Monday ReadsPosted: March 11, 2013
I’m afraid if you’re looking for a cheery Monday morning set of reads that I am not going to fill your bill today.
I’m not sure if you’ve been following the story of Zerlina Maxwell who suggested that we consider teaching men not to rape since we’ve got so many incidences of rape in so many places here and around the world. This is a timely question given the awful Steubenville Rape Trial that is scheduled to start today in Ohio. In many ways, the videos and tales from Steubenville show that rapists are more common than the psychopathic sexual predator that many want to conjure up to gloss over the problems we with have with rampant male entitlement. Get ready for this week in rape culture and apologia. It will be coming to media near you.
With the trial scheduled to start this week and after a judge refused to change the trial location, officials are again prepping for the glare of the media spotlight to descend on the town.
In a press conference last week, DeWine told reporters that additional charges may be brought against the other teenagers after this trial concludes. He estimated the case would last between three to four days.
DeWine also met with protesters lead by Jacqueline Hillyer of the Ohio chapter of the National Organization of Women, who called for the arrest of Nodianos and the other teens involved for failing to report a crime.
“The worst thing about the crime in Steubenville and it was a crime, it was not that it was so ugly and horrible and disgusting but that it was ordinary,” Hillyer said. “It happens all the time across the state, across the country in high schools and people don’t intervene.”
Rape is all too ordinary. So, to many of us, Maxwell asks a legitimate question. She even braved Hannity–the patron saint of white male entitlement–to begin a conversation on why rape is so pervasive and how we might try telling boys that it’s not okay to rape girls instead of telling girls to be in a constant state of alert and fear. She got way more than she bargained as a result.
As Maxwell, a rape survivor herself, told Salon on Friday, “I don’t think we need to be telling a rape survivor that statistics are not on your side. That’s insensitive.” But where she drew outrage was in her suggestion to Hannity that “I don’t think that we should be telling women anything. I think we should be telling men not to rape women and start the conversation there.” She told Hannity, “You’re talking about this as if it’s some faceless, nameless criminal, when a lot of times it’s someone you know and trust,” adding, “If you train men not to grow up to become rapists, you prevent rape.”
The mere notion that maybe men need to be involved in the conversation about sexual violence earned Maxwell instant disdain, anger – and a lot worse. The Blaze called her remarks “bizarre” and the Washington Times reported that she’d “argued against women arming themselves.” Deeper down on the Internet, the responses got even more scathing, from bloggers who said she’d been “oversimplifying” to the Twitter trolls who told her she ought to get raped. Thanks for the feedback, Internet dopes. Why would anybody think that you need some sensitivity training?
“I knew going in I was going to get a lot of pushback,” Maxwell says. “I didn’t think I would receive rape threats. I can’t even go on my Facebook page; it’s full of people wanting to rape me. It’s too triggering. The amount of insensitivity is shocking.”
As Maxwell tells Salon, her point to Hannity was not about self-defense; it was about how we look at the big picture. “Telling every woman to get a gun is not rape prevention,” she explains. “The reality is that we need to be changing how we train and teach young men. We need to teach them to see women as human beings and respect their bodily autonomy. We need to teach them about consent and to hold themselves accountable.” And when we do, things change. After Canada launched a “Don’t be that guy” consent awareness campaign in 2011, the sexual assault rate dropped for the first time in years — by 10 percent.
“I’ve tried to show my girl that not all men are like this, but only a despicable few,” and their mothers that ignore the truth that they gave birth to a monster”
while Hannity told Maxwell that “evil exists in the world”. I don’t think mothers give birth to monsters. I think most cultures teach men that women and children are prey and property and can be brought into control in whatever ways it takes.
One in three women will be raped in her life time. Rape is all too ordinary.
I suppose I should backstory this by letting you know that I’ve never been raped by a stranger but I sure as hell have had to fight off bosses and high school and college peers to varying degrees. I am not a rape survivor. I’m a girl who got lucky many times. I was ‘volunteered’ by a Junior League neighbor when I was a junior in high school for a rape and violence line they were establishing in Omaha. There were very few things like that at the time. It’s now a major program staffed with professionals. The program resides with the local YWCA. Back then, it was a few psychologists and concerned women. They got volunteers where they could and trained us with what little they had.
Two years of answering that phone one night a week morphed me into an advocate for changing rape laws by the time I got to university. By that time, I fully understood the threat of date and acquaintance rape. We succeeded in getting most Nebraska police departments to take officers responding to rape out of the property crimes division and asked for trained, women police officers. Sex crimes are now properly placed into the major crimes divisions. We also got the law changed so that a women married to her rapist could be legally recognized a a victim. We fought the clause that said two people had to witness the rape and testify in order for it to be ‘rape rape’. We also worked to block a woman’s previous sexual history as well as things like where she was or what she was wearing or had been eating or drinking.
Then there were changes that had to be made by the hospital and police responses to rape victims too. I remember when one of my friends got raped by a stranger on campus. She told me she thought she couldn’t report it because she’d been smoking pot before she was ambushed in the library by this criminal. She was afraid no one would take her seriously. I told her hell no and let’s call a police woman right now. But, of all the times I went to speak about rape at high schools and sororities, it became apparent to me what is apparent in the numbers. The majority of women are not raped by ski-masked, gun wielding strangers that could be taken care of with the careful aim of the right caliber of gun. I learned that was a myth of the old west about 40 years ago. I still want to strangle any one that says women make up rapes or ask for it. It’s obvious there needs to be some education out there otherwise this crap would go away instead of showing up in US Senator debates and on major news shows.
No one would ever blame a man for being the victim of a burglary or hold up. But, our rape culture gives many folks the idea that women are always at least partially to blame for the aggressive sexual behavior of men. No matter how old we get, how dowdy we dress, or how careful we are about the locks on our doors or where we park, the fear and danger is there. It’s not about our behavior, it’s about theirs.
Think about what kinds of things we teach children not to do via school. These things include not engaging in consensual sex, not stealing, not fighting, and a lot of other things. Check out these statistics on sexual assault and tell me it’s not a pervasive problem in this country. Many children–of both sexes–are not even safe in their homes, churches, or social groups. Anyway, I know that we have many rape survivors here whose stories are more compelling than anything I could write. It’s just that it’s going to be a week of watching this trial and listening to the same old canards. I’m prepackaging my hugz already because I’m aware that were going to hear rape apologia along with the facts of the case.
Anyway, if you want to see how cruel the world can be to victims of crime, here’s a look at some of Maxwell’s twitter stream via TPM. It’s awful beyond words. That she’s a rape survivor makes it more than awful beyond words.
So, here’s a few other things that you might want to read this morning that are slightly less traumatizing.
A favorite saying of Official Washington is that “the cover-up is worse than the crime.” But that presupposes you accurately understand what the crime was. And, in the case of the two major U.S. government scandals of the last third of the Twentieth Century – Watergate and Iran-Contra – that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Indeed, newly disclosed documents have put old evidence into a sharply different light and suggest that history has substantially miswritten the two scandals by failing to understand that they actually were sequels to earlier scandals that were far worse. Watergate and Iran-Contra were, in part at least, extensions of the original crimes, which involved dirty dealings to secure the immense power of the presidency.
There’s an amazing piece of cinema out on America’s Hunger Epidemic called ‘A Place at the Table’. It couldn’t be more timely given the impact of the sequester on basic programs like WIC. I watched it On Demand so I’m sure it’s probably there for you too if you have access to that or some other on-line movie source.
Table’s statistics are overwhelming, but they are intended to overwhelm. Whether it’s the 50 million Americans who are living in food-insecure households (which means they are struggling with hunger), or the fact that 1-out-of-2 kids in America will, at some time in their childhood, have to rely on federal assistance for food. This is happening in the richest country in the world, and the problem is only getting worse. Under President Reagan there were 20 million Americans living with food insecurity. We’re well over double that figure now.
Table’s stories will overwhelm too. Whether it’s the fifth grader who is so hungry that she envisions her teacher as a banana and her fellow students as apples, or the single mother of two who finally gets a fulltime job only to realize that she is no longer food stamp eligible, a loss of $3-per-day that puts her family into serious food insecurity. That means her kids no longer have breakfast or lunch at daycare, and her youngest is already developmentally disabled due to improper nutrition. Lest we think she’s living large off her new job, food stamp eligibility ended once her salary passed $23,000, a figure hardly sufficient to pay for rent, utilities, insurance and transport, let alone food. (Most Americans are surprised to learn that the parents of hungry children typically have fulltime jobs.) Those who think food stamps breed dependency are wrong. As a child, raised singly by my mom after my dad died early, I too depended on food stamps. For many of us, they are critical lifelines of support while we get back on our feet.
I’ve got one last suggestion for you to ponder and then I’m off to finish coffee and work with students. How do you redefine etiquette in the Digital Age?
Some people are so rude. Really, who sends an e-mail or text message that just says “Thank you”? Who leaves a voice mail message when you don’t answer, rather than texting you? Who asks for a fact easily found on Google?
Don’t these people realize that they’re wasting your time?
Of course, some people might think me the rude one for not appreciating life’s little courtesies. But many social norms just don’t make sense to people drowning in digital communication.
So, what’s on your reading and blogging list today?