Fighting with the Sky

Posts Tagged ‘rape

Here are some links to great articles about the sexual assault charges against WikiLinks founder Julian Assange in Sweden.

Feministe: Some thoughts on “sex by surprise”

Well, no, I’m not sure it’s that straightforward. The actual details of what happened are hard to come by, and are largely filtered through tabloid sources that are quick to offer crucial facts like the hair color of the women (blonde) and the clothes they wore (pink, tight), but it sounds like the sex was consensual on the condition that a condom was used.

Salon: The rush to smear Assange’s rape accuser

Public evidence, as the Times noted, is scarce. So, it’s heartening to see that in the absence of same, my fellow liberal bloggers are so eager to abandon any pretense of healthy skepticism and rush to discredit an alleged rape victim based on some tabloid articles and a feverish post by someone who is perhaps not the most trustworthy source. Well done, friends! What a fantastic show of research, critical thinking and, as always, respect for women.

Alas, a blog: Rape Myths and Julian Assange

Most women who have been raped had little public evidence of their experience. By repeating these rape myths in defence of Julian Assanger people are attacking not just the women involved, but other women who have been raped and had their experiences dismissed. They are also contributing to a culture where rape is denied, minimised, and distorted.

Tiger Beatdown: How We Describe Women Who Reports Sexual Assaults Now

You guys, why are these women engaging in the (risky, socially consequential, unlikely-to-succeed) act of charging a socially prominent man with lots of supporters of sexual assault? They’re spies, right? Or they’re feminists who go around tricking men into having sex with them so they can make rape accusations? Whatever the case may be, it sounds like this is totally just about broken condoms, of all things! HOW BIZARRE!

Salon: Broadsheet: U.S. rape laws, explained

The country has the highest reporting rate in the European Union. (Perhaps because “Swedish women, backed by a strong consciousness of women’s rights and a history of a very public discussion of the scourge of sexual violence, may be more willing than most to look to the law for help,” writes the Times’ Katrin Bennhold.) Swedish law also recognizes “withdrawal of consent” as rape, which is what is alleged in the Assange case, and details three types of rape: “severe,” “regular” and “less severe.”

Reading about Sweden’s tough stance on sexual assault, I couldn’t help but wonder how the U.S. measures up. I gave Diane Moyer, legal director of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, a call to find out.


Since I haven’t been doing a lot of writing this week, I have been doing a lot of reading.  Here are some of my favorites!  Also, check out some of the stuff that I have been posting on tumblr.  Or you could even ask me a question!

Womanist Musings: Jesse James and the Fallen Woman

I like Sandra, from the interviews I have seen with her – she seems like a woman that I would really enjoy sharing a beer with; however, the Madonna/Whore binary that this story is creating in her defence is harmful to ALL women.

Professor What If…?: What if she SHOULD be able to run/walk/hike along? Thoughts on the rape and murder of Chelsea King

Yet I must admit that this quote reverberates because it was one of the first things I thought when I heard a young girl was missing after going to run alone in a local park. Living in a rape culture which blames the victim, I recognize that even I, a feminist scholar and teacher, have had a “she should have” commentary beaten into my brain on a daily basis.

fbomb: A Call to Arms

If women are going to continue to break down barriers and keep the fight of feminism alive, we have got to lay off the girl on girl crime. This is something that affects women of all ages. Several weeks ago in Salon Magazine I read an article by Martha P. Nochimson, an established former NYU professor and author, take down Katheryn Bigelow simply because she didn’t like her movie.

Equality 101: Social Contexts of Education: Teaching Social Justice to Privileged Kids

Because children come from privileged backgrounds are the ones who need to know the most about power, privilege, and access; in other words, it is a necessity for these children to understand the foundations of social justice education. That’s Ms., Not Miss, Thank You

Actually, Ms. is a way of privacy. Ms. does not convey age like Miss might indicate youth and Ma’am might indicate experience. Ms. does not convey marital status like Miss implies single and Missus implies married. Ms. implies female, woman, lady. It allows a woman’s name to stand on her own, without being defined by social roles.

this ain’t livin’: Before You Criticize the Food Choices of Others

Food policing is an area in which all sorts of assumptions are made about class and ability status. It goes hand in hand with the idea that people have an obligation to be healthy, that all bodies are the same so there’s only one way to be healthy, and that there is virtue in eating “right” as dictated by current authorities in the food world. Like, say, Michael Pollan, who is editorialized fawningly in numerous publications all over the planet for his “simple” and “helpful” food rules.

Here are a bunch of great posts about International Women’s Day:

Womanist Musings: In the Shadow of Hattie McDaniel Stands Monique

Ms. McDaniel won her award for best supporting actress in the movie “Gone With the Wind” in 1939. At the Atlanta premiere, not only was she banned from attending, her name was stricken from the souvenir program along with all of the other Black actors. Segregation meant that no matter her achievements, she was not worthy to be counted alongside the White actors. She was the first African American to be invited to the Oscars as a guest rather than a servant. What an accomplishment for the daughter of a slave. The Blame and Shame Game

I don’t doubt that the motives here were well-intentioned, but I think that the posters that the students developed are a prime example of how we talk about sexual assault, rape, and domestic violence in our culture.

Criss writes: International ALL Women’s Day: “Feminista”

I was excited to read Erica Kennedy’s FEMINISTA mainly because of the title. I happily bought the book, not just because I could put it on my shiny new eReader but because buying it I was supporting a fellow Latina writer.

The story and characters have turned out to be not be my particular cup of tea, but I wanted to read it anyway. Until the word “tranny” appeared — and didn’t go away.

Also make sure to read Criss’ follow up post: ” ‘Feministas’ and the T-Word: The Aftermath”

Last week, Melissa at Women & Hollywood was kind enough to cross post my post on the rape culture presented by the show 24.  In conjunction, she also linked to a post from EW on the role women are playing in this season of 24.  This post made me realize (one of) the reason(s) I am not liking this season as much as previous ones.

24 is now in it’s 8th season.  I’ve known from the beginning that it really is the “Jack Bauer Show” and no one better get in the way of that.  But despite that fact, there have been some representations of strong women in the past seasons.  Nina was pretty kick ass…even if it was in an evil way.  Audrey was also pretty cool.  Chloe has pretty much been my favorite character since she came into the show.  And even Renee was pretty strong when she was introduced last season.  But this season, it really does suck to be a woman on 24.

Chloe has been a technical analyst on the show since 2003.  She’s incredibly intelligent, is better than all the guys (until now) when it comes to computers (which is rare in media representation), and she always offers honest, witty, funny comments on the events of the show.  I used to love when she was on screen.  She usually made the scene.  She’s one of the few people that Jack actually trusts, and for good reason…she’s pretty awesome.  But this season, she has not been as awesome…

After leaving CTU, she’s back because he husband got fired and she needed a job to support the family.  But apparently technology has changed since she left.  In the first couple episodes, she is constantly being yelled at by the new director for being behind.  I, personally, find it hard to believe that Chloe doesn’t know the most recently technology.  And now, because she’s not as up-to-date, she has to depend on one of the other analysts, Arlo.  Things are getting a little better as the season moves on for Chloe.  She had a little more screen time this week.  But Arlo has pretty much taken the place of Chloe in terms of technology and witty comments.  He’s now the one that’s always in other people’s business.  When it was Chloe, it was because she was concerned about the mission and cared about the people around her (even if she wouldn’t admit it), but Arlo only does it because he is in love with Dana.

And speaking of Dana…  Dana is one of the new characters this season played by Katee Sackoff (of Battlestar Galactica).  She is also an analyst at CTU.  Now, I didn’t start watching Battlestar Galactica until after this season of 24 had started (please no spoilers, I’m only on season 2).  But I had heard a lot about the expectations of Katee Sackoff, and I definitely understand now that I’ve started BSG.  Sackoff’s character on that show was pretty kick ass in an all-around, general way.  But Dana is a push-over.  I didn’t like the character at the start of the season and I really don’t like her now that I have seen what Katee Sackoff is capable of.

Dana is haunted by her past indiscretions…quite literally.  An ex-boyfriend, that she committed some kind of felony with, is out of jail and blames Dana for him being there.  So he gets her to help him and a buddy steal a bunch of money.  She just lets this guy walk all over her and even commits a crime again for him.  She wants so desperately to keep her past hidden that she will do anything.  And we are meant to believe (after this week’s episode) that she is going to shoot this ex-boyfriend and his buddy.  Dana is just portrayed as a push-over and desperate.  Not really a great combination.

And speaking of desperate, let’s get to Renee.  Renee was introduced last season as a FBI agent working with Jack Bauer.  She wasn’t my favorite character, but she was a pretty strong woman at most points.  But, at the end of last season, she takes a page from Jack’s book and tortures a suspect (at least, that’s what we’re meant to believe) and leaves the FBI.  Since then, she regrets what she’s done and doesn’t think that she has anything to live for anymore.  We are informed that she had previously tried to commit suicide and asks someone to shoot her during the season (used as a tool to get this person to believe her, but we are meant to believe that she would have been perfectly happy if he had pulled the trigger).

Renee was the focus of my post on rape culture in 24, because she was raped this season while undercover, but the show will not present it in this way.  After this rape and a beating, she stabs her attacker.  Sounds like self-defense, right?  But the show is treating it as some sort of mental snap that has no connection to the fact that this man raped and beat her.  The show seems desperate to portray her as crazy.  All the men on the show (except, possibly, for Jack) see her as crazy and kind of at fault for losing their lead (her attacker).  Because of this treatment, Renee also blames herself for Jack’s subsequent capture and the loss of a lead.  I won’t go into this story line anymore because I did have a whole post dedicated to it and it still really pisses me off.  So…read it here if you are interested.

And then there’s President Allison Taylor (played by Cherry Jones).  She is the last main female character of the show.  She is the first female president (in the show, seeing as how the U.S. has never had a female president).  She was introduced last season as well, and she was a pretty good president, especially under pressure.  But this season, she just seems to be falling apart as her peace deal is.  Her time on screen has been reduced to phone calls to powerful men who kind of push her around (the IR prime minister — I think it’s supposed to be Iran — and the director of CTU).  I’ve been disappointed with her character this season as well.

As a commenter over at Women & Hollywood points out, the fact that 24 has zero women writers speaks loudly to their treatment of rape this season.  But I think that also translates into the treatment of the female characters as a whole this season.  I would be interested to know if 24 has ever had women writers working on previous seasons, or if they have never really had women writers.  I mean, women have never really played a great role in 24, but there have been some few examples throughout the seasons.  This season, all the women are weak or push-overs or crazy.

I think a good step in addressing 24‘s “woman problem” (as the EW post references it as) could easily be addressed if there were more women writers in the room.  It can’t just be one or two women, because then there is a likelihood that their voice(s) wouldn’t really get heard in the room full of men.  There needs to be a decent percentage of women on the writing team.  Not all women are going to be well-versed in what constitutes rape or not, for example, but I think that creating more well-rounded female characters would happen if there were simply more women in the room with a voice.

Ok, it’s time for a big admittance on my part: I watch 24.  But this is not a post about why I watch 24 (nor do I want to get into it in the comments), it’s just something that I do.  Maybe I’ll try to address that for a post at a later date.  Maybe.  What this post is about is one of the story lines that started playing out this week that had me closer than ever to screaming at the television screen.

So last week, a former FBI agent, Renee, was undercover trying to regain the trust of a Russian arms dealer that she was undercover with 6 years ago.  Last week, he threatened her into sleeping with him.  This week, she pushed him a little bit on a deal they were trying to make and he started to beat her.  So she grabbed a knife and stabbed him repeatedly.

Jack was telling the head of CTU what happened.  And the head of CTU responds by saying something along the lines of: “What happened?  Did she lose it?  An hour ago she was sleeping with him and now she’s stabbing him…”  No, she wasn’t sleeping with him.  He raped her.  And then he beat her.  No wonder she stabbed him.  Have we ever heard of self-defense?  At least Jack called the stabbing self-defense and didn’t blame Renee for killing the Russian and then stabbing him (he was trying to pull her off of the Russian and she turned and stabbed him before she knew what she was doing).

But NO ONE on the show is calling what happened to Renee as rape.  The Russian, Vladamir, threw a glass against the wall, threatened Renee’s personal safety, and threatened the deal that they were trying to make (that has to do with unsecured nuclear cores) if Renee didn’t have sex with him.  That’s rape.  No, he did not grab her out of an alley as she was walking around and hold her at gun point while he forced himself on her.  But threatening someone into having sex is rape.  It’s not even the so-called “gray area” of date rape.  It’s rape.

And it seems like next week the head of CTU is going to continue to blame Renee for losing a lead even though he raped her and beat her and it was very clearly self-defense.  Ugh.  Seriously?  It is bad enough that they refuse to call this rape.  What makes it even worse, to the point that I am thinking about writing a letter to Fox, is that they want to blame the victim for defending herself and don’t even understand why she would stab Vladamir.

This is precisely the kind of thing that promotes the rape culture that we live in.  If 24 is not going to call this rape and blame Renee for defending herself against her rapist, it just perpetuates the same thing happening to real women.  Who is going to believe someone that is raped if the media and pop culture is not going to call things like this what it is: rape.

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The Sexist: Rape Vicitims vs. Prison Rape Victims

I recently headed over to the Web site for Just Detention International (formerly Stop Prison Rape) in order to learn more about this sad study reporting high rates of sexual assaults against juvenile detainees in the U.S. (Short version: one-in-eight detained youth report being sexually assaulted within their facility within the past year; 80 percent of these victims were abused by a member of the facility’s staff).

Small Strokes: Racism, Sexism, & Classism in Standardized Testing

The last paragraph of my first post stated that “test prep courses cost a ton of money.” I did not delve into the class issue of standardized testing. The title of my first post was “Racism and Sexism in Standardized Testing,” but in reading the comments from the post, I realized that I completely overlooked class as an issue in standardized testing (a faux-pas in Intersectionality 101).

Bitch Blogs: Race Card: Oprah’s “Marriage around the World Show” Misses Mark

Egypt. India. The Ukraine. Oprah tried to show viewers what life’s like for married women in these places via her “Marriage around the World” show Wednesday. Unfortunately, the Queen of Talk came up short, delving into tired subjects such as Muslim women and the head scarf, mail order brides from Eastern Europe and why anyone would choose arranged marriage. What’s more is that while profiling women from around the globe, Oprah not only reinforces stereotypes about women of color but also argues that women from Denmark are the ones to be emulated. The not-so-subtle message? White Western women have it best, while others continue to lead pitiable, backwards lives.

Clarissa’s Blog: The Economist Invents Its Own Feminism

Who would go to The Economist to find out about the latest trends in feminism? Nobody in their right mind, of course. When this kind of magazine comes up with its own perspective on feminism, the result is hilarious. Liz Lemon: Feminist or Not?

I had revered Tina Fey as a feminist role model until I started doing a little research and kept getting stuck when trying to put together a 10 Reasons for her. I’m willing to admit that I’ve made some stretches in the feature before in finding quotes to support the theory that so-and-so is a feminist role model, but Tina was tough. I found (and continue to find) myself wondering why I had been operating under the assumption that Tina was a feminist – because she’s intelligent? Because she isn’t overtly and constantly sexual/ized? Because she wears glasses? I’m still not sure, but I’ve had trouble finding enough evidence to convince myself she’s a strong feminist role model (not that she needs to be one).

Gender Across Borders: Thoughts on covering up, slut-shaming, and the nature of masculinity

This is just another horrid example of blaming the victim. For example: “How does one not expect to get raped if she wears a mini-skirt?” Because, of course [insert sarcasm], when a woman chooses to wear revealing clothing, she is basically saying to the world, “Hey, please sexually assault me today!” WRONG. In other words, should a man be victim-blamed if he wears short, tight pants and then gets sexually assaulted?

Glossed Over: Bazaar: Bare Your Body to Boost the Economy

What is this “sexification,” and how do we know it’s occurring? I’ve read his article three times and I’m not exactly certain. But it has something to do with Megan Fox earning a lot of money as the face of Emporio Armani Underwear, Jenna Jameson wearing a tasteful blue frock on Oprah, and pop stars like Lady Gaga, Rihanna, and Shakira merely existing.