Wouldn’t it be funny if the boys that photographed themselves assaulting Savannah Dietrich got raped right now? Also, that priest, Monsignor Lynn, who is going to serve three to six years for failing to investigate sex abuse claims against priests — wouldn’t it be hilarious if he were raped in prison? And Jerry Sandusky? Just picture him in the showers with a bunch of bigger guys! Are you laughing? No? Well, that’s because imagining someone getting raped is about as humorous as imagining someone stepping on a landmine or getting car-jacked. It’s terrifying and no one deserves it.
But using rape in a joke is another story. A couple of years ago, I taught a writing course at The New School called Humor and Controversy. The premise was that humor artists like Margaret Cho, Chris Rock, and Sarah Silverman speak with more insight and honesty about race, sexuality, reproductive rights, gender, religion, and class than most politicians, which is why comedy is important. Students were encouraged to use wit and self-deprecation to shed light on thorny issues. One prompt was to write an essay entitled “My Rape Fantasy.” Keep reading »
Despite endless work by anti-sexual violence activists trying to change the narrative, the myth persists that rapists —at least so-called “date rapists” — are men who got a little out of control with lust one night and accidentally went too far. It doesn’t help that this is the story that we usually hear on those very rare occasions when rapists tell their side of the story, usually to escape social consequences or even jail.
But recently a self-identified rapist went on Reddit and, for whatever reason, told a story that social research shows is much closer to the truth: Rapists rape because they like to rape. They aren’t confused about consent, nor are they overcome by lust. The pleasure is from the act of overpowering a woman and making her submit against her will. Keep reading »
Meet Savannah Dietrich, 17, a sexual assault victim, who now faces possible jail time for daring to speak out about her assault and naming her attackers.
Dietrich, who’s from Louisville, KY, was sexually assaulted, when she had fallen unconscious at a party, by two teen boys at a party in August 2011. She found out about the assault months later, when photographs taken during the assault were shared with others. The two teens who assaulted her pled guilty to first-degree sexual abuse, a felony, and misdemeanor voyeurism, but Dietrich and her parents did not find out what plea agreement had been made between them and prosecutors until moments before it was announced in court. (The boys have not yet been sentenced and ultimately the judge decides whether to go with the recommended sentence under the plea agreement.) Dietrich was not pleased with the recommended sentence — which she described as “a very, very light deal” — and upset that the terms of the agreement also disallowed her to discuss what occurred in court.
“I was crying as she [the judge] was reading that,” Dietrich told the Courier-Journal. “They got off very easy … and they tell me to be quiet, just silencing me at the end.” But, in fact, Dietrich refused to be silent and took to Twitter to vent her frustrations and also named her two attackers. Keep reading »
South Carolina’s Republican Governor Nikki Haley — who is buds with Mitt Romney! — vetoed $453,680 last week for domestic violence and sexual assault prevention through the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence And Assault. According to the Charleston City Paper, Haley’s explanation was that the funds would “distract” the Department of Health and Environmental Control, presumably from more important issues. (Because apparently the effects of physical and/or sexual violence are not health issues?) Haley wrote:
“Each of these lines attempts to serve a portion of our population for which we extend our sympathy and encouragement, but nevertheless, it is only a small portion of South Carolina’s chronically ill or abused. Overall, these special add-on lines distract from the agency’s broader mission of protecting South Carolina’s public health.”
Mind you, Gov. Haley is the same women who told the ladies of “The View,” while speaking about her opposition to health care reform, that “Women don’t care about contraception.” Yeah, she said that. We don’t care about being raped or beaten either, Governor!
The economy is in the shitter. Other stuff got cut, too. Teachers’ salaries took a hit; $500,000 for “marketing and branding at the Department of Agriculture” may have to wait. I get it. But this is real people’s lives that are being affected right now. And reventative services prevent bad, costly stuff from coming down the road later. Keep reading »
I don’t think I’ve ever been so moved, and yet so disturbed, by a series of photographs than I am by Grace Brown’s “Project Unbreakable.” Totally enveloped by each and every image and accompanying text, I could not hold back a few tears, or the goose bumps. “Project Unbreakable,” a photography project created in October 2011, explores the raw truth of sexual assault, as it’s experienced by both men and women. Each victim is asked to write down quotes that were said before, during, or after the assault. Then, Brown photographs each victim and displays them on her website. Some victims are willing to show their face in the photographs, while others use the poster to shield themselves. Keep reading »
Nearly one year ago, those of us who put our faith and trust in the police had our world rocked: an New York City Police Department officer named Michael Pena was charged with grabbing a 25-year-old woman off the street, threatening to shoot her, and raping her in a yard. A neighbor saw Pena raping the woman and called 911.
But this March, a jury failed to convict Pena of rape. It convicted him of seven charges, including sexual assault, but wouldn’t convict him of rape because he insisted he did not “penetrate” her. The eyewitness neighbor who called 911 said it very clearly was a rape and was shocked the jury didn’t believe the 25-year-old woman.
Yesterday, the ex-cop admitted he had lied. In a retrial yesterday, Pena admitted he raped the young Bronx teacher and plead guilty to two counts of rape and two counts of sexual assault. Keep reading »