Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Let's call it what it is.

Celebrity gossip is a guilty pleasure in which I occasionally indulge yet hate to admit. However, a recent article (or more of a blurb) on usmagazine.com needs to be addressed. Khloe Kardashian recently admitted to “losing her virginity” at the tender age of 14 to an 18 year old man. In this article Khloe says that she felt conned, persuaded, and uncomfortable due to the age difference. She also tells young women to not “let anyone pressure you.” As I read through the comments no one seemed to pick up on the coercion and power dynamic in this experience. Did no one see the immense power that an 18-year-old man has over a 14-year-old child’s agency? A commenter by the (ironic) name of “SweetPea” says: “No one needs to know you were dumb & whorish at 14!” Ah yes, the familiar slut-shaming and victim-blaming tactics.

As I read this blurb I felt outraged that no one called this experience what it was. An 18 year old coercing a 14 year old into sexual intercourse is rape. It is not being dumb. It is not being whorish. It is not losing your virginity. It is not sex. It is rape.

The fact that the “moral or the story” was to not “let anyone pressure you” is also disturbing because it victim-blames and places women in the age-old position of gate keeping. It is not my responsibility to not “get” raped. It is the responsibility of my sexual partner to obtain sober, uninfluenced, and verbal consent from me. The only person who should feel guilt, blame, and shame in Khloe’s story is the rapist.


Immediate Action Needed: Clemency for Battered Women Prisoners

Please consider writing, calling, or emailing the governor and Michigan parole board on behalf of women wrongfully imprisoned who acted to save their own lives against their abusers. Governor Granholm has not been re-elected, so the Clemency Project is really pushing her to grant some of these women BEFORE she leaves office. Please take a few minutes to act on behalf of these women. Below, you'll see a template you can simply copy and paste as well as a list of women who are currently seeking clemency from prison in Michigan.

Dear Governor Granholm,
Please consider granting clemency to Dolores Kapuscinski and other wrongfully imprisoned women. At this point in your term, you have an opportunity to take a stand against violence against women in the state of Michigan. These women deserve clemency.
-Your Name

Mailing Addresses:
Governor Jennifer Granholm
PO Box 30013, Lansing MI 48909 

Michigan Parole Board
Barbara Sampson, Chair
PO Box 30003, Lansing MI 48909


First Degree Lifers:
1. DELORES KAPUSCINSKI 191704 Kent County, Murder I, Life, 1988. She shot her husband after severe sexual and emotional abuse. Expert witness testified, but no understanding of domestic violence ? especially sexual violence - by judge or jury in 1988. She is supported by MWJCP and UofM Law School.

2. BARBARA HERNANDEZ 218771 Oakland County, Murder I, Life, 1992. She was 16, a runaway from incest and abuse and neglect. She was homeless, living with a predatory, abusive boyfriend when he killed a man. She is supported by CAPPS, MWJCP, ACLU Juvenile Lifer effort.

3. MELISSA SWINEY 205346 Oakland County, Murder I, Life 1988. Abused, incested, mentally disturbed she became pregnant, gave birth and left the newborn in a field. She has the support of her arresting officers, PSI writer, court magistrate.

4. LUANNE SZENAY 214992 Bay County, Murder I, Conspiracy, Life, 1990.
She was beaten, threatened with death,
and her daughter threatened with kidnapping by her violent, drug addicted husband. Trying to leave and desperately afraid, she conspired with a co-worker who killed her husband to protect her.

5. MELISSA CHAPMAN 196612 Genesee County, Murder I, Life, 1988.
Violent boyfriend killed another man in her presence out of jealousy. She was 18, helped hide the body under threat of death.

6. SHARLEEN WABINDATO 150340 Muskegon County, Murder I, Life, 1977.
Her abusive boyfriend threatened her and forced her to participate in a robbery, and then he killed a man.

7. MACHELLE PEARSON 176620 Washtenaw County, Murder I, Life, 1984. At age 17, she accidentally shot a woman. Incested and beaten as a child, she ran away to an abusive predator who bashed her head, stuck a gun in her belt and told her to rob any woman who came by. In prison, she was raped by a guard, gave birth, was forced to give up the baby. She is seriously ill with Myasthenia Gravis, a debilitating muscular disease, aggravated by medical neglect.

8. SUSAN FARRELL , Oakland County, Murder I, Life, 1989. Her mentally ill son killed her abusive husband.

9. NANCY SEAMAN 520695, Oakland County, Murder I, Life, 2004. Killed her abusive husband in self-defense.

10. BARBARA DAVIS 436879, Wayne County, Murder I, Life 2002. Her father, who had incested her growing up, got out of prison and manipulated her to drive him to rob a drug dealer, then he shot the man. Her father was acquitted because she could not testify against him.

Second-Degree Cases:
11. KAREN KANTZLER, Oakland County, Murder II, Life, 1987. She shot her violent husband. He had broken her bones, beat her, thrown her, threatened her life. A study published by MWJCP in Hastings Women's Law Journal showed bias against Karen Kantzler and other battered women defendants by Oakland County. Trial judge, Hon. Norman Lippitt, supports clemency, attests he made "a serious and tragic error" in her case. Successor Judge Barry Howard supported her.

12. KINNARI SUTARIYA 316863 Wayne Co MurderII 11-20, 2000. Stabbed sexually abusive husband. She will be deported back to India, where she has family and support.

13. ANTOINETTE MCKINNEY 237079 Macomb Co, Murder II, 17-30. 1992. She shot her batterer-husband in a classic, self-defense struggle over a gun.

14. ANITA POSEY 260550 Eaton Co, Murder II, 17-50 years, 1997. She shot her violent boyfriend as he was threatening to kill her and their baby.

15. DONNA DEBRUIN, 227328 Wayne Co, Murder II, Life, 1988. Violent ex-husband was killed by abusive boyfrd.

16. CHRISTY NEFF 255549 Ingham County, Murder II, 40-60, 1996. Her violent ex-husband escaped from prison in N. Carolina and murdered her new, abusive husband out of jealousy. Both men saw her as their exclusive "property".

17. TAMMY RAMOS 630004 Wayne County, Manslaughter, 11-15, 2005. Killed her abusive husband in self-defense.

18. BRENDA CLARKE 312860 StJoseph, Murder II, 17-40, 2000. Killed her abusive husband in self-defense.

19. DEBORAH BEAMON 246190 Wayne, Murder II, 20-40, 1994. Killed her abusive boyfriend in self-defense.

20. TRACY SCHAFER 248225 Oakland, Murder II 18-30, 1995. Killed her abusive husband in self-defense.

21. DAWN GILLESPIE 509049 Oakland, Manslaughter. 7-15, 2004. Killed her abusive husband in self-defense.

22. TABITHA MAYNARD 377608 Genesee Murder II 24-33 2000 Killed her father who had incested her for years.

23. LANISE BASON 319076 Wayne, Murder II 18-50 Killed her abusive boyfriend in fear for her life

24. LINDA MARQUARDT 479446 Ingham, Murder II 15-35 killed her abusive husband in self-defense

25. ETTA DUNMIRE 608217 Calhoun, Murder II 20-30, killed her abusive husband in self-defense

26. QUIANA LOVETT 779728 Murder II, Wayne, 16-30, killed her abusive boyfriend in self-defense

27. ANA-MARIE CERON SANDOVAL 691128 Manslaughter, Branch, 5-15, killed abusive husband in self-defense

The Rude Mechanicals/SAPAC Collaboration

A couple weeks ago, the NPA Volunteers and The Rude Mechanicals, a theatre group on campus, hosted a joint event in preparation for their upcoming play "SELF DEFENSE, or death of some salesmen." This event was a facilitated panel discussion with Dr. Carol Jacobsen, the director of Michigan's Clemency Project, and Katy Mattingly, author of Self Defense: Steps to Survival. This event was an amazing opportunity to discuss the issues of self-defense and what happens when people, particularly women, are punished by the law when they use self-defense.

The play is this December 3 (8pm), 4 (8pm), and 5 (2pm) in the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre at the Michigan League. For more information, see the facebook event.

More information about Carol Jacobsen and Katy Mattingly.


Domestic Violence Bill to be passed in Angola

On a daily basis, we are confronted with negative news about domestic violence. Whether it be a woman who is sentenced to life in prison after killing her abusive partner, rising rates of domestic violence worldwide, or even learning that one of our loved once is a survivor of partner abuse, there just isn't much good news out there.

That's why I was particularly excited when I found a headline on Google titled "Bill on domestic violence to be passed". When I clicked the link, I was somewhat surprised to find that the bill was not being passed in the United States, but rather in Angola, a country in south-central Africa.

Angola, like many other parts of Africa, has extremely high rates of domestic violence; it is estimated that in certain areas of cities, incidence rates are as high as 62 percent. As if that statistic isn't sad enough, domestic violence is not illegal in Angola and therefore it rarely gets brought to court. The first article I am posting is from last April and briefly describes the magnitude of the problem of interpartner violence in Angola and then suggests that governmental bodies, churches, and social groups are coming together to try to raise awareness to put an end to domestic violence. It ends like many articles on dv do, by stating that their is little hope for these survivors.

However, this story has a positive update! Hooray! The second article I am posting is from yesterday. It details how an anti-domestic violence bill, which is designed to raise awareness, spread education, and protect survivors, has passed in Angola's Cabinet Council and is now waiting approval in the nation's National Assembly. This is a huge step in a country where seven months ago domestic violence was completely legal and there seemed little hope for change.

Although it is hard to say how much this bill will actually do IF it is passed, it does beg the question, what about U.S. policies and laws against domestic violence? How much does our country strive to protect survivors, offer support, and raise awareness in the general public?

I plan on going to graduate school to conduct research on domestic violence and create more effective interventions. After an extensive search for schools that offer the opportunity to do research on this subject, I can tell you not many do. Sadly, although dv interventions are far from perfect, there are not many professionals in academia doing the critical research necessary to create better ones. On the state and national levels, funding is simply not high enough. Instead, the burden of alleviating domestic violence in the U.S. falls upon dedicated individuals and non-profit organizations.

I certainly hope that this bill will be passed in Angola and serve as an example to other countries worldwide. Domestic violence is a crime that cannot be tolerated.


 Original article:

New bill update:

Monday, November 29, 2010

Body scanners and the new pat-down procedures – How much must we go through to take an airplane?

In October 2010, The Transportation Security Administration phased in (quietly) a new pat-down procedure.

Since then, the “ACLU has received over 900 complaints from travelers in the United States about the TSA's new pat-downs, providing a unique vantage point on what is taking place at airports around the nation. These complaints came from men, women and children who reported feeling humiliated and traumatized by these searches, and, in some cases, comparing their psychological impact to sexual assaults."

Here are some excerpts from travelers' complaints (taken from this link):

“The TSA agent used her hands to feel under and between my breasts. She then rammed her hand up into my crotch until it jammed into my pubic bone.”
“I cried throughout the groping and have had intrusive thoughts since. It was humiliating.”
“The procedure was violating, degrading, invasive and humiliating.”
“It was so rough that I felt the effects of it throughout the day.”
“I do not feel safer. I feel violated.”

For other examples of graphic and perturbing descriptions of what some people have issued complaints about, you can read more here.

From reading many of these complaints, it is very clear that the new pat-down measures basically equate to molestation and sexual assault. I find it very disconcerting that not only is this currently legal, but that people are paid to do this to people all day.

Let’s remember, though, that there is supposed to be another option prior to the invasive pat-downs: going through the “body scanner.” These scanners were initially thought to be low-resolution images with blurred out portions. It turns out, however, that the images are in fact very high resolution, and not only does the scanner have health hazards, but there are no blurred out portions, and the security officer can see… everything. If you don’t believe me, you can read the following two articles (but be forewarned that there are explicit images obtained from the scanners in those articles): “Full-body scanner cannot replace diplomacy but imposes indecency on billions. Law says indecent exposure is crime, doesn't it?” and “Leaked Body Scanner Images Do Not Show The Whole Picture." And what’s more? These images are actually saved on their computers…which is how some of those images have been leaked out to the press.

Thoughts? Comments? Interested in signing a petition?

MSU Students Stage a Sit-In

As SAPAC has mentioned before, a woman was raped by two Michigan State University basketball players this August. Disgustingly, despite the corroboration of the woman's story by one of the perpetrators, the Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III did not charge the players. When the university's Coalition Against Sexual Violence protested at the school's "Midnight Madness," a basketball pep rally, they were shouted down, attacked and forced to leave.

Most importantly, the university itself has not taken any action whatsoever, including making a statement condemning the rape. The Coalition finally staged a sit-in at President Lou Anna K Simmon's office on November 19th. After about 20 minutes of chanting "Silence is Betrayal," an administrator finally agreed to meet with the protesters on the spot.

Chief among their demands was that the university match the recent $500,000 raise for the basketball coach with funds for sexual assault prevention and education. The university already has mandatory education (my sister is one of the educators), but there are no consequences for not attending, no way for anyone in authority to know if an individual has completed it, and it is FULL of students yelling rape apologist bullshit (and y'all know how I feel about rape apology). Take a little money away from basketball (it already brings in a ton, you can spare it) and give your programs a little teeth!

(via Worker's World)


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Seriously, Jezebel?

So by now you all know about the utter (fairly well-mannered) riot over at Jezebel. Well, Jessica Coen, the Editor-In-Chief, finally waded into the comments.
Hey everyone-
A few things, just to address the multiple concerns and let you know that no, your words are not falling on deaf ears.

- Let's get it out of the way: This was not published for traffic-baiting purposes. We are not compensated on page views; the sort of traffic this post produces is not the sort of traffic upon which the site's success is measured. If you're actually curious about the Gawker Media business model, that information is easily accessible via a basic online search.

- Jezebel doesn't post trigger warnings. I genuinely respect and understand why some sites choose to do so, but that's not us. Depending on an individual's experience, so many different things can be a trigger -- we're not going to determine what is and isn't worth a warning. That's your personal call. In a similar vein, you should not expect Jezebel to always be a safe space. That can be defined in so many ways; what is and isn't safe for you is, again, a matter of your judgment.

- This was posted because while it's indeed bullshit, it was bullshit that was written with a degree of thought and articulation that, even for its many failings, was earnest. Pasteck's purpose was not to attack but, misguided as he may be, to present his perspective to this audience. Okay, well, I'll let him put it out there because I worked at length with him, both of us knowing that it would be controversial; a Jezebel staff member has met with him in person, spoken with him on-record, and debated this issue with him. Ultimately I felt that his conviction, and the manner in which he presented it, was fit to post. I don't necessarily agree with every single thing a writer here may say, but if I'm okay with how they present their case, I will run their post. Same goes here.

Finally: I have read every single email and most of these comments (and will continue to do so, even if I am unable to further respond). I am sorry that so many of you find it personally disturbing; that was never the intention. A heated discussion, sure. But not to disturb anyone.

(And just so you don't think I'm ignoring any of this, a heads up that I cannot jump back into the comments and continue a discussion right now -- I have to interact with family, whether I like it or not.)

If you're celebrating, have a good holiday.

Well. Let's go down this list, one by one:
  • Link-baiting: Bullshit. When Gawker, Jezebel's sister site, posted the Christine O'Donnel "expose," they explained their actions while saying "We also thought it would get us lots of clicks and money and attention." That kinda sounds like link-baiting and the Gawker Media business model to me. Furthermore, you actually CAN'T find their business model through a simple Google search. I looked.
  • Trigger warnings: This is one thing that I was specifically angry about the post lacking. While it's true that Jezebel does not usually use trigger warnings, they posted a discussion of it back in April of this year. Yes, it's hard to decide what's triggering for whom. But they usually say "NSFW" on their racier posts. They know that some jobs would be fine with you looking at pictures of dead-looking models, but why risk someone losing their job over a post on your site? So you put NSFW on a post. It's not hard. Why is putting a trigger warning or an editorial comment at the top of the page with an explanation of what was to be found in the post so difficult and unnecessary?
  • Safe spaces: seriously? We aren't supposed to expect you to be a safe space? Until Coen took over as EIC, there was nothing of this degree anywhere to be found. When the site is covered in pro-women, anti-sexism, anti-assault, positive body image posts and more, we're not supposed to expect it to be a safe space for women that fall into those categories? We're supposed to think "hey, Jezebel is going to do something that goes against all previous evidence! Guess I won't read today!" That's total bullshit and victim blaming. We should just accept the idea that it's our fault for getting upset. I don't mean to sound like I'm being overdramatic, but that's dangerously close to accepting the idea that our skirts were just too short.
  • Articulation: Wait, Jezebel is giving a platform to anybody who can use a thesaurus? Cause that's what his writing sounded like to me-- some dude who can't write, but changes a few words with his thesaurus to make it sound good. As the commenter PandaRobots says, "Does it have more flowery language as "get those bitches drunk, yo"? Sure. But the writing is atrocious."
  • Earnest: Bill O'Reilly is earnest. That is all.
  • Working in-depth with Pasteck: Oh, an anonymous staffer spoke with him on record? They debated the issue? Then why on earth didn't we get to see that? Why was there absolutely no debate shown to us? No disclaimer BEFORE a couple thousand people wrote outraged emails, comments and blog posts? Ridiculous!
  • Fit to post: You seriously didn't think about your thousands of commentators? All those people in the Jezebel community that have proven TIME AND TIME AGAIN that they hate stuff like this? That they find this rape apologia disgusting? I've said it before, and I'll say it again. You don't have to give people equal time for unequal views. Maybe you should read the posts on your own site-- this post goes over the "valid opinion" bullshit.
  • Okay with how they present their case: Also bullshit! Jezebel has a long tradition of banning people who disagree with them, as shown here. This also has a really great analysis of how Jezebel loves to contradict itself.
Honestly, at this point I agree with the many commentators who say that Pasteck is a friend of Jessica, another contributor to the site, or Jessica herself. As ladra-luna misses MizJ (that's a mouthful) says,
I think it's very cowardly to publish this under an alias. If this were an article appearing in a college newspaper, Jezebel would have published this guy's real name, email address, and picture by now. Why does "Edward" deserve any more protection for his controversial views than, for example, Tracie? At least Maura Kelly used her real name.
Amen, sister. At this point, I give up on Jezebel. I'll keep up with the comments on this disgusting post for a while, but after that I'm done. Yeah, they're usually awesome, but I'm not going to expose myself to the chance that I'll get verbally punched in the face. Jezebel has already made it clear that they feel it's my responsibility to monitor things for them, so I'm just done.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Clothesline Project

Here are some pictures from our latest showing of our Clothesline Project which took place at our Speak Out.

*Sorry for the low quality pictures.

Oh, Jezebel.

Readers might know that most of us here at SAPAC are long-time fans of Jezebel.com. Feminist analysis, kitten videos, and pop culture all rolled into one fantastic package. Today, however, they've decided to post a fairly rape-friendly post by an "American guy in Paris freed from the idea of "consent." Yes, that is the title of the post.

It goes on to explain how the culture in Paris is one of violent, aggressive "come-ons" by men, including groping random women, forcibly kissing them, and getting them drunk to facilitate a "romantic moment." French women are supposed to laugh and accept this, and even feel flattered to be constantly "permanent sources of desire." Women are supposed to maneuver these attacks to "have the upper hand" in the situation. Excuse me for not catching this, but how the hell do women have the upper hand in a sexual attack?

He then goes on to discuss how women in America are so bound by ideas of consent-- "Here in America, our use of the word "consent" complicates the way we view the relation between sex and pleasure. "Consent" is a weighty term otherwise reserved for elevated, formal, even sanitized contexts. Using the term in regards to sex inherently ties a sexual choice to ethical and legal ones (and our unshakable Puritanism once again rears its modest head)."

I'm the first to agree that America is a Puritanical society, but this is ridiculous. Once again, women are positioned as the gatekeepers, and told that we have to be the ones to say yes or no to sex-- but not consent! No, sex isn't like that, you just make a decision with a sexual aggressor bearing down on you! Note to "American guy"-- this is sexual assault. Grabbing women on the street, kissing them without their permission-- these are both assault.

The very idea that Jezebel would post something like this disgusts me. It doesn't have an editor's name on the post, and the author, Edward Pasteck, doesn't have any other articles, and the only result for him on Google, other than the article in question, is a cached Facebook page without a photo and with only two friends. Judging by the comments on the article, it was up earlier today, which means it was taken down sometime between the posting of the article at 12:21 today and when I started writing this post at 1:30. I'm calling bullshit on this. Edward Pasteck doesn't exist, and it was somebody's idea of either a sick joke or "a way of sparking a conversation." Either way, I'm furious that one of the few spaces on the internet for women like me was invaded. I for one demand an apology from Jezebel for this, and I'll post an update when I find out what is going on.

The only direct word I got was utter dismissal, which, judging by the comments on the actual article and many other blogs, is pretty much par for the course with Jessica Coen. I admit I was a little ragey in my email, which almost certainly didn't help, but a lot of comments have been acknowledging the fact that Jezebel has gone downhill recently, and I agree. 

The "update" on their site says "Update/Editor's Note: "Edward Pasteck" is a pseudonym under which the author wants to continue writing (elsewhere). His views do not necessarily reflect the views of the site." Oh really? So you just tacitly support it? If you didn't, there would have been some analysis, a disclaimer, a trigger warning, ANYTHING. Instead, you gave him a platform from which to spew this garbage and then all you do is give that weak "note?" Thanks a lot. Shape up, guys.

--Briana S.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Don't be THAT guy.

A new ad campaign called "Don't be that guy" has launched in Canada that targets men who use alcohol as a tool to facilitate sexual assault. There are not many ad campaigns out there that fight the cause sexual assault. By increasing the amount of media that empowers men to not commit assault and to act as a proactive bystander we can get to the root of the problem.

These ads use realistic images of women in vulnerable situations to reveal the tactics perpetrators use and to fight common myths about survivors. One ad has a picture of a woman passed out and lying face down on a couch with bottles of alcohol on the floor. The caption says "Just because she isn't saying no doesn't mean she's saying yes." I personally love this ad because it recognizes that consent must be an non-coerced, sober, and verbal "yes." This campaign is increasing pubic knowledge of the fact that the person increasing the level of sexual activity bears the responsibility of obtaining verbal consent.

More campaigns like this are necessary to fight sexual assault at its roots and to spread public knowledge about what constitutes consent. Through these images men are empowered to be a part of the solution and to spread the message loud and clear: "Don't be that guy."


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Teen Dating Violence Article

Check out the following article:


Speak Out

I thought that Speak Out was a great success this year. So many brave women (and men!) came up to the microphone to share their stories with all of the sympathetic and empathetic listeners in the audience. As my first Speak Out, I wasn't sure what to expect, but the event was more than I could have ever imagined. I was glued to my seat in awe of the strength of these people. I was moved emotionally and my dedication to SAPAC's cause was strengthened exponentially. Connecting with survivors on such an intimate level really allowed the audience to understand all of the hardships these men and women have suffered. I really wish there could have been even more people than there were for the sole fact that I believe it would have changed anyone's outlook on sexual assault and domestic violence.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

This is insane. A high-school cheerleader got kicked off the team for refusing to cheer out the name of the man that assaulted her as he played in a basketball game.


There's a good amount of victim blaming going on in this situation. The school even made her family pay for legal fees of the suit. It almost seems as if the high school community did not try to believe her at all. No accommodations were made for her - in fact she was punished for making the choice to act (in her own right) and refuse to cheer the name of her attacker. Perfectly reasonable on her part.

Seems at first like such an obvious question, but what is it about our society that puts people in such denial? Why deny survivors?

The school certainly should have had this girl's emotional health in mind. Due to what's happened to her, as a survivor, she did not need the people around her to create an environment that lacks support. There should be protocol for these situations in school systems.

Agreed with the woman in the interview; this boy should have had SOME sort of action against him from the university.

"If I provide the party, at least I'll be in control of the situation"

So many parents host parties for their underage kids with the thought that if they are in control of the situation, nothing bad can happen. While this party took place at a hotel and not in a home, the thought behind it is still the same.

Clearly, these parents didn't want anything bad to happen to the students at this party. Clearly, also, they did not provide the supervision necessary to prevent these incidents.

How can we educate parents about the problems created by being "the cool parent"?

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Slippery Slope Of "Advance Consent"

Canada's Supreme Court is currently considering a case that could have serious implications for future sexual assault cases.

A Canadian woman consented to erotic asphyxiation with her husband, but not anal penetration. She eventually passed out, and woke up to find that she had been anally penetrated with a dildo. The woman pressed sexual assault charges against her husband.

A lower court convicted the man, but it was appealed and is now being considered by the Canadian Supreme Court. The defense is insisting that by agreeing to erotic asphyxiation, the survivor had consented to sexual activity, implying blanket consent on all sexual activity. The claim that the woman gave advance consent to activity that would occur while she was unconscious was not only incorrect, but besides the point. "Advance Consent" would take away a person's right to change their mind. Someone can say "yes" a hundred times, but if one "no" is heard, the sexual activity must stop. This can't happen if someone is unconscious or otherwise incapacitated.

The blanket consent defense sounds very similar to defenders of marital rape or rape that occurs in a relationship. The idea that once someone consents to sex once, it applies to all future cases or all possible sexual activities is just plain wrong. The Canadian Supreme Court has an opportunity to show how important un-coerced, clearheaded consent is. Alternatively, they have the option of setting back rights to one's own body quite a few years. Hopefully they choose correctly.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

American and European Teen Pregnancy

What's one thing the media loves to talk about? Teens and sex. Teens and pregnancy. Teens and STDs. Obviously, teens are having sex and this horrifies the media and right-wing conservatives. They enjoy taking a shocking story on America's high STD rates among teens and blaming it on birth control and honest discussions about sex.Somehow they ignore the overwhelming statistics that indicate STDs and pregnancy are oftenlinked to abstinence-only education. (For a full rant about that, read The Purity Myth.

Now let's take a look at Europe. In both America and Europe, teens on average start having sex around seventeen. That's where the similarities end. America's teen pregnancy rate is three to six times higher than any country in Western Europe. One in three American girls will be pregnant before the age of twenty. This is a higher rate than those found in poorer countries like China and Sri Lanka. Not only that, but there is a huge gap between Europe's STD rates and America's. As in our rates are twenty to thirty times higher than the Netherlands.

So what are Europeans doing that Americans aren't? Engaging in OPEN, HONEST, and DIRECT conversations with teens about sex and using protection. In America, wejust try to scare our teens into staying abstinent. Anyone remember the health class scene from "Mean Girls?"
If you have sex, you will get pregnant and you will die.
The difference between the European way of dealing with sex and our way of dealing with sex is blindingly obvious in our ads.
This German add reads "give the gift of love." In America, we don't talk about teen sex and love. We ONLY talk about the sex part.

Now what do American ads look like?
The message: sex is dangerous. It can kill you. It's like walking into a full-scale industrial fire. This ad doesn't inspire you to use protection. If you're doomed by sex, why even bother with protection?

What can we do to change this? How do we bring the issue of openly discussing sex to the foreground when most of society is busy slut-shaming?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Media Fail

We all know that the mainstream media has some shortcomings when it comes to reporting about violence against women. For example, calling raped women "alleged victims" instead of the perpetrator "alleged rapists," or talking about how the woman had her skirt too short, etc. Here's another one for the files: "Candidate Accused of Getting Lesbian Pregnant." And no, that's not from a trashy magazine at the check-out line. That's straight from MSNBC.

The case itself is fairly horrible. David King, the Republican candidate for Wisconsin's Secretary of State, has been accused of taking a 31-year-old woman to lunch, getting her drunk, then raping her when she was passed out, which got her pregnant. She says that there's no other possible father, because she's a lesbian and has been with the same woman for four years. That's where MSNBC's headline came from. Even worse, MSNBC edited her quotes to take out multiple references where she plainly called it rape, choosing instead to repeatedly refer to it as "having sex with her," even though they do admit she was passed out. The whole thing is just a mess, but what's worse are the comments. It's a multitude of slut-shaming, why didn't she stop drinking, homophobia and a bonus round of accusations of ACORN and Obama trying to sabotage a Tea Party candidate. One writer even searched her lawyer and based his accusations in the fact that his facebook page "likes" Rahm Emmanuel and Obama. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, instead of wondering how a rapist got so far in office, let's accuse a black female lesbian of working with Obama to overthrow a Republican.

What do all of you think?

Via The Curvature