“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

My Apologies for 2008

These are the people and events that I would like to apologize to and for in the past year:

The General Apologreed-gargoylegies:

To Virginia Natural Gas, for getting so behind in our payments that you felt the need to reclaim your meter. I’m sure that it is doing you more good than it was doing us. After all, we only need it for heat, hot water, and cooking. You must have needed it for something for more useful, say storage. Glad we could help. And just as soon as the economy takes a turn for the better, we’ll be getting back to you on the huge past due balance and deposit that you mentioned.

To Homecomings Mortgage for being so understanding when I’ve called to try to work out some kind of payment plan. I guess you didn’t get any kind of notification on the TARP money and how they are trying to use that to help financially-troubled mortgages. We’ll wait until you get the memo and get back to you on that.

Speaking of TARP money, my sincerest apologies to the Wall Street Bankers and Financiers who may have to do without bigger bonuses this year, or at least have pretended to do without pay cuts and bonuses until Congress finally figured out that there is actually a loophole. I just wouldn’t want anyone’s house in the Hamptons to go into foreclosure or anything. Warmest regards to all. Ta Ta.

To all of the bill collectors, it’s not that we don’t want to pay our bills, really. It’s that we can’t pay them. When a family of four is living on my disability income, and the primary breadwinner, my husband, has been out of work since January of 2008, it makes it very tricky to stretch those dollars to cover the mortgage, my health insurance, food, and just about anything else. I apologize. I sincerely do. We will be getting back to you on that as soon as we can figure out alchemy.

To my eternally snoopy next door neighbor on the left: No, we haven’t finished the soffet and fascia in the back because we have to pay someone to finish that particular job. We have, however, put up a new roof, finished the privacy fencing on almost the whole perimeter, leaving your back gate on our property (which, if it had been up to me, would not be there, but my husband is kinder), cut back most of the trees, gotten rid of the old truck, gotten rid of the old landscaping trailer. The only thing, unfortunately, I cannot accommodate you with is our own disappearance. So sorry. Maybe next year when we might be able to finish our renovations and move to a place where the neighbors actually talk to you.

To my former employer’s Human Resources department, I apologize for calling you with pesky questions about my personnel benefits as a long-term disability employee. If I could actually get answers that made sense without having to call and leave messages, believe me, I would. Trying to get someone in your department to be helpful is akin to asking for someone to drill my teeth without benefit of local anaesthesia.

To the Republican Party, nah, not really, but thanks so much for Sarah Palin. She gave me enough material for two months.

The Sincere Personal Apologies:

To my mail carrier, I apologize for never being quite as happy to see him as he is to see me. I wave and say hello even though I know that he is bringing more bad news, but I still hope that he has a good day.

To all of the people who put up with me at the pain management center, I apologize for being late, showing up on the wrong day, at the wrong time, or forgetting about appointments altogether. You are very kind for working me in because you realize that my pain has made me batty.

To my family as a whole, thank you for accepting the fact that I’m batty. Pain does weird things to people. Constant pain makes you want to be more sarcastic than usual.

To Corey, I’m sorry if I don’t always say thank you for all of the things that you do. If it seems that I take you for granted, believe me when I say that nothing you do is ever taken for granted. I’m also sorry that’s it has been such a rough year, but I know that 2009 will be better because honey, it can’t be worse.

To Alexis, I’m sorry that you have had to pick up some slack for me, which isn’t really fair since you have your own place now. But I appreciate it.

Eamonn, I’m sorry for being overbearing, but not really. I know that you don’t believe it, but you really will look back on this someday, and wonder why I didn’t come down on you harder.
my-dearhearts
For My Dear Hearts

Brett, I’m sorry for the gene pool lottery. It sucks. I know.

James, I’m sorry you just had to endure weeks of hell and that I wasn’t closer by to help you through it.

Mari, I’m sorry that we have drifted apart, and that I’ve let it happen on my end as well.

Sarah, I’m sorry for the years, and it won’t be a pine box. I promise.

Rebecca, we both should be sorry: we don’t live that far apart. Let’s make more of an effort.

And Finally, Apologies For The Rest:

To the rest of the world, let me be the first to apologize for eight years of George W. Bush.

sand-from-non-biodegradable-plastics
Vog: sand from plastics

And let me apologize to all living creatures in the Pacific Ocean for my ignorance about The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which has now exceeded the size of Texas, a humongous, man-made floating garbage dump that many are now calling the eighth continent.

It makes me utterly ashamed to be part of this society’s vapid, disposable mentality, which has caused sand to now be formed of non-biodegradable plastics like plastic utensils, toothbrushes, and disposable razors. There is a beach on the big island of Hawaii, Kamilo Beach, also known as ‘Plastic Beach’ where this sand, known as Vog, is almost a foot deep. It makes me want to weep for Hertha, Earth Mother.

To the person on eBay who bought the turkey that was slaughtered behind Sarah Palin while she was being interviewed, let me apologize for your obvious lack of sensitivity and just add eww.

To the world, I’m sorry to have to be part of the world’s least green country (according to National Geographic’s May 31 Greendex study), but it does not surprise me. And for the record, India and Brazil tied for first as the world’s greenest countries. Go here for the complete study: http://event.nationalgeographic.com/greendex/assets/GS_NGS_Full_Report_May08.pdf

And finally, to Tina Fey: I’m so sorry that you no longer have that dimwit to impersonate, but honestly, isn’t it a relief not to have to dumb yourself down?

Now that I got all of that off my chest, I know that I feel much better . . . somewhat. More later. Peace.

Muckraking, Mud, and Mickey?

Hello? Is Anyone Out There With a Brain?

Dirty Tricks—A New Low

Someone has distributed a flyer in Hampton Roads that bears the official state seal and the seal of the State Board of Elections. The flyer advises that Republican party supporters should vote on Tuesday, November 4th, and Democratic party supporters should vote on Wednesday, November 5th.

The State Board of Elections has issued an official rumor-busting document telling voters to disregard the fake flyer. Distribution of the flyer has included the Hampton Roads cities of Virginia Beach, Hampton, and Newport News.

Pretty despicable stuff, huh? Now, I know that there are those of you out there who would say that anyone foolish enough to fall for something like this deserves what they get. But remember, there are people who are voting for the first time ever, for the first time in decades, for the first time in this country, not to mention the people who are already a little paranoid about voter fraud and don’t want to do anything wrong.

We’re dealing with a whole new body of voters, and the point is not to make assumptions, or worse, to be condescending. I cannot help but remember the first free elections in South Africa and the lines that those people stood in for days for their chance to participate in Democracy for the first time in their lives. Well, I don’t mean to overreact, but I’ve talked to people who are in their eighties, their eighties, who haven’t participated in the democratic process for years because they saw no point, and for the first time in a long time, they actually believe that their vote will count. What if one of these individuals received this flier and became confused? What if one of these elderly voters were to believe this heinous piece of idiocy, this malarkey. We cannot sit back and allow them to be stripped of hope just when they have found it again.

And yes, the typos should be a tip off, but I’ve seen government documents with typos. Nevertheless, the whole thing is incredibly lame and desperate, and it leaves me with a bitter taste in my mouth. I should very much like to find the perpetrator(s) of this bilge, and just ask them why. Why? Do they believe that this is humorous in some way? Do they think that this is scoring one for their side? Do they understand what Democracy in a free society means? Do they not realize how much is being sacrificed for this very act right now? And then . . . well, I would very much like to hand them over to Richard Simmons for one week of Sweatin’ it to the Oldies. (It was that, or something illegal, and hey, they aren’t worth it.)

(Go to http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/28/fake.sbe.flyer.pdfto see a full-sized copy of the fake flyer.)

Obama’s Tuesday Campaign Trail No Place for Sissies

Obama supporters proved themselves diehards in Pennsylvania and Virginia on Tuesday by braving the elements to see the man who would be president. The Senator’s first stop in a key swing state was a brutal one. Cold winds and icy rain in Hershey, Pennsylvania didn’t stop a crowd of approximately 9,000 supporters from turning out to see Obama at Widener University in Chester. Television clips showed the crowd covered in rain ponchos and garbage bags, and the Senator standing there in a rain jacket, still delivering his message: “if we’re willing to reach deep down inside us, when times are tough, when it’s cold, when it’s raining, when it’s hard — that’s when we when stand up.” 

 Meanwhile McCain and Palin bailed on their planned stop in Quakertown for an outdoor rally yesterday morning because of the weather. You have to wonder about that decision. But, what do I know?

And then the big rally in Norfolk last night brought in an estimated 20,000 Obama supporters—12,000 in the seats, and then another 8,000 on the field. I wasn’t one of them, unfortunately; I was left watching the live cast on my computer. Temperatures at Harbor Park were in the 40’s, and the wind was blowing off the Elizabeth RIver. I made the right decision, between the bright stadium lights and the bracing wind, my head would have exploded, and aliens would have popped out. And even though the Senator’s speech still wowed the crowd, watching it from home, I could tell that the poor man was tired. Who wouldn’t be? Three stops in one day, one in the pouring rain?

That makes nine visits to Virginia, and he has one more planned on Thursday in Virginia Beach. Am I planning to go? You betcha, gee golly. I’m hoping President Clinton will be tagging along for this one since the duo is doing stops together this week. Now that would be worth waiting for.

The Big Wednesday Night Television Appearance

It seems that Barack Obama doesn’t impress everyone. Obama’s 10-year-old daughter isn’t that excited about it, so said Michelle Obama on Leno on Monday Night. Malia overheard her father talking about the thirty-minute spot and was a bit put out: “You’re going to be on all the TV? … Are you going to interrupt my TV?’” Michelle Obama recalled. “He said, ‘No, we didn’t buy time on Disney and Nick.’ And she said, ‘Oh, good.’ And she got up and walked away. She was just like, ‘Don’t mess with my TV.’”

That’s why you have children. They keep things in perspective and keep you humble, even when you are running for the highest office in the land.

More on the big show later. Peace.

Garrison Keillor on John McCain (Thank you Flat Earth)

Sept. 24, 2008 | It’s just human nature that some calamities register in the brain and others don’t. The train engineer texting at the throttle (’HOW R U? C U > L8R’) and missing the red light and 25 people die in the crash — oh God, that is way too real. Everyone has had a moment of supreme stupidity that came close to killing somebody. Even atheists say a little prayer now and then: Dear God, I am an idiot, thank you for protecting my children.

On the other hand, the federal bailout of the financial market (YAWN) is a calamity that people accept as if it were just one more hurricane. An air of crisis, the secretary of the Treasury striding down a hall at the Capitol with minions in his wake, solemn-faced congressmen at the microphones.
Something must be done, harrumph harrumph. The Current Occupant pops out of the cuckoo clock and reads a few lines off a piece of paper, pronouncing all the words correctly. And the newscaster looks into the camera and says, ‘Etaoin shrdlu qwertyuiop.’ Where is the outrage?

Poor Larry Craig got a truckload of moral condemnation for tapping his wing-tips in the men’s john, but his party proposes to spend 5 percent of the GDP to buy up bad loans made by men who walk away with their fortunes intact while retirees see their 401K go pffffffff like a defunct air mattress, and it’s business as usual.

Mr. McCain is a lifelong deregulator and believer in letting brokers and bankers do as they please — remember Lincoln Savings and Loan and his intervention with federal regulators on behalf of his friend Charles Keating, who then went to prison? Remember Neil Bush, the brother of the C.O., who, as a director of Silverado S&L, bestowed enormous loans on his friends without telling fellow directors that the friends were friends and who, when the loans failed, paid a small fine and went skipping off to other things? Mr. McCain now decries greed on Wall Street and suggests a commission be formed to look into the problem. This is like Casanova coming out for chastity. Confident men took leave of common sense and bet on the idea of perpetual profit in the real estate market and crashed. But it wasn’t their money. It was your money they were messing with. And that’s why you need government regulators. Gimlet-eyed men with steel-rim glasses and crepe-soled shoes who check the numbers and have the power to say, ‘This is a scam and a hustle and either you cease and desist, or you spend a few years in a minimum-security federal facility playing backgammon.’ The Republican Party used to specialize in gimlet-eyed, steel-rim, crepe-soled common sense and then it was taken over by crooked preachers who demand we trust them because they’re packing a Bible and God sent them on a mission to enact lower taxes, less government. Except when things crash, and then government has to pick up the pieces.

Some say the tab might come to a trillion dollars. Nobody knows. And Mr. McCain has not one moment of doubt or regret. He switches from First Deregulation Church to Our Lady of Strict Vigilance like you might go from decaf to latte. Where is the straight talk? Does the man have no conscience? It wasn’t their money they were playing with. It was yours. Where were the cops?

What we are seeing is the stuff of a novel, the public corruption of an American war hero. It is painful. First, there was his exploitation of a symbolic woman, an eager zealot who is so far out of her depth that it isn’t funny anymore. Anyone with a heart has to hurt for how Mr. McCain has made a fool of her. Never mind the persistent cheesiness of his attack ads. And now this chasm of debt and loss and the gentleman pretends to be shocked. He was there. He turned out the lights. He sent the regulators home. Mr. McCain seems willing to say anything, do anything, to get to the White House so he can go to war with Iran. If he needs to recline naked in Macy’s window, he would do that, or eat live chickens, or claim to be a reformer.

Obviously you can fool a lot of people for awhile and maybe he can stretch it out until mid-November. But the truth is marching on. A few true conservatives are leading a charge against the bailout. Good for them. But how about admitting that their cowboy economic philosophy was at fault here?

(Garrison Keillor is the author of a new Lake Wobegon
novel, ‘Liberty,’ published by Viking.)
© 2008 by Garrison Keillor. All rights reserved.
Distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc.