Archives for posts with tag: crime

shots

Sometimes you read something that you wish you could unread. But then you realize, that no matter how much it hurt, you are stronger and better off for having read it. Because you are looking through the eyes of a person with a completely different worldview than you, who has divergent morals and boundaries – and it’s good to know that those people exist, so that you can learn how to keep as far away from them as humanly possible. And so that you can speak out in response.

I had such an experience the other night. While browsing the internet as I am wont to do on sleepless nights, I came across an article from the blog Feministe that confronts a recent piece in the Good Men Project (GMP). GMP is a collective of people (mostly men, of course) working to “define enlightened masculinity” in the 21st century and “identify what makes a good man.”

The story is written by a self-admitted rapist. A raging alcoholic rapist, who despite having been told by at least one women that he raped her, still doesn’t usually feel that the label fits (except when he’s morbidly depressed). And he has a claim to make:

“When you party, when you move in party circles, you accept certain tradeoffs…you start figuring out that one of the tradeoffs you’ve accepted is a certain amount of rape.”

So, the author sets us straight: Rape is just a side effect of partying. When you drink to excess, you’ve just got to expect to get raped some of the time. Or that you yourself might become a rapist due to your intoxication.

Written anonymously, the article chronicles the “struggles” of a young man who loves to binge drink and has had “more than one, less than six” experiences that he knows may have been considered rape by the women involved. But that’s not going to stop him from drinking – no siree.

The article, deftly entitled “I’d Rather Risk Rape Than Quit Partying,” was hailed by the female GMP editor Joanna Schroeder as a “frank, open confession;” she also goes on to thank him for “sharing his struggle with his own experiences.” Anonymously, that is. Schroeder does note that she and GMP “do not agree with his conclusions” — and yet her tone throughout her editorial notes is one of praise and acceptance for his “honesty” despite admitting that he is “deeply troubled.”

On the surface level, I can understand why GMP might have thought this was an acceptable thing to publish. They may have believed it was unexplored territory that might educate other “unaware” rapists who have a drinking problem. But when you read the piece and the editor’s notes as whole, it invariably leaves you feeling pity and understanding for the rapist. It is the exact rape-apologist bullshit that the author himself decries in his confession.

Do I think that something needs to be done to help more people understand what the concept of consent means? Absolutely, hell yes. Education on the issue would probably prevent some people from “unwittingly” date raping (as if there were really such a thing). But presenting a sob story about how this poor dude has been walking around being a rapist all these years without even knowing it — and harping on why we should understand that it’s mostly society’s lack of understanding of consent and his substance abuse that are to blame — works to make the reader feel forgiveness and understanding for him instead of making them want to change the system. They may finish the article and say, “Wow, I never really thought before about the fact that rapists have feelings too, and that they just drink too much to know what’s going on. He was a really nice guy most of the time but he just got out of control.” As if to conclude, “who among us hasn’t drank a pint of whiskey and then molested someone without their consent or when they were passed out?”

I just cannot find this point of view valid in any way, shape or form. I feel somewhat incoherent in my writing because my blood is still boiling. Date rape hits close to home – I know a lot of survivors, many of whom continue to blame themselves for what happened. But this post by NO MEANS tries to say that only men are rapists or that only women are raped. Rape is universal, perpetrated by both genders, all ages and against all different classes.* I use the example of this article because it is particularly inflammatory and works to uphold current standards of rape culture, and because the acts committed by Author Anonymous are an extremely common but ignored form of rape.

I know that the editors at GMP received a lot of backlash for posting this piece, and that I am very late in jumping on the bandwagon, but that doesn’t keep me from wanting to speak up. They should be ashamed of offering pity for the author instead of denouncing the fucked-up mindset that allows people like him to continue raping without consequence.

We cannot go on like this, for the health and sanity of future generations. I want my children to grow up in a world in which they are not taught that date rape is “no big deal.” I want them to understand and look for consent in their sexual lives. I want them to know that what they wear, what parties they go to, or whether or not they choose to consume alcohol and/or drugs does not mean that they must accept rape as a tradeoff.

I want to teach my boys to respect women, and my girls to respect men. There cannot be one without the other.

*Check back soon for a piece on the molestation of men by women, which should be completed in the next few weeks.

rehtaeh

When I heard about the suicide of Rehtaeh Parsons, I was devastated. We’ve lost another young girl, who – after being allegedly raped by four boys who distributed photos of the attack online – was bullied mercilessly by her peers to the point where she decided to take her own life at 17 years of age.

A year-long investigation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police was closed when it was decided that “there was insufficient evidence to lay charges.” Insufficient evidence– although many people saw the photos taken of the rape (which occurred when she was only 15), knew of the attack and witnessed Rehtaeh being bullied at school.

Her mother, Leah Parsons, told Canadian news source CBC “She was never left alone. She had to leave the community. Her friends turned against her. People harassed her. Boys she didn’t know started texting her and Facebooking her asking her to have sex with them. It just never stopped.” Things got so difficult that the Parsons moved to another city, but the bullying had taken its toll. Rehtaeh’s parents watched their once lively and high-spirited teenage daughter become increasingly depressed and withdrawn. After the move, Rehtaeh made some new, more supportive friends and heard from some of her old friends, who relented and decided to stand by her. But it wasn’t enough to undo the damage. Last March, she checked herself into the hospital for suicidal thoughts. And then on April 4, she hung herself in her parents’ bathroom.

Since her death, the police have reopened the investigation based on new evidence and a witness who is willing to verify the identity of the suspects and cooperate with investigators. Cyber-activist hacker group Anonymous has also claimed to have evidence that one of the attackers has admitted to raping Rehtaeh although he knew she was too intoxicated to defend herself.

Everything about this story is tragic and misguided – from the crime itself to the police’s handling of the case. But what also stands out to me is the bullying – the girls and boys that taunted Rehtaeh so cruelly that she ended her life. “People texted her all the time, saying ‘Will you have sex with me?’” says Leah Parsons. “Girls texting, saying ‘You’re such a slut.’” Teenagers aren’t exactly known for their maturity and this level of harassment is (sadly) not surprising. But why did so many of her peers turn on her? Why did so many other girls – some of whom may conceivably have endured similar experiences – call her a slut and disown her as a friend?

Undoubtedly, the blame for the crime rests on the shoulders of the alleged rapists. But if Rehtaeh hadn’t endured the bullying that she did, she might be alive today. The National Education Association estimates that 160,000 children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students.  According to Yale University studies, bullying victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims. And technology such as cellphone cameras and social media have made bullying that much easier for teenagers. Snap a picture, and it can be distributed to the whole school with one click.

This type of cyber-bullying is not uncommon. A few weeks ago I wrote about the Steubenville case: the rape of a 16-year old girl; photos of the night gone viral on the internet; months of constant bullying from her peers; and the subsequent conviction of two star football players for the crime. Steubenville garnered a lot of attention. But what about Audrey Pott, a 15-year old Northern California girl who killed herself after allegedly being sexually abused by three young men who released explicit photos of the rape on the internet? She committed suicide just days after the photos went viral.

How does it feel to be that teenage girl who everyone is whispering about in the halls? To be called a slut/whore/skank by people who barely know you? To be judged for engaging in sexual activity, as most curious teens do? For some girls, it is utterly life-destroying.

Most people, whether they realize it or not, have slut-shamed before – shaming and/or attacking a woman or a girl for being sexual, having one or more sexual partners, acknowledging sexual feelings, and/or acting on sexual feelings outside of marriage. I’ve seen people do it countless times. Sadly, I’ve done it to others in the past, and even to myself. But I want to change that. The double standard remains: why is it that a girl who has sex is a whore/slut but a boy who has sex is a stud/player? In movies, on television, in magazines and in our communities, people throw around the term “slut” in reference to women willy-nilly. But how many of them think about what their words imply? That a girl or woman is a prostitute because she has sexual desire? That because she is female, she should save herself for marriage or she is a whore? That women should ignore/not act upon sexual desires even though men can/do? Why do we accept sexual exploration from our sons but not our daughters?

Next time you want to call a girl a slut, rethink your choice and start chipping away at the double standard. If we support one another – and remember that we are all human beings just living, learning and changing over time – we just might succeed in changing this societal mindfuck.

Sign this Change.org petition to get justice for Rehtaeh by launching an investigation into the RCMP’s handling of the case.

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.