In the most recent episode of “Downton Abbey” to air in America, the lady’s maid Anna Bates — whose story through four seasons has almost exclusively focused on her romance with her husband — is raped by a visiting valet. It is not the first example of sexual misconduct on the show. But it is the most sexually violent act to occur to any character. Not surprisingly, the incident has been hugely controversial.
When it first aired in the UK, viewers complained about sexual violence on an otherwise fairly frothy PBS program. (I say “fairly frothy” in a nod to the deaths of Sybil and Matthew.) The UK’s media regulatory agency declined to investigate the over 400 complaints made to both the agency and ITV, the channel on which “Downton” airs, saying that it provided a proper warning before the show about the content. But now that it has aired on PBS here in America, a large share of the criticism is coming from feminist bloggers who take issue with how the rape was handled on the show. Keep reading »
UPDATE, 3:30: Matthew Barnett plead guilty to the child endangerment charge this afternoon as part of a plea deal. He was sentenced to two years of probation and a four-month suspended jail term. [AP]
Matthew Barnett, the teenaged boy from Maryville, Missouri, who initially saw charges against him dropped in the alleged sexual assault of Daisy Coleman, was charged today with a single count of misdemeanor child endangerment.
And … that’s it.
You read that right: No sexual assault charge whatsoever. Keep reading »
The recent rape allegations against Conor Oberst of the band Bright Eyes hit really, uncomfortably close to home for me.
In the past few weeks, it’s come to light that an anonymous xoJane commenter confessed in a comment in a post thread that when she was 16, a decade ago, she had some inappropriate sexual contact with Oberst, who was in his mid-twenties at the time. The comments have since been deleted but a rape allegation was made; the commenter wrote that her husband had encouraged her to “out” Oberst as a means of empowerment. Keep reading »
Daisy Coleman, the Maryville, Missouri, teenager whose rape by a politically well-connected classmate attracted nationwide attention, tried to commit suicide this week.
Daisy was raped in 2012 at age 14 by some of her male classmates at a party she attended with a girl friend. Both girls were given alcohol by older boys and allegedly raped while drunk; one of the rapes was allegedly recorded with an iPhone camera and passed around school. The night, the boys dropped Daisy and her friend, Paige Parkhurst, off at Daisy’s home. While Paige made it inside, Daisy was left outside on the front lawn overnight in freezing temperatures while drunk. Her alleged rapist, high school football player Matthew Barnett, then 17, had all charges dismissed against him. Matthew is the grandson of a MO state representative. Keep reading »
Six people have been charged in the alleged dual gang rape of a 21-year-old woman in India earlier this week. In all, 10 people were arrested in connection with the attack, which occurred on Christmas Eve. Keep reading »
Secretive data companies are tracking almost every American’s every move online—and compiling and selling disturbingly targeted lists based on that spying, a new Senate Commerce Committee report concludes. That includes lists of rape victims, people suffering from ailments including HIV, AIDS, and dementia, and people with substance abuse problems, a privacy group said in a hearing yesterday, as per CNN. Read more on Newser …
R. Kelly is one of the most successful R&B artists of our time. He’s sold 54 million records globally, had a career that spans three decades and penned classic records that have provided the soundtrack for some of our best moments.
But while folks were bumping and grinding to his hits, other things were going bump in the night. Keep reading »
Following an outcry over some complete and utter bullllllshit, an Alabama judge will resentence a convicted rapist who got exactly zero prison time for his crimes. Austin Clem was found guilty by a jury of raping a teenaged girl, who was his neighbor, twice when she was 14 and again when she was 18. Two weeks ago, Judge James Woodroof sentenced Clem to two years in a program for non-violent offenders — despite the fact that rape is one of the most violent acts there is — and three years of supervised probation. Everyone but Austin Clem himself promptly asked Judge Woodroof, What the fuck are you thinking? The district attorney for the Limestone County jurisdiction appealed the sentencing as too lenient. His victim, who is now age 20, even went on Melissa Harris-Perry’s show to speak out against his slap-on-the-wrist sentencing. The judge has responded accordingly: yesterday, he filed paperwork for re-sentencing. Put that criminal behind bars where he belongs so he can’t hurt someone else again. [WHNT, Mother Jones]
Never have sex with a girl unless she’s sent you a text that proves the sexual relationship is consensual beforehand. And it’s a good idea to even follow up any sexual encounter with a tasteful text message saying how you both enjoyed being with one another — even if you never plan on hooking up again.
This is the advice of Roxanne Jones, founding editor of ESPN The Magazine, in an op-ed on CNN.com about what she teaches her college-aged son as he navigates the sexual waters of university life. She continues:
Crazy, I know, but I’ve actually been encouraging my son and his friends to use sexting — minus the lewd photos — to protect themselves from being wrongly accused of rape. Because just as damning text messages and Facebook posts helped convict the high-schoolers in Steubenville of rape, technology can also be used to prove innocence.
In other words, Jones teaches her son that women cry rape all the time and he should protect himself from false accusations of sexual assault with inadmissable evidence, like a text message.
The only problem with this little plan is, well, everything. Keep reading »