“There is one thing rarer than genius. That is radium. Mme. Curie illustrates the combination of both.” ~ Dr. William Lyon Phelps of Yale

                   

English: Marie Curie‘s birthplace in Warsaw, P...A non-traditional July 4th post (reblogged from Brain Pickings):

On July 4, 1934, legendary Polish-born physicist and chemist Marie Curiesage of science, reconstructionist, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the only person to date to win a Nobel in two different sciences — took her last breath. The following day, The New York Times published a lengthy obituary for Curie, which began on the front page and spilled over into the interior of the paper — a rare outlier in mainstream media’s recently bemoaned severe gender bias in notable deaths, amidst the travesty of opening a remembrance for a female rocket scientist with her Beef Stroganoff recipe. Curie’s obituary, however, was a true masterpiece of the genre, celebrating Curie’s spirit and legacy in a beautifully dimensional way:

PARIS, July 4. — Mme. Marie Curie, whose work alone and with her husband on radium and radiology has been one of the greatest glories of modern science, died at 6 o’clock this morning in a sanitarium near Sallanches in Upper Savoy. Her death, which was caused by a form of pernicious anemia, was hastened by what her physicians termed “a long accumulation of radiations” which affected the bones and prevented her from reacting normally to the disease.

                            

Power

Living in the earth-depositis of our history

Today a backhoe divulged out of a crumbling flank of earth
one bottle amber perfect a hundred-year-old
cure for fever or melancholy a tonic
for living on this earth in the winters of this climate

Today I was reading about Marie Curie:
she must have known she suffered from radiation sickness
her body bombarded for years by the element
she had purified
It seems she denied to the end
the source of the cataracts on her eyes
the cracked and suppurating skin of her finger-ends
till she could no longer hold a test-tube or a pencil

She died a famous woman denying
her wounds
denying
her wounds came from the same source as her power

~ Adrienne Rich

“Women are socialized to protect themselves. We pass dark allies with trepidation, we have our friends watch our drinks, and we walk in pairs.” ~ Andrea Ayres

The following is not an easy read; it’s not meant to be. But if you are still under the mistaken illusion that we are not living in a rape culture, then you need to become better informed.

Photographs by Laurie Anderson

Anderson photographed men who called to her or whistled her on the street.  In her artist statement she writes about one experience,

“As I walked along Houston Street with my fully automated Nikon.  I felt armed, ready. I passed a man who muttered ‘Wanna fuck?’  This was standard technique: the female passes and the male strikes at the last possible moment forcing the woman to backtrack if she should dare to object.  I wheeled around, furious. ‘Did you say that?’ He looked around surprised, then defiant ‘Yeah, so what the fuck if I did?’ I raised my Nikon, took aim began to focus.  His eyes darted back and forth, an undercover cop? CLICK.”

Anderson takes the power from her male pursuers, allowing them nothing more than the momentary fear that their depravity has just been captured in a picture.

                  

For a thorough discussion on our society’s rape culture along with related links, read the following from Policymic:

Steubenville Rape Case: Does America Have an Unadmitted Rape Culture Problem?

by Andrea Ayres

In December, millions of Americans expressed outrage over the brutal gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman in India. American journalists bristled over the number of Indian lawmakers who themselves, face charges of rape. Articles rightfully, criticized India’s government and rape culture. As this story unfolded so too did another.

The New York Times wrote a piece on a 16-year-old girl in Ohio who was allegedly raped and urinated on by multiple individuals while unconscious at a party back in August of 2012. Since the article was published on December 16th, much has happened. A subgroup of Anonymous —known as KnightSec, worked with the blog Localleaks to disseminate a 12-minute long video of a Steubenville High School baseball player discussing the girl and her assault. KnightSec continues to release information regarding involved parties.

On January 3rd, a California appeals court ruled that the case involving Julio Morales raping a sleeping woman, would have to be retried due to an archaic 1872 law. The law essentially states that the woman had not been raped because she was unmarried and therefore was not protected from rape by imposters.

The list of recent news stories involving American cases of rape goes on. But unlike the story involving the 23-year-old Indian woman, American media has been slow to paint a realistic picture of our own rape culture and institutionalized misogyny.

Instead, what we see are instances like that in the Times piece that focuses the blame on “hero worship” in a small football town. But aside from some feminist bloggers, not once have we heard a mention of rape culture uttered as a contributing factor. When we hear stories of rape in America we focus on the individual or, at best, a group.

When the word rape is used, what do we think of? Do we think of the person we know, the ones who we trust? No. We think of the masked offender, the violent offender. But this is not how the majority of people experience (see below) rape or sexual assault.

In America:

Illinois is the only state that recognizes the right of an individual to rescind consent during the sex.

— Only in 1993 did marital rape become illegal.

— Out of every 100 rapes only 5 lead to felony convictions.

What victims of assault are more likely to experience in terms of reaction to coming forward about their assault is articulated by this account of rape by a former Amherst College student.

I challenge you to ask your friends what they do to “protect” themselves at night. Women are socialized to protect themselves. We pass dark allies with trepidation, we have our friends watch our drinks, and we walk in pairs. Ways to protect ourselves from would-be attackers are virtually everywhere.

In 2011 we saw the GOP introduce anti-abortion legislation that would also redefine rape. We also saw dangerous, misguided statements on rape and abortion at least eight other times by leaders of the Republican Party.

After a 2012 report from the DOD released numbers saying that since 2006 there had been a 64% increase in violent sexual assaults, Fox News analyst Liz Trotta stated that women should “expect” to be raped working in such close proximity.

The expectation of rape.

That is what survivors must deal with our peers/media telling us.” They should have known something like that would happen.” They deal with critique of clothing, character, past sexual history, and forced to relive the trauma.

But it is only “bad men” who rape, right?

No.

Reject that argument and its assertion.

The article “Nice Guys Commit Rape Too”  (link no longer available) posted on the Good Men Project has come under fire in recent weeks. The article readily admits that a friend slept with a woman while she was sleeping, but the article defends him because the woman had been flirting and giving him “mixed signals.”

After a backlash by bloggers, GMP defended their articles and published additional accounts by rapists.

The arguments on GMP that these aren’t “bad men” only men who have made mistakes, learned their lesson, and after all look at what the women did. Shouldn’t she be to blame? Doesn’t she hold at least some accountability? She had flirted with him for weeks…

But these arguments do nothing to help victims/survivors of sexual assault or rape. Instead, it plays into the notion that rape happens to people because they were doing something wrong. We didn’t take enough precautions. But when we do, when we tell the world why we view men with trepidation, we are also criticized.

That is what rape culture does.

It perpetuates a society that asks victims to be accountable for their actions, but offer forgiveness for rapists.

It’s a society that believes rapes are made-up at much higher instances than they actually are.

It’s a society that is so quick to judge an Eastern culture for its egregious laws and treatment of women, but overlooks its own.

                   

The Rapist isn’t a Masked Stranger

Rapist Victim Acquaintance

Approximately 2/3 of rapes were committed by someone known to the victim.1
73% of sexual assaults were perpetrated by a non-stranger.1
38% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance.1
28% are an intimate.1
7% are a relative.1

He’s not Hiding in the Bushes

More than 50% of all rape/sexual assault incidents were reported by victims to have occured within 1 mile of their home or at their home.2

  • 4 in 10 take place at the victim’s home.
  • 2 in 10 take place at the home of a friend, neighbor, or relative.
  • 1 in 12 take place in a parking garage.43% of rapes occur between 6:00pm and midnight.2
    • 24% occur between midnight and 6:00am.
    • The other 33% take place between 6:00am and 6:00pm.

    The Criminal

    • The average age of a rapist is 31 years old.2
    • 52% are white.2
    • 22% of imprisoned rapists report that they are married.2
    • Juveniles accounted for 16% of forcible rape arrestees in 1995 and 17% of those arrested for other sex offenses.2
    • In 1 in 3 sexual assaults, the perpetrator was intoxicated — 30% with alcohol, 4% with drugs.3
    • In 2001, 11% of rapes involved the use of a weapon — 3% used a gun, 6% used a knife, and 2 % used another form of weapon.2
    • 84% of victims reported the use of physical force only.2
    Rapists are more likely to be a serial criminal than a serial rapist.

    46% of rapists who were released from prison were re-arrested within 3 years of their release for another crime.4

    • 18.6% for a violent offense.
    • 14.8% for a property offense.
    • 11.2% for a drug offense.
    • 20.5% for a public-order offense.

    References
    1. U.S. Department of Justice. 2005 National Crime Victimization Study. 2005.
    2. U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Statistics. 1997 Sex Offenses and Offenders Study. 1997.
    3. U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Statistics. 1998 Alcohol and Crime Study. 1998.
    4. 2002 Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994 Study. 2002.
                   
Late edition (with thanks to Furious Buddha): Reported sexual assault at Notre Dame campus leaves more questions than answers

“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” ~ Joan Didiion

Joan Didion, photographed by Brigitte Lancombe in Vogue

                   

Ever since I found out that this was available in a PDF, I have wanted to share it with you, so here is the first part of Joan Didion’s essay on why she writes. To read the complete essay, click on the link.

Enjoy.

Why I Write
By Joan Didion

Of course I stole the title for this talk, from George Orwell. One reason I stole it was that I like the sound of the words: Why I Write. There you have three short unambiguous words that share a sound, and the sound they share is this:

I
I
I

In many ways writing is the act of saying I, of imposing oneself upon other people, of saying listen to me, see it my way, change your mind. It’s an aggressive, even a hostile act. You can disguise its qualifiers and tentative subjunctives, with ellipses and evasions—with the whole manner of intimating rather than claiming, of alluding rather than stating—but there’s no getting around the fact that setting words on paper is the tactic of a secret bully, an invasion, an imposition of the writer’s sensibility on the reader’s most private space.

I stole the title not only because the words sounded right but because they seemed to sum up, in a no-nonsense way, all I have to tell you. Like many writers I have only this one “subject,” this one “area”: the act of writing. I can bring you no reports from any other front. I may have other interests: I am “interested,” for example, in marine biology, but I don’t flatter myself that you would come out to hear me talk about it. I am not a scholar. I am not in the least an intellectual, which is not to say that when I hear the word “intellectual” I reach for my gun, but only to say that I do not think in abstracts. During the years when I was an undergraduate at Berkeley I tried, with a kind of hopeless late-adolescent energy, to buy some temporary visa into the world of ideas, to forge for myself a mind that could deal with the abstract.

In short I tried to think. I failed. My attention veered inexorably back to the specific, to the tangible, to what was generally considered, by everyone I knew then and for that matter have known since, the peripheral. I would try to contemplate the Hegelian dialectic and would find myself concentrating instead on a flowering pear tree outside my window and the particular way the petals fell on my floor. I would try to read linguistic theory and would find myself wondering instead if the lights were on in the bevatron up the hill. When I say that I was wondering if the lights were on in the bevatron you might immediately suspect, if you deal in ideas at all, that I was registering the bevatron as a political symbol, thinking in shorthand about the military-industrial complex and its role in the university community, but you would be wrong. I was only wondering if the lights were on in the bevatron, and how they looked. A physical fact.

I had trouble graduating from Berkeley, not because of this inability to deal with ideas—I was majoring in English, and I could locate the house-and-garden imagery in The Portrait of a Lady as well as the next person, “imagery” being by definition the kind of specific that got my attention—but simply because I had neglected to take a course in Milton. I did this. For reasons which now sound baroque I needed a degree by the end of that summer, and the English department finally agreed, if I would come down from Sacramento every Friday and talk about the cosmology of Paradise Lost, to certify me proficient in Milton. I did this. Some Fridays I took the Greyhound bus, other Fridays I caught the Southern Pacific’s City of San Francisco on the last leg of its transcontinental trip. I can no longer tell you whether Milton put the sun or the earth at the center of his universe in Paradise Lost, the central question of at least one century and a topic about which I wrote 10,000 words that summer, but I can still recall the exact rancidity of the butter in the City of San Francisco’s dining car, and the way the tinted windows on the Greyhound bus cast the oil refineries around Carquinez Straits into a grayed and obscurely sinister light. In short my attention was always on the periphery, on what I could see and taste and touch, on the butter, and the Greyhound bus. During those years I was traveling on what I knew to be a very shaky passport, forged papers: I knew that I was no legitimate resident in any world of ideas. I knew I couldn’t think. All I knew then was what I couldn’t do. All I knew then was what I wasn’t, and it took me some years to discover what I was.

Which was a writer.

By which I mean not a “good” writer or a “bad” writer but simply a writer, a person whose most absorbed and passionate hours are spent arranging words on pieces of paper. Had my credentials been in order I would never have become a writer. Had I been blessed with even limited access to my own mind there would have been no reason to write. I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear. Why did the oil refineries around Carquinez Straits seem sinister to me in the summer of 1956? Why have the night lights in the bevatron burned in my mind for twenty years? What is going on in these pictures in my mind?

When I talk about pictures in my mind I am talking, quite specifically, about images that shimmer around the edges. There used to be an illustration in every elementary psychology book showing a cat drawn by a patient in varying stages of schizophrenia. This cat had a shimmer around it. You could see the molecular structure breaking down at the very edges of the cat: the cat became the background and the background the cat, everything interacting, exchanging ions. People on hallucinogens describe the same perception of objects. I’m not a schizophrenic, nor do I take hallucinogens, but certain images do shimmer for me. Look hard enough, and you can’t miss the shimmer. It’s there. You can’t think too much about these pictures that shimmer. You just lie low and let them develop. You stay quiet. You don’t talk to many people and you keep your nervous system from shorting out and you try to locate the cat in the shimmer, the grammar in the picture.

Just as I meant “shimmer” literally I mean “grammar” literally. Grammar is a piano I play by ear, since I seem to have been out of school the year the rules were mentioned. All I know about grammar is its infinite power. To shift the structure of a sentence alters the meaning of that sentence, as definitely and inflexibly as the position of a camera alters the meaning of the object photographed. Many people know about camera angles now, but not so many know about sentences. The arrangement of the words matters, and the arrangement you want can be found in the picture in your mind. The picture dictates the arrangement. The picture dictates whether this will be a sentence with or without clauses, a sentence that ends hard or a dying-fall sentence, long or short, active or passive. The picture tells you how to arrange the words and the arrangement of the words tells you, or tells me, what’s going on in the picture. Nota bene.*

It tells you.

You don’t tell it.

* “Note well”

First published in the New York Times Book Review, 5 December 1976.