This post is reprinted from The Huffington Post with the permission of its authors.
What’s the biggest myth about street harassment? That men of color comprise the majority of offenders.
It’s a myth as old as this nation: the idea that Black men are more likely to be sexual predators — especially of white women. Consider D.W. Griffith’s “The Birth Of A Nation,” that builds an entire narrative on the idea of the black brute. From the Scottsboro boys to Emmitt Till, history as well as popular culture, the justice system and virtually all other facets of American society still hold the deeply entrenched notion of Black men as people to be feared.
But the myth doesn’t stop with history. In a recent New York Times article, a White woman living in a mostly Caribbean community (Crown Heights, Brooklyn) gets physically assaulted by a Latino man and wonders if it’s her fault, as if moving into a mostly Caribbean community was the city-dwellers equivalent to “asking for it.” A few years ago, a woman, also writing for The New York Times, reported on her experience doing aid work in the Congo and hearing repeatedly from other European aid workers that sexual harassment, violence, and rape in those areas “is cultural,” instead of, as she duly notes, “a tool of war.” The myth that Black and Latino men are innately sexually aggressive is one that extends beyond our national borders. Keep reading »
Caroline Heres, Julie Gelb and Jackie Reilly are on a mission to decrease sexual assault on college campuses. Last fall, Caroline and Jackie, who are students at Syracuse University, discussed the fact that they’d both been assaulted. What started as a chat between two friends evolved into a need to take action. Together, they decided to spread the word by contacting Syracuse sororities and holding a meeting about helping one another prevent assault
The pair received an encouraging response, and it quickly became clear that they had major potential on their hands. They teamed up with their sorority sister Julie Gelb, a PR major, to create Girl Code Movement. The organization aims to bring college women together across the country and encourage them to be active, empowered bystanders to help prevent rape through identifying possible victims and keeping them out of harm’s way. Keep reading »
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 »
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If you think that racist and sexually violent tee shirts don’t belong on Etsy.com, you can sign this Change.org petition to address Etsy’s community management. And stop shopping on Etsy. [Change.org]
A sophomore at Emerson College in Boston said the school discouraged her from reporting her off-campus sexual assault by a fellow student and took months to conduct their own investigation, which ultimately concluded in the alleged assailant being found “not responsible.” Sarah Tedesco filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights last week.
According to Huffington Post, Tedesco was sexually assaulted off the Emerson campus on October 12, 2012, by two people, including a fellow Emerson student who lived in her residence hall. In an article published in February 2013 for Isis Magazine, an Emerson feminist online magazine, Tedesco wrote about the specifics of her rape: Keep reading »
The Indian people have spoken: four men convicted of the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman were sentenced to death today. Keep reading »