afraid to be home alone at night in their own homes – this is a rape culture. We’re living it, every day.

On rape culture and what Heather MacDonald doesn’t understand about sexual violence (via feministcurrent, padaviya)

“The attitude is, ‘these girls are lucky to be at this party,’” Friedman says. “That inherent power dynamic feeds right into rape culture.”

Sexual assaults like the one detailed by the brave anonymous Harvard student happen when men feel entitled to women’s bodies and when men feel as though they can commit bad acts with impunity. And that’s what is extra troubling about these Ivy League assaults: they happen at institutions where student identities are entirely grounded in a narrative of exceptionalism.

Does the “I’m special” ethos turn students into rapists? Of course not – sexual assault happens in nearly every corner of the world, and on college campuses of all types. But the Ivy League identity may help to cultivate the assumption that such extraordinariness somehow means there are fewer consequences for the chosen ones.

Studies show that men are more likely to commit acts of sexual violence in communities where sexual violence goes unpunished – a truth reflected in the way we understand assault in institutions like the military and in far-away countries like the Congo, Bosnia and India, where we use the word “impunity” to describe how weak governance and a culture of higher-ups looking the other way allows abuse to thrive.

It can be more difficult to see our own institutions of higher learning in that same context of power and abdication of responsibility – and surely there are innumerable, substantial differences, particularly between rape as a war crime and acquaintance assault. But as different in nearly every way as Harvard may be from Kosovo, the Ivy League implies a similar freedom from consequences, and inadequate sexual assault policies affirm it.

- Jill Filipovic, If Ivy League men feel entitled to sex, why is Harvard stuck on ‘no means no’?

Sex, rape and role models – how women in comedy perform

Yes, women are funny. No, we cannot have this conversation any more. The below is posted for the content of the shows and not that.

On theconversation:

The topic of “women in comedy” is endlessly controversial – as Adrienne Truscott seems to know. © MICF

Two performance artists in this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF) – the UK’s Bryony Kimmings and American Adrienne Truscott – have a certain flavour of humour: it’s the knowing, self-deprecating humour of the culturally dispossessed, of survivors and victims. And yes, they’re both women.

Asking For It: A One-Lady Rape About Comedy Starring Her Pussy and Little Else! is Adrienne Truscott’s stand-up show about rape. In it, Truscott counters the stated prerogative of male comedians to tell rape jokes with a confronting routine in which she relentlessly does the same.

Her wit spares neither them, nor hip-hop artists rapping about date rape, nor Republican politicians expounding on “legitimate rape”, nor men in the audience.

Truscott also gets to explain why animal analogies are inadequate through progeny-eating gerbils. It is a bracing, uncomfortable, rewarding show. Is it funny, though? That depends on how you look at it. [Rest.]

Thousands Pose Nude In Powerful Protest Against Rape Culture And Victim-Blaming (SFW)

The answer to the question “If women knew how to behave, there would be less rape: agree or disagree?” seems painfully obvious, but in a world dominated in part by victim-blaming and rampant rape culture, a tragic number or global citizens are inclined to select “agree.” A recent survey by the Institute of Applied Economic Research in Brazil revealed that 58.5% percent of those interviewed (both male and female) agreed with the aforementioned statement; a shocking 65.1% agreed that if a woman is dressed “provocatively,” she “deserve[s] to be attacked and raped.” Read the rest.

feminism - pornography cinema

Leftists who otherwise pride themselves on analyzing systems and structures of power, can turn into extreme libertarian individualists on the subject of pornography. The sophisticated, critical thinking that underlies the best of left politics can give way to simplistic, politically naïve, and diversionary analysis that leaves far too many leftists playing cheerleader for an exploitive industry.

- Gail Dines – Pornography is a Left Issue.

I can see that.

Purity Culture as Rape Culture: Why the Theological Is Political

Excellent piece on RHrealitycheck.

When I was 14 years old, I stood in front of my 800-member Baptist congregation with my parents as they handed me a small diamond ring we’d bought together at Walmart. Before the church body and before God, I pledged that no man shall touch my special places until after we had said “I do.” I pledged to keep pure.

Thirteen years later, I still wear the ring on my right hand, but now it is simply out of habit. It doesn’t mean anything to me anymore besides being the nicest piece of jewelry I own. I grew up in evangelical purity culture, and like many of my fellow millennial Christians, I’ve left it behind.

In evangelical America, a woman’s potential relationships and sexual choices are of paramount importance. Relationship guides and purity pledges are a cottage industry in evangelicalism, but the influence reaches far beyond just evangelicals. During the recent government shutdown and the ongoing battle over the Affordable Care Act, we’re seeing the far-reaching effects of a theology in which a woman’s purity is the most important part of her life.

[...]

Purity culture, in the evangelical world, is nothing more than an elaborate form of rape culture. But it is rape culture embedded so deeply that rooting it out requires challenging the very forms of Christology upon which many evangelicals have built their beliefs. In other words, making the change to believe in bodily autonomy and unassailable agency of the individual means changing how one views all aspects of faith. This conflict, naturally, is why traditional feminism and Christian evangelicalism are often so at odds. The challenge of bodily autonomy is, for many conservative evangelicals, anathema to their very belief structure.

To understand purity culture as rape culture, we must understand why bodily autonomy is such an issue. For the evangelical, “dying to self”—or sacrificing one’s selfishness for the greater good of the Gospel—is one of the highest honors one can have. This is often interpreted as subsuming one’s desires, one’s individuality, into the will of God. Cobbling together ideas like “God’s ways are higher than our ways,” and the Apostle Paul’s assertion that what looks like foolishness to the world is wisdom for the Christian, evangelicals lay claim to life in an “upside-down kingdom,” where being last means they’re really first. [Rest.]

Sunday feminist roundup (30th March 2014)

Here’s what else I’ve been reading this week:

- Teen spirit: the fifth-wave feminists (theguardian)

- Moving Forward (everydayvictimblaming)

- The Invisibility of Disability (bottomface)

- No, I will not stop having ‘feelings’ about women’s lives and human rights (feministcurrent)

- #SexIndustryWeek: Manifesto – Indigenous Women Against the Sex Industry (feministtimes)

- When Cops Rape Crime Victims (msmagazine)

- Unsafe abortions have killed 1 million and injured 100 million in the last two decades (feministing)

- #SexIndustryWeek: The Future of Porn (feministtimes)

- Schools Policing Gender (echidneofthesnakes)

- Marlborough College is now running a school for “wives” (elegantgatheringofwhitesnows)

- RAINN – when support services fail to eradicate victim blaming attitudes (everydayvictimblaming)

- Let’s Talk About Domestic Violence in the Trans* Community (everydayfeminism)

- Stalked and beaten up: student stories of sexual violence in clubs (theguardian)

And the best of the quickhits this week:

Campus Rape and the Rise of the Academic Industrial Complex

On truth-out:

In 2012, it was revealed that the University of Montana and the city of Missoula were being investigated for a mass cover-up of sexual assaults on campus. Eighty reported assaults were either ignored or not prosecuted over a three-year span. Senior administration of the school was personally involved in attempting to silence victims and skew reports, and the football coach and athletic director at the center of the inquiry were fired. On February 14, the US Department of Justice reported that the Missoula County prosecutor’s office “systematically discriminates against female sexual assault victims in conjunction with the cases stemming from the University of Montana.

Sexual assault on college campuses is not a new problem, but it has arguably become an increasingly severe one. Rana Sampson states in her report “Acquaintance Rape of College Students” for the United States Department of Justice, “Rape is the most common violent crime on American college campuses today.” As more attention focuses on the issue and how to curb and prevent it, the conversation has relied heavily on addressing awareness, education and reporting. While that all is important, serious questions remain about the factors behind the heightening of the problem. How has the campus environment become increasingly unsafe? Why have senior administration and university presidents become more personally and deeply involved in covering up rape, rather than protecting their students? High rates of campus rape may be a symptom of the growing Academic Industrial Complex – specifically, how the increase of private money influences administrative handling of sexual assault, and particularly, how it is silenced. [Rest.]

See also:

From Steubenville to Delhi: Destroying Rape Culture is a Worldwide Effort

On mediadiversified:

Last week something quite special happened.  Though only witnessed in real time on twitter, it has since filtered through to the mainstream media. It was an important moment in the fight-back against rape culture led by a survivor who asked women to tweet stories of their rape and, simply, what they were wearingThe response was overwhelming. It hit home yet again that it does not matter what a woman wears: from sweatpants, to a girl in a school uniform, to someone in a bathing suit, a rapist will rape. Victim blaming is dangerous, ignorant and simply adds to rape culture.  

I watched a play recently,Nirbhaya‘, at the Purcell Room, London, and was struck again by the all-pervading impact of rape culture as it is played out through all cultures and ethnicities.

Nirbhaya, meaning “fearless”, was the name given by the Indian press to Jyoti Singh Pandey who was brutally gang raped and murdered on a Delhi bus in December 2012. The vicious nature of the crime galvanised Indian society and women (and some men) rose up demanding greater protection on the streets and reforms towards gender equality. [Rest.]

See also:

Rape Culture Is Real

Another response to the rape culture/ hysteria piece in Time (others are here and here). This one is also in Time:

In response to Kitchens’ piece, I started the hashtag #RapeCultureIsWhen on Twitter hoping that it would spark a public dialogue about rape culture and shift the conversation away from the myths that shame so many survivors into silence. This conversation is meant to be a tool to educate people about what rape culture is, how to spot it, and how to combat it. The hashtag immediately took off and trended nationally for hours on the strength of personal stories and advocates sharing information about victim blaming, bystander intervention, and healthy masculinity. The level of engagement is an illustration of how many people wanted to speak out about this issue many are too afraid to touch. The following statements are made up of contributions the #RapeCultureIsWhen hashtag as well as the myriad personal stories of survivors with the courage to speak out:

  • Rape culture is when women who come forward are questioned about what they were wearing.
  • Rape culture is when survivors who come forward are asked, “Were you drinking?”
  • Rape culture is when people say, “she was asking for it.”
  • Rape culture is when we teach women how to not get raped, instead of teaching men not to rape.
  • Rape culture is when the lyrics of Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ mirror the words of actual rapists and is still the number one song in the country.
  • Rape culture is when the mainstream media mourns the end of the convicted Steubenville rapists’ football careers and does not mention the young girl who was victimized.
  • Rape culture is when cyberbullies take pictures of sexual assaults and harass their victims online after the fact, which in the cases of Audrie Pott and Rehtaeh Parsons tragically ended in their suicides.
  • Rape culture is when, in 31 states, rapists can legally sue for child custody if the rape results in pregnancy.
  • Rape culture is when college campus advisers tasked with supporting the student body, shame survivors who report their rapes. (Annie Clark, a campus activist, says an administrator at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill told her when she reported her rape, “Well… Rape is like football, if you look back on the game, and you’re the quarterback, Annie… is there anything you would have done differently?”)
  • Rape culture is when colleges are more concerned with getting sued by assailants than in supporting survivors. (Or at Occidental College, where students and administrators who advocated for survivors were terrorized for speaking out against the school’s insufficient reporting procedures.)

It’s no surprise that we would refuse to acknowledge that rape and sexual violence is the norm, not the exception. It’s no surprise because most of us would rather believe that the terrible realities we hear about aren’t real or that, at least, we can’t do anything about it. The truth is ugly. But by denying the obvious we continue to allow rapists to go unpunished and leave survivors silenced. [Rest.]

(Zerlina Maxwell is a political analyst, speaker, and contributing writer for EBONY.com, Feministing.com, theGrio.com, BET.com, and RHRealitycheck.org. She writes about national politics, candidates, and specific policy and culture issues including domestic violence, sexual assault, victim blaming and gender inequality.)

(Actual screenshot of selection from “antifeminist graphics” collection. Apparently graphics do not need to contain graphics.)

Men’s Rights graphics extravaganza: “I need feminism so I can treat women like equals and beat them.”

So the founder of the Men’s Rights subreddit, a fellow who now goes by the name of notnotnotfred, has done his fellow Men’s Rightsers a little favor and collected together a handy assortment of “antifeminist graphics” to assist them in their antifeministing activities on the internets. I thought I would share some of them with you all, just so you know what you’re up against.

Oh, who am I kidding? We here at Man Boobz love love love MRA graphics. There are few things in this world so hilariously awful. Take a look at these hot messes.

[...]

A lot of the MRA graphics aren’t so much “graphics” as they are “bunches of words arranged in conventional paragraphs with no graphical elements at all.” Like this rant, which is highly unlikely to convince anyone of anything other than that MRAs are a bunch of angry dudes who like to yell a lot and if they can’t yell at you in person they’ll do it in .png form. [Rest.]