Video Of The Week: ‘She Asked For It’

Laci Green is an awesome public figure and YouTuber that focuses on all things to do with sex education, rights and rape culture.

The ridiculous notion of ‘She Asked For It’ in existing rape mythology is the belief that a victim ‘asked for’ or ‘wanted’ their abuse or harassment because of their clothing, their actions or their situation.

Laci tackles this ongoing issue within rape culture in the video below and it’s well worth watching for her entertaining and brutally honest insight into rape culture and victim blaming.

The Oscar Pistorius Effect

Last week Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to five years in prison for the 2013 shooting death of his then-girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp.

However, he will most likely only be serving 10 months of this sentence in prison, while the rest of the time will be under house arrest.

Am I the only one that think’s Oscar Pistorius’ punishment is absolutely ridiculous in it’s leniency and not at all representative of the crime he committed?

Columnist Allison Pearson in her article “Another black day for Reeva Steenkamp and all women” hit the nail on the head when she said that ‘Oscar will do the sort of stint in prison you give to a petty thief, not someone who has stolen a young woman’s life from her.”

“So now at least we know. We know what a woman’s life is worth….for this casual monstrosity, Oscar Pistorius was handed a five-year term, of which he will serve only one sixth in jail. After that, he will be under house arrest and will be free to see family and friends, to feel the sun on his face, to make love to another blonde.”

“For Oscar the bereft, Oscar the remorseful, Oscar who was so distressed about losing his soul-mate that he had trouble getting his facts straight, is said to have started a relationship with another model. Well, fancy that.”

Pistorius was “jealous and insecure”. In a text message, Reeva had told her boyfriend: “I am scared of you sometimes and how you snap at me.”

Can you imagine if Reeva was the one that was jealous and insecure? It would be a different story. It seems like if you’re a woman and you’re jealous and insecure you’re deemed by your partner as ‘crazy’.  If you’re woman who is in a relationship with a jealous and insecure man… well there’s a greater likelihood of abuse or murder. (Yes I realise that’s a gross assumption… but I’m all kinds of angry at the moment)

It can be argued that in many ways Pistorius’ overt displays of emotional distress in court saved him from people seeing what he truly was – a perpetrator of sexual violence. If the roles were reversed, this would have been what doomed Reeva to a harsher sentence in jail.

As Daily Life columnist Dan Hodges points out, “She was a woman. And he is a man. So she is dead. And this time next year, Oscar Pistorius will be free.”

This case is not just an example of the completely warped sentencing for abusers but is also a reflection of the issues surrounding domestic violence and perceptions of such violence.

In the same 20-month window since Reeva Steenkamp was killed, an estimated 2361 women in South Africa (where Steenkamp lived) have been killed by their partners. That’s about 27 women every week. Or almost 4 women a day.

While responsibility lies with the perpetrator, at least some of these deaths could be prevented if more of us spoke up when we suspect domestic violence.

But why don’t we?

In some homes and communities domestic violence is normalised and it may be considered futile to intervene. People often take the it’s ‘none of my business’ approach for fear of revenge, uncertainty or a lack of confidence in the police system – supported by the utter incompetence of many courts to give justice to victims.

The more we talk about domestic violence, the more we educate everyone on the circumstances of abuse, the more we combat the ignorance and injustice that plagues conversations surround abuse and assault.

Let’s not turn a blind eye. Let’s make sure Reeva Steenkamp and all the victims of domestic violence do not die or suffer for nothing. Let’s change the conversation.

“As we mourn for Reeva Steenkamp, and all those others who have died at the hands of partners, it’s vital that we see the bigger picture. Because Reeva Steenkamp may have died alone. But her death does not stand in isolation.”

What do you think of Pistorius’ sentence?

 

Cosplay Does Not Equal Consent

Female attendance at fan conventions is growing rapidly with an estimated women making up an estimated 41percent of attendees at conventions.

Many women are also joining the cosplaying scene and dressing up as fantasy characters, quickly becoming a fixture at the pop culture conventions.

However, many women in the cosplay community identify that fans are taking the fantasy too far with one quarter of the women who attend conventions claiming they have been sexually harassed at some point.

Female fans complain of unwanted leering, groping and catcalling with also shocking reports of fans taking upskirt photos of costumed attendees.

There are calls for conventions to do more with San Diego Comic Con claiming that staff and security guards are on hand to help anyone who is being harassed. And the inclusion of note in the packet given to attendees stating, ‘Harassing or offensive behavior will not be tolerated. Comic-Con reserves the right to revoke, without refund, the membership and badge of any attendee not in compliance with this policy.’ But is it really enough?

Seattle’s Emerald City Comic Con but up a better effort to combat harassment than it’s San Diego counterpart with it’s  ‘zero tolerance policy’ toward harassment. Information about how “Cosplay is Not Consent!” is placed all over their venue, website, and event-guide combined with a hosted panel on preventing harassment.

But the very fact that such measures are necessary and needed is disappointing.

“It makes me sad that you have to tell people, ‘Don’t sexually harass another individual,’” said cosplayer Claudia M., dressed as Connor from the video game Assassin’s Creed. “We’re all here to do the one thing we love, which is just geek out together.”

As a fan of cosplay and occasional cosplayer it is incredibly upsetting to hear about the rise in sexual harassment claims at fan conventions such as Comic Con.

I don’t understand the reasoning behind people that think they can take advantage of cosplayers because they may be wearing a costume that shows some skin.

Women should be able to express their passion in whatever manner and enjoy being part of a cosplay community without the fear of become negatively attacked or harassed for their gender or their costume.

What do you think about the issue of harassment in fan conventions?

 

Awesome Person Of The Week: Lena Dunham

*Warning: Some descriptions may be triggering*

‘Girls’ creator and actress, Lena Dunham has bravely opened up about her date rape ordeal in college and her struggle with being a rape survivor.

In her new memoir, “Not That Kind Of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned,” Lena bravely speaks about her experiences of sexual assault and how she struggled to come to terms with defining her encounter as rape and her original (and completely false) belief that she was to blame.

“All I knew when I stumbled home from a party behind him was that he was sullen, thuggish, and a poor loser at poker. How that led to intercourse was a study in the way revulsion can quickly become desire when mixed with the right muscle relaxants.”

Unfortunately, like a lot of rape victims she was frightened and unsure if what happened classified as rape and immediately assumed it was her fault, a never-ending consequence of the pervasive victim-blaming culture within society.

“I feel like there are fifty ways it’s my fault. I fantasized. I took the big pill and the small pill, stuffed myself with substances to make being out in the world with people my own age a little bit easier. I was hungry to be seen. But I also know that at no moment did I consent to being handled that way. I never gave him permission to be rough, to stick himself inside me without a barrier between us. I never gave him permission. In my deepest self I know this, and the knowledge of it has kept me from sinking.”

Dunham admits it had taken some time for her to come to terms with the fact that she’d been raped in the first place, admitting that for a long time after she was physically and emotionally affected

” I spent so much time scared,” Dunham said. “I spent so much time ashamed, I don’t feel that way anymore. And it’s not because of my job, it’s not because of my boyfriend, it’s not because of feminism — though all those things helped — it’s because I told the story. And I still feel like myself and I feel less alone.”

She goes on to thank her best friend for identifying her experience as rape and legitimising her pain for her, which goes to show the importance of supporting someone who has gone through such a trauma.

“When I shared it with my best friend and she used the term ‘you were raped’ at the time, I sort of laughed at her and thought like, you know, what an ambulance-chasing drama queen,” Dunham continued. “[I] later felt this incredible gratitude for her for giving me that, giving me that gift of that kind of certainty that she had. I think that a lot of times when I felt at my lowest about it, those words in some way actually lifted me up because I felt that somebody was justifying the pain of my experience.”

So much importance should be placed on supporting victims of rape and avoiding the shame or excuse game when survivors open up about their traumas.

Dunham’s story really encapsulates the messiness and confusion inherent in some instances of sex, coupled with a misogynist and prevalent rape culture that surrounds current rape discourse to the point where victims blame themselves or are unwilling to speak out and report their assault. This calls for continuing cultural discourse on the confusing definition of rape and the prevalent misconceptions that surround the experiences of rape culture.

At the end of the day, women like Lena Dunham… who are brave enough to speak out and share their stories are vital for perpetuating a society that refuses to ignore rape survivors and their experiences.

Four for you Lena Dunham.. for being a truly awesome role model for those who have suffered sexual assault!

Not That Kind Of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” is in stores now.

The Problem With Stranger Danger

Did you know that 84 percent of rapes are executed by someone the victim knows?

84 percent.. That means the majority of those who are raped have been done so by a friend, partner, colleague…someone they trust and love.

With only 16 percent of rapes being committed by strangers why do mostly hear about stranger rape?

Is it because we’ve become too desensitised to rape committed by a partner? Or is it the shock factor of ‘stranger rape’ that is more frightening?

Unfortunately, stranger rape in today’s society is far more likely to be seen as the primary type of sexual violence attributed to the perception of rape and sexual assault. With the responsibility partly on our media’s shoulders for the way they report and represent such crimes. The “rapist” narrative perpetuates misconceptions that all sexual assault involves extreme physical force and is mostly committed by strangers unknown to the victim.

Both myths are untrue. And the statistics prove it.

  • 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men experience violence from their partners in their lifetimes.
  • 1 in 3 teens experience sexual or physical abuse or threats from a boyfriend or girlfriend in one year.

Perpetrators are more likely to target people they know because they know they’re less likely to be reported. And often this is the case. By deliberately refusing to acknowledge or be educated on the realities of rape, by ignoring rape survivors testimonies or belittling their experiences, we’re excusing the act of rape and letting bad people get away with horrific crimes.

If we continue to perpetuate these myths, individuals fail to correctly interpret incidents they observe, with research indicating many young people do not recognise what sexual assault and harassment looks like. And if they don’t recognise what sexual assault really is, how can they stop it if they see it or encounter it?

I recently read a  thought-provoking essay written by Tom Meagher, whose wife was the victim of an utterly horrifying rape and murder in Melbourne, Australia that made headlines in late 2012.

Tom has written a brilliant and brutally honest essay about ‘The Monster Myth’ in rape cases, reminding people that his wife’s rape was a rarity and that most rapists are known and trusted by the victim. I definitely recommend giving it a read, it’s really quite interesting and presents a bleak view of rape culture and consequences for perpetuating such myths.

What are your thoughts on the ‘Monster Myth’? Why do you think we’re so quick to report stranger rape, but less likely to believe someone we know and trust is capable of such a crime?

Read Tom’s essay here: http://whiteribbonblog.com/2014/04/17/the-danger-of-the-monster-myth/

Shocking Survey: One in five Australians believe drunk women ‘partly responsible’ for rape

A national survey conducted by VicHealth has found that “one in five Australians believe drunk women ‘partly responsible’ for rape”.

The poll surveyed over 17,500 people via phone and found that one in six people believe that that when women say no to sex, they mean yes.

“We are really concerned about the number of people – men and women – who still believe that rape and physical violence are justifiable, and that women are often partly to blame. A culture that excuses rape and violence is one that allows it to happen,” VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter said.

Given that younger people are generally more open to sexuality and human rights we would think they would be more educated on issues regarding sexual assault… Right?

Wrong.

Young people between the ages of 16 and 25 generally had poorer attitudes about sexual assault. 

“VicHealth believes we need to focus our efforts on the younger generation to teach them how to nurture equal, caring, respectful partnerships throughout their lives. All women deserve to be respected as men’s equals and to be safe, but sadly this is not the case for so many in Australia right now.”

It’s not only our attitudes towards sexual assault that is alarming, but the ever occurring untrue myths that perpetuate falsities surrounding rape, domestic violence and sexual assault.

Such myths, including that men rape because they can’t control their need for sex, demonstrate an abysmal societal understanding of the nature of violence. Violence is a choice. It is always a crime, and it is never excusable.

This is incredibly eye opening and downright frightening in terms of the culture surrounding victim blaming. This survey highlights the need in a shift in the way we understand rape and its consequences, but also in the way we educate our young people on sexual assault and harassment to combat this negative stigma.

The main influence on people’s attitudes to violence against women is their understanding of the issue and in turn, how supportive they are of gender equality. And we cannot change preconceived notions of sexual assault and violence without establishing proper education and awareness.

What do you think of this survey?

Should we have a right to be worried about the current attitudes surround sexual assault?

 

Victim Blaming 101

Unfortunately, victim blaming is deeply embedded in our culture.

There is a visible and pervasive culture of harassment and disrespect towards victims of sexual assault. It is easier for society to blame the victim than admit overarching systematic problems.

Rape culture can be defined as discourse that unconsciously tolerates and normalizes violence against women and sexual coercion in a way that views rape as inevitable and the victim to blame.

Telling a man or woman they should have prevented their own attack puts the responsibility on the victim, and not the person who SHOULD be held accountable. The problem of instructing potential victims to avoid rape or victim-blaming sexual assault survivors is that it puts the burden of responsibility of preventing rape on the victim instead of the perpetrator.

There is an urgent need to shift the culture away from the ‘myths’ that shame survivors into silence. To change this, we must rethink the way we view victims of abuse both personally and through stories in the media and be aware of the effect such thinking can have on people.

This social project aims to shed light upon this victim blaming culture in an effort to raise awareness and understanding of the effects such thinking can have on victims, potential victims and society as a whole.

Because if we can recognise it, we can stop it.

#thisisnotashamegame