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.


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.]

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.]

“I do consider “rape culture” to be a useful and accurate way …

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.

“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.

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,,,, and She writes about national politics, candidates, and specific policy and culture issues including domestic violence, sexual assault, victim blaming and gender inequality.)

We’re Not “Hysterical” for Talking About Rape Culture

A follow-up to this - Rape Culture is Very Real; We Are Not Hysterical – is this: We’re Not “Hysterical” for Talking About Rape Culture (bust):

Why does rape happen?

Because a rapist chooses to rape someone. Because someone felt so entitled to sex, they didn’t care whether their selected partner was able or willing to consent. No one is disagreeing there. But why does that choice happen? Where does that sense of entitlement come from?

If you ask RAINN or TIME magazine, they wouldn’t be able to give you an answer. Or, perhaps, they would say it doesn’t matter why. Earlier this month, RAINN—the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization—wrote recommendations for a White House task force on sexual assault that included a line about how in recent years, there has been an “unfortunate trend towards blaming ‘rape culture’” for sexual violence on college campuses. “While it is helpful to point out the systemic barriers to addressing the problem, it is important to not lose sight of a simple fact: Rape is caused not by cultural factors but by the conscious decisions, of a small percentage of the community, to commit a violent crime,” read the recommendations. TIME followed up with an article announcing, “It’s time to end ‘rape culture’ hysteria.”

If you ask me though, or many people working to end sexual violence, we’d tell you that the choice to commit rape happens because we live in a world that supports and condones non-consensual sex in many ways every day.  We live in a culture that makes sex a zero-sum game—something women are expected to perform, and then protect. Something men are expected to relentlessly desire, and then take.

The theory of rape culture gives us a way to understand why sexual violence happens. It tasks us not with pointing fingers at false problems, but with working together to change our society.

We may very well live in a culture were almost everyone—outwardly, at least—agrees that rape is wrong. But we also live in a culture that doesn’t understand, on a very basic level, what rape really is. And apparently, one of the best-known anti-sexual violence organizations doesn’t have the ability to understand the nuance of why that’s true. [Rest.]

Rape Culture is Very Real; We Are Not Hysterical

Don’t read the Time article unless you are particularly strong of stomach.

I think I can speak for many people when I say reading the Time article “It’s Time to End ‘Rape Culture’ Hysteria” by Caroline Kitchens felt like a punch of fire to the stomach. Reducing a traumatic and life-altering crime like rape to “hysterics” is harmful and dangerous on so many levels, not to mention it is just plain insulting.

Hysteria. Hmmm, where have we heard that term before?

The term “hysteria” is defined as a state in which emotions (such as fear or anxiety) are so strong that individuals or groups of people behave in uncontrolled and irrational ways.

As women we are constantly being told that we are in hysterics. When we speak out about an injustice, suddenly we are “hysterical,” “crazy,” “bossy,” or the ol’ standby, “a bitch.” The concept of Female Hysteria goes back to Ancient Greece, with the “wandering womb,” which reappeared in the late 1800s as a so-called mental illness. Although Female Hysteria is no longer a recognized mental illness, the ideology behind the idea has not gone away, but has become more implicit. We are still getting told to shut up and take a chill pill, insinuating women are hysterical and therefore cannot be taken seriously. [Rest.]

[research] Victim Blaming Others: Rape Myth Acceptance and the Just World Belief

This is an interesting study published in the journal of Feminist Criminology recently. It’s the about the extent to which rape myths are accepted (i.e. rape is normalised and excused) if individuals subscribe to a “just world belief” whereby people “get what they deserve”. It’s a grim outlook, particularly in relation to rape, and it is a disgusting way to excuse rape (or, worse, argue that someone deserved to be raped) but as the study indicates, it is prevalent (though not necessarily as clear-cut as it first appears). I have the full PDF, by the way, if anyone wants it.

Feminist Criminology, July 2013 issue.

Abstract: Rape myth acceptance which are false beliefs regarding the incidence of sexual assault, and are more prevalent among males, may influence how victims are treated. Acceptance of the just world belief (JWB), which argues that individuals believe that people get what they deserve, may be a predictor of rape myth acceptance. The present study examined the relationship among gender, belief in a just world, and rape myth acceptance. Findings suggest that while gender remained a significant predictor of rape myth acceptance the relationship between just world belief and rape myth acceptance was more complicated than hypothesized.

From findings: These findings may be understood through several possible explanations. First, gender, especially in the context of rape myth acceptance, remains a significant predictor because of society’s insistence on the normalization of sexual violence due to patriarchal attitudes toward the construction of gender (Schwartz & DeKeseredy, 1997). Second, it is possible that victim blaming, even within the context of rape myths, needs to be separated out as victim blaming-self versus victim blaming-other. Third, it is also possible that JWB is a unidimensional construct and JWB-other is unnecessary. [Link to PDF.]

#Rapecultureiswhen Trends and Twitter Gets Schooled

We already had to stand up and support that rape culture is a real thing this week and not a product of “female hysteria” this week. Now, thanks to Zerlina Maxwell‘s #rapecultureiswhen, we’ve discovered there might be a few people that agree with us.  “Rape culture” identifies the overwhelming normalization of sexual violence against women as a part of the cultural psyche, extending the cause of rape as an epidemic beyond individuals, to a culture that supports the mentalities that lead to rape. It should be mentioned that rape occurs on a spectrum, and cannot be defined only as forced male penetration. Top tweets all converge on one point: women are still openly sexually objectified and treated as bodies without autonomy, only until they are told they are or were responsible to prevent their own rape.

Via bust.

"Men, take your masks off. Men, take responsibility.

Men, take your masks off.

Men, take responsibility.

Men, open your mouths wider. Show more than your teeth. There is a softness in your throats waiting to be freed.

Men, we are responsible for the vast majority of violence.

Men, it’s an epidemic.

Men, don’t think that it has to be this way.

Men, if you could make the world safer for the women you love, for all women, children, and men, wouldn’t you?

Men, you can.

Men, we need you to be courageous, to speak up, and to be more than bystanders.

Men, put your masks down.

Men, let’s look each other in the eyes.

Men, let’s talk.

- Masks Off: A Challenge to Men, Everyday Feminism

"Rapists are not merely men with heightened libidos…

Rapists are not merely men with heightened libidos; they are men who seek to possess and control, and sex is the weapon they wield—not the ends, but the means. To think that rapists all rape for one universal reason is to think that murderers all murder for a single reason, and to think that rapists all rape because of sexual attraction is to think that murderers who use guns all murder because they like the smell of gun powder.

- Melissa McEwan in Feminism 101

Chianello: Rape culture can’t be addressed until we can talk about teen sexuality in a positive way

When news of two sexually charged — and deeply troubling — incidents at the University of Ottawa broke in the same week earlier this month, alarms over the prevalence of rape culture were raised, task forces on “respect and equality” were established.

These might be appropriate responses to these individual incidents. But according to Lara Karaian, there’s a major ingredient missing in the broader aim for gender respect: we don’t talk enough about teen sexuality in a positive way.

“It’s really through sex-positivity conversations that we can be best positioned to refute rape culture,” says Karaian, an assistant professor at Carleton University’s Institute of Criminology and Criminal Justice. “It’s through recognizing a girl’s ability to say Yes to being a desiring sexual subject, and not just a sexual object, that we potentially sow the seeds for a culture where we don’t have threats of rape, or threats of rape to the extent that we have right now.”

Karaian acknowledges that some of her views are considered controversial. For example, she argues (although she’s not alone) that child pornography laws are “too blunt an instrument” in dealing with teens who post photos of other teens online, even if the intent is malicious. Still, there should not be anything contentious about advocating for more open discussions on both the validity of teenage sexual desires and the appropriate ways to express those desires. [Rest.]

Chianello: Rape culture can’t be addressed until we can talk about teen sexuality in a positive way