I haven’t been following the Australian swimming community’s sexual abuse scandal. I only feel like I have been. That’s because these sorts of heartbreaking stories are so goddamned familiar: a coach is accused of sexually abusing the young charges under his tutelage and with whom he has shared lots of private time, often far from home.
In Australia’s case, several coaches were accused of sexual abuse of both male and female swimmers between the ages of 11 and 16. One coach is Scott Volkers, who is accused of child sexual abuse by three now-adult women. Volkers is accused, among other things, of rubbing the genitalia of a 13-year-old girl and groping the girls’ breasts; he has long claimed his innocence. Charges were dropped against Volkers in 2002 because accusations could not be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Two years later, in 2004, prosecutor Margaret Cunneen advised against recharging him.
Currently, Australia is holding an investigation (called a “royal commission”) focusing on the country’s institutional response, including whether Cunneen’s advice not to recharge him was appropriate. At the time, Cunneen showed skepticism that the abuse could be prosecuted. Which, as a lawyer, is her job to prove. However, what Cunneen said about it all was pretty offensive to these victims. Cunneen said it could all be seen as “trivial … almost fanciful” and it would be difficult to prosecute Volkers for molestation because his victim may not have developed breasts yet. “It is legitimate to consider whether 12-year-old swimmers even had breasts,” she said. Keep reading »
When my feminist friends and I began our communal Facebook message thread, we envisioned a no-holds-barred place to discuss careers, gender politics, and the gospel of Beyoncé. But ever since soccer season took the Internet by storm, our only mentions of “Flawless” have concerned abs. In the past week alone, my “progressive” peers and I shared 10 “World Cup Hottie” listicles, 18 winky faces, and too many Netherlands-based puns to count.
As over-the-top as our behavior was, we were never ashamed. There was an implicit empowerment to our objectification, like a hard-earned reward for eons of inequality. Even when I read our conversation (and watched a video of Ronaldo slow-motion jogging) in a very public, very crowded coffee shop, I didn’t bother to turn down my laptop brightness. If anyone saw my screen, I trusted they would be impressed: I wasn’t some creepy guy browsing Google images of Megan Fox — I was a proud woman, flaunting the sex drive to which I was entitled! Keep reading »
Who is Laci Green and where has she been all my life? Like a sex-positive Disney star on speed, Laci hosts a YouTube channel called Sex+ where she covers everything from hymens and consent to buttplay and sex with disabilities. Laci is also a loud and proud feminist and yesterday she posted a video addressing three common myths about “The F Word” — that is, feminism. It’s more for the new-to-feminism types — like, say, your little sister — but I for one am really glad that chipper, upbeat and funny videos about feminism exist. [YouTube]
As I read the chyron “Girls Gone ‘Mild’: Book Advises Women Not To Raise Their Voices,” I was all ready to watch this Fox News segment advising women on how to carry themselves professionally in the workplace and then kill it with fire.
But as Sylvia Ann Hewlett, the author of Executive Presence: The Missing Link Between Merit And Success, addressed “Fox & Friends” this morning about ways women can up their gravitas in the workplace, I found myself thinking, Hey, this is not such bad advice. Keep reading »
Over 60 girls and women escaped from Boko Haram, the Islamist extremist group that has staged kidnappings in Nigeria for several months. According to security sources who spoke to the BBC, these women were taken in one of the latest abductions last month; back in April, Boko Haram kidnapped 230 schoolgirls, plus another eight more teen girls in May. The women are rumored to be sold as “brides,” AKA sex slaves, by the extremists. The women and girls who escaped this weekend were able to run when Boko Haram was occupied attacking a military base. This latest turn of events gives us a sliver of hope that the original group of girls who were kidnapped may have a chance to be reunited with their families, as well. [BBC; Yahoo; NBC News]