Fighting with the Sky

Posts Tagged ‘sexual assault

This past Tuesday, Virginia Representative Tom Perriello introduced the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act (Campus SaVE Act).  This act will majorly revamp the Campus Sexual Assault Victim’s Bill of Rights and is a much needed update to federal policy.  The Campus SaVE Act will be a step closer to more comprehensive guidelines for universities when responding to sexual violence.

The Campus SaVE Act will:

  • Expands the list of offenses that must be covered in a campus sexual assault policy to include “sex offenses and other intimate partner violence, including stalking, dating violence, sexual violence, and domestic violence offenses.”
  • Mandates primary prevention programming that includes defining consent and bystander intervention training (!!!) and awareness education that includes instructions for how to report offenses that occur on OR off campus
  • States that victims will be provided with full explanations of their options for health, mental health, and legal resources both on and off campus, as well as their right to involve local police or campus security AND how they can obtain a restraining order/order of protection/no contact order.
  • Requires that all disciplinary proceedings must be “conducted by officials trained to understand the issues of sex offenses and other intimate partner violence.”

While there are still a lot of steps that could be taken by the federal government and by individual universities, the Campus SaVE Act is an exciting piece of legislation that will be a step in the right direction.  I’m particularly excited about the mandated bystander intervention.  Bystander intervention training will definitely help stop sexual violence on college campuses, especially if students receive this training during their first semester of their freshman year.

I am particularly excited about this piece of legislation.  During my internship at a sexual assault awareness center, I have been working a lot with the University’s sexual assault policy.  Doing this work has definitely opened my eyes to the work that still needs to be done.

You should check out the full text of the bill and become educated about the issue.  Then you can contact your representative about the importance of this bill.

*Most of this information is taken from the SAFER Campus Blog.


Trigger warning.

There have been some great posts lately about sexual assault and rape culture.  Here are some ones that I thought were particularly interesting/well-written.

Ms. Blog: Silence and Sexual Assault on College Campuses

I am compelled to speak up because sexual assault breeds in a Petri dish of silence. Certainly the potential danger in coming forward is critical for rape and sexual assault survivors. Yet even vocal bystanders risk violating a tacit cultural agreement to keep such problems hushed up.

Equality 101: Incorporating Discussions of Violence

One of the things that I’ve been thinking about is that we need to have conversations about violence with our students and not just lecture about statistics and the plight of “those” women. Those women can be us, our students, mothers, sisters, daughters and the boys and men around us. We need to have conversations about this reality, but also empower women and girls, so that the conversation is not merely about the victim.

The SAPAC Voice: CouchSurfing ignores violence against women

In fact, CouchSurfing seems to continuously ignore the various complaints from many women on their own message boards, and only give out the standard response, that members need to look into their potential hosts more closely. The only way it seems to get CouchSurfing’s attention is through proof of legal action, where the responsibility is completely on the survivor to lodge a complaint and seek the authorities.

Gender Across Borders: Dear Jezebel

Just over two weeks ago, Jezebel published an article entitled American Guy in Paris Freed From The Idea Of “Consent”. In said article, an American named Edward Pasteck described a recent trip to Paris and certain revelations that struck him while embarking on his relationship endeavours. As the title of his piece might suggest, curious Edward discovered that, in Paris, it was okay to rape women!

Shakesville: Ugh.

Steve Harvey is back with more of his wisdom about men and women and relationships. (If you’re not familiar with this guy’s shtick, here is Renee’s “Steve Harvey” archive.) And, like all the rest of his gender essentialist, heterocentrist, deeply misogynist claptrap, this “men and women can’t be friends” garbage is about as fresh as pterodactyl droppings. It’s also one of the key narratives of the rape culture.

Trigger warning.

Earlier this semester, the sexual assault organization that I am an intern at was holding volunteer training at the university that I attend.  The volunteer was being held in the law school (it’s not a part of the law school, we were just holding it there for the space).  While setting up, one of the other interns started talking to a law student who had come out of a classroom and inquired about what was going on.  Then this law student asked, “isn’t rape more of an undergrad problem?”

He tried to explain this as undergrad go to parties and get too drunk, which then of course leads to sexual assault and of course this never happens in law school.

But no, sexual assault is not something that only happens in college and only to undergrads.  It has nothing to do with how much someone drinks or if they go to parties.  Sexual assault can happen to anyone.  That’s not meant to scare you, but just to get you to think about what the rape myths are and why they are actually myths.

And the scary part was that this was a future lawyer who was saying this.  These people are supposed to be defending the laws and seeking justice.  How is anything going to change in our culture if the lawyers are the ones that that promote these rape myths.*

So when you hear people talking like this law student or promoting rape myths, stand up to them.  Question their beliefs.  Provide them with the real information.

*I’m not talking about all lawyers.  Just talking generally about what needs to be done in society.

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.

PhD Comics

I know that I have been absent from the blogging world for a while now, but I feel like I have a good reason for it.  I have started grad school and am pursuing my Master’s degree in Social Work.  It has been a great semester with lots of trials and victories.  As I am nearing the end of my first semester of grad school, I thought it was appropriate to reflect on my journey so far.

I know that I don’t do well with change, so moving to a new city and starting grad school that would launch me in my future career was scary for me.  But once I got to know people here and start school, I easily fell into my new life here and came to embrace all of the opportunities that I have had available to me.

I started my internship at the sexual assault awareness center on at the university that I attend and fell in love with the work that I do there.  I am focusing on macro social work, so most of my work at my internship so far has been dealing with policies and research.  But I love this kind of stuff, so it was great for me.  And all of the people that work there, professional staff, interns, and student volunteers, are great feminists and advocates and I really enjoy spending time there.  I am even thinking of adding an interpersonal practice minor so that next semester I can interact with survivors directly.

My classes this semester have all been foundation courses, so they haven’t always been terribly exciting, but I do feel like I am learning a lot.  And next semester I am starting to take more advanced classes.

So, some things that I have learned about myself this semester:

  • I really want to work in the field of sexual assault and domestic violence.  This is the type of work that really calls to me and through my coursework and my internship, I have realized that I could spend the rest of my life doing this kind of work – with lots of self-care, of course.
  • I’m a football fan.  I have never really been that into sports.  But coming to a university that is known for its football (I’m not going to say where I’m attending, but some people might be able to guess), even if we aren’t doing that well this year, and going to games has made me invested in my team.  I don’t know if I would watch football if it wasn’t a game that involved my team, so I guess I shouldn’t really say that I’m a football fan, but rather a fan of my team.
  • Being around people with similar social justice mindsets again has really solidified my feminist beliefs.  There are some instances where I’m surprised how sexist or racist or prejudice someone in social work can be, but overall, I have found people who share my views on the world and are as passionate about them as I am.
  • I really can handle living on my own.  This is the first time in my life that I have been on my own.  During college, I lived in a dorm all four years and then I moved back home with my parents for a year before I started grad school.  One of the big things that I was worried about what being able to handle this.  I knew I could, but, as I said, I don’t like change.  But I have been able to handle living in my own apartment with a roommate, paying the bills on time (which reminds me…), and navigating a new city by myself.

So, now that I am nearing the end of my first semester, I think that I have a better handle on the work and schedule that grad schools requires and I am going to try to start blogging again.  I have really missed blogging and being a part of the online feminist community, so I am going to try re-entering while also giving adequate time to all of the other things going on in my life.

So hello again!

Guess what!  I have a tumblr now! You should read it.  It’s for a combination of shorter posts, personal stuff, and things that don’t quite fit into the themes of this blog.

this ain’t livin’: Female Celebrities Behaving Oddly?  It Must Be Mental Illness!

You are, literally, not in control of your own body when you are a female celebrity. Hollywood is sometimes called a fishbowl, especially for women, and it’s a very apt comparison. No place is safe. There is no escape. Private phone calls, emails, conversations, all can potentially be used against you and all of them are.

Equality 101: As a survivor of sexual assault…

Then let’s factor in the amount of people who have close friends, partners, or family members who have been sexually assaulted– now you’re talking a good portion of the classroom. Then there are the rest of the students, with various levels of exposure to discussions of sexual assault, and multiple opinions thereof. As the teacher, the compelling question becomes: how can we 1)have a discussion about this without serving as a trigger for those who have been assaulted, 2) respect the personal relationships many students may have with survivors of SA and 3) talk about it in a way that is relevant to the subject of the class?

Womanist Musings: Monstrous Musings: Patriarchal Baddies and Smokey Goodness? Musings on the Monsters of Lost

While Lost is certainly an improvement on most television shows in terms of diversity (and certainly 200x better than Disney), it seems white male privilege still rules the island. The show gives the most narrative attention to LWMs – or lost white males – and people of color are often presented stereotypically (Republican Guard/torturer Sayid, over-controlling and “English-challenged” Jin, simpleton Latino dude Hurley, folksy wisdom Ruth, oppressed Sun, etc).

Bitch Blogs: Need another reason to love Johnny Weir?

In response to two Quebecois commentators who spoke derogatorily of Weir and said he should take a gender test, Weir responded by issuing an awesome statement that touched on identity, free speech, life in the public eye, and the changing acceptance of gender, saying “I think masculinity and femininity is something that’s very old fashioned.”