Today in Egregious Discoveries About Humanity, a study has found that a big reason women rarely report sexual violence is because they view it as “normal.” The study, which will be published in Gender & Society, reviewed forensic interviews with 100 kids who may have been sexually assaulted. The interviews were conducted by the Children’s Advocacy Center, and the subjects’ ages ranged from 3-17.
The research team found that young women and girls often saw objectification, sexual harassment and abuse to be a normal part of life. Male privilege and a sense of female powerlessness, it seems, was seen by many interviewees as typical. One 13-year-old interview subject justified the fact that boys tried to inappropriately touch her at school because “they do it to everyone.” Keep reading »
Earlier today, Zerlina Maxwell, a feminist writer and political analyst, was inspired to start the Twitter hashtag #RapeCultureIsWhen in response to both TIME magazine and RAINN (the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) claiming that feminists have overhyped the existence and impact of rape culture.
Last week, RAINN made their recommendations to the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault and for some reason decided to make a point of deemphasizing the impact of rape culture, writing:
In the last few years, there has been an unfortunate trend towards blaming “rape culture” for the extensive problem of sexual violence on campus. While it is helpful to point out the systemic barriers to addressing the problem, it is important not to 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.
Keep reading »
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 »