Tag Archives: rape

Could We Stop Punishing Rape Victims?

So, I know I’ve been talking a lot about rape lately… but has anyone else noticed that rape has been appearing a lot in national conversation? It’s weird. I understand it in the context of the slut walks and other protests, where women are attempting to shine a light on fallacious yet pervasive thoughts pertaining to sex, sexuality and consent… but it’s been appearing more and more in the political world, too. Conservatives on a federal and state level are moving more and more often to try and redefine rape or somehow contextualize  and categorize it instead of simply saying “Rape is wrong and illegal.”

I mean, we all should know that most social conservatives are very much anti-abortion. Speaker of the House John Boehner, for example, recently made the statement that he wanted to try to make abortion a “relic of the past.” Don’t be confused. He’s not supporting putting money into science initiatives that might research the safe and healthy removal and maturation of a fetus from a woman unwilling to continue with a pregnancy. No, he just wants to ban all abortions, except rape and incest, which anyone with any knowledge of human history, or even just American history pre-Roe v. Wade, should be able to at least guess means abortions will carry on, just more dangerously.

But now we’ve got rape entering into the abortion equation. It was thought that social conservatives were willing to swallow the “let a rape victim have an abortion” pill because, well, it’s sort of like letting someone that got stabbed go to the doctor and be healed. I know that’s a crude comparison and people will cry out about human lives being involved in abortion, but rape is a crime and pregnancy brought about through rape is an aftereffect, like bleeding out after being stabbed is an aftereffect of the crime of being stabbed. Again, not a perfect analogy, but you maybe see my point. You’d think we’d want to, as a society, not force people to suffer unwillingly with the aftereffects of criminal actions taken against them.

Except now there’s Representative Paul Ryan trying to make certain abortions in cases of rape illegal, which I’ve mentioned before. To be more accurate, he’s signed on to co-sponsor the Sanctity of Human Life Act, which would give states the right to ban all abortions. Which I feel like contradicts something that just had an anniversary… some Supreme Court case… I could be wrong, though. Anyway, the act would also allow rapists to sue women that attempt to abort the rape pregnancy if their state makes it illegal and she goes to another state where it’s okay.

But that’s not all! Ryan isn’t the only one throwing his hat into the “force women to keep pregnancies they were given in an act of crime” ring. No, now New Mexico is tossing its hat in there. New Mexico legislation has introduced a bill that would imprison any doctor and woman that go through with a rape abortion for up to three years. What’s their reasoning? It’s tampering with evidence.

At which point my head hits my desk.

I’m not certain, but I’m sure there’s a way to get DNA even from an aborted fetus that could help with that evidence thing. And with other Republicans trying to burden rape victims with the need to prove the rape was “forcible,” again trying to categorize rapes as though one were better than the other, we can see a pretty regrettable trend starting up.

Starting up… I say that as if this hasn’t been going on for years. It has. But it seems to be very frighteningly kicking into a much higher gear. And that needs to stop.

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Can Politicians Just Shut Up About Rape For A Second?

Politicians, with a particularly large percentage of them coming from the Republican party, have been having a bit of a word vomit problem lately when it comes to the subject of rape. You probably remember Representative Todd Akin discussing the differences of legitimate and illegitimate rapes, which sort of kicked off the parade of GOP politicians being unable to shut up about rape. Then you had Richard Mourdock talking about rape babies being a gift from God or some such… Both went on to lost their elections. But the GOP realized the whole rape thing was a bad idea to talk about and decided to stay quiet.

Ha, just kidding. No, not only did they not stay quiet, but Georgia Representative Phil Gingrey decided not just to bring rape back up, but to specifically bring up Akin’s comments. And then to attempt to defend them by saying Akin was partly right.

Now, I understand what Akin and Gingrey are trying to suggest… Gingrey flat says it.

“[…] and what he meant by legitimate rape was just look, someone can say I was raped: a scared-to-death 15-year-old that becomes impregnated by her boyfriend and then has to tell her parents, that’s pretty tough and might on some occasion say, ‘Hey, I was raped.’ That’s what he meant when he said legitimate rape versus non-legitimate rape.”

But here’s the problem: Discussing rape in those terms is ridiculous and makes it seem like it’s a common occurrence. It might be somewhat common, but you know what’s even more common? Rape. Gingrey and Akin want to talk about not wanting to punish non-rapists, but they remain silent on how to improve punishment on actual rapists. Not to mention, I’m pretty sure their medical defenses are a load of crap. Gingrey says adrenaline can hinder the possibility of pregnancy, suggesting that rape is the primary type of sex adrenaline is secreted during… which is stupid, because he defends it by talking about couples consensually trying to procreate having too much adrenaline, thus entirely nullifying his point.

The discussion of “legitimate” rape is toxic on every level. It makes the subject turn to “Is the victim lying or not?” Now, I know we have an innocent until proven guilty system, so it’s up to the accuser to prove things, but rape is such a very iffy subject in court when it comes to evidence, and we’ve got a culture that loves to pin rape on the person that was raped. What we should do is make punishments for both rape and lying about being raped intensely severe. Make it so people aren’t as willing to falsify a rape claim, which has happened from time to time, as well as maybe deter rape and make any accusations of rape that much more serious, as the accuser is putting themselves on the line. Seriously, that’s the only type of political discussion that should be had. Treat rape as a terrible crime. Don’t attempt to justify or categorize. Even members of the GOP are saying that. Kellyanne Conway, a Republican pollster, and Kevin Madden, a Mitt Romney campaign adviser, have basically both said that GOP politicians need to shut up about rape.

Of course, that’s not going to happen. Not when “moral crusaders” like Representative Paul Ryan are going to try to pass bills allowing rapists to sue the women they’ve raped. And make many forms of in vitro fertilization illegal… for some reason.

Yeah… the day the GOP decides to stop being morally reprehensible while claiming to be the moral representatives in government may be the day the world ends.

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Men: Born To Be Rapists?

So, a bit ago, I was talking about the not-so-nice guys of OKCupid and the Tumblr dedicated to pointing them out with its fair share of snark. The Tumblr has apparently been taken down for reasons unknown, though there is an archive you can view that hosts most if not all of the posts the Tumblr once had. Anyway, there was something that I wanted to talk about during that post that I realized kinda deserves its own conversation.

Victim blaming and the true colors of male (and, sadly, female) douchery.

A friend of mine posted this status update on her Facebook that has apparently managed to catch on enough for a random blogger to make a graphic out of it and now know who the original writer was.

It says the following:

Men should be offended when someone claims that women should prevent rape by not wearing certain things, or not going certain places, or not acting in a certain way. That line of thinking presumes that you are incapable of control. That you are so base and uncivilized that it takes extraordinary effort for you to walk down the street without raping someone. That you require a certain dress code be maintained, that certain behaviors be employed so that maybe today, just maybe, you won’t rape someone. It presumes that your natural state is rapist.

Now, I don’t actually know how much victim blaming you’ve ever heard, particularly when it comes to rape, but it is a shockingly popular trend amongst men, and sometimes even women, to blame the victim (read: woman, as the majority of rape cases are male rapist(s) and female victim(s)) for something she’s done. Our politicians have been getting into the ever so subtle swing of doing that all the time lately, something to talk about later. Just think about all the politicians that have decided to not simply say, “Rape is wrong and should be severely punished” and instead want to qualify rape, as though some non-consensual sex is better than others.

And then you run into the ordinary jackholes that do things like this wonderful picture, which was apparently done by a guy but, if you look at the right, posted by a woman with the comment “Made me laugh lol.”

The reason calling people out for their God awful lines of thought – like the partner in a relationship is obligated to sexual activity with you when you demand it, or is required to meet a certain standard of physicality set by you – is a good thing is because of victim blaming and how horrendously it treats everyone. When we start saying, “It’s the victim’s fault,” then we easily move on to “Got what they deserved.”

Can you think of any moment someone deserves to be raped? I really hope that answer is no.

It’s thoughts like that that cause depressing statistics like this graph by The Washington Post. People just decide that the victims are lying about it or seeking attention or something. And, as that graph shows, too many victims are often too afraid to even report their rape. The environment we’ve created can’t be helping.

But like my friend said, it also makes rape seem like a natural, okay thing because rape is just one of those things men do, like farting. “Shouldn’t have eaten that Taco Bell! Now I have gastrointestinal distress.” “That woman shouldn’t have worn that short skirt! Now I have raped her.”

It throws our humanity and evolution into higher thinking beings back to the age of the primordial ooze. What’s worse, it creates a scenario wherein people believe all rapes occur that way: Woman got drunk, dressed like a slut, walked where she wasn’t supposed to, etc. I know I’m kind of narrowing my scope to heterosexual rapes of women, but that tends to encompass a majority of known rape cases as I recall, and the majority of rapes people blame the victims for. Point is, rapes very often occur in homes by people the victim knows, such as a boyfriend. Alcohol doesn’t need to be involved either. I know a metric crap ton of women that have gotten very very drunk in public and private places and manage to get home entirely unmolested. From what few stories of being raped I’ve been told about, alcohol wasn’t even involved.

If we’re going to start trying to do some good in the world, trying to turn this problem around, we need to stop lying to ourselves about the “why” and “how” of the conversation. We need to stop blaming anyone but the person taking the unconsented action. We need to start educating children on what consent is, and start warning them about the effects things like alcohol can have on it. Maybe then, that graph I linked to won’t be so freakin’ depressing.

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Depression Is A Serious, Dangerous Thing

With another GOP congressperson saying another insulting and idiotic thing about rape (and a second one saying stupid stuff about the dangers of pregnancy), and Paul Ryan dedicating his and Mitt Romney’s term in office to fighting to remove rights for gay people, you’d think I could talk about a ton of stuff tonight.

And I could. Really, there’s quite a lot to talk about. Unfortunately, this is yet another night where I haven’t exactly given myself much time to do any of that chit chatting or yelling about sexist, heterocentric, backwards policies from a political party that needs a swift kick in the head and a hard reboot on understanding what should matter in this country.

Instead, I’m going to briefly talk about something else that should matter to people: Depression. It is, in fact, a serious medical condition. I’m not talking about feeling sad because someone broke up with you or something, though I suppose that could trigger it, but actual, medically labeled depression.

It’s possible that I have it in a unipolar sense. I’m not sure. I don’t drink, which helps me stave off my worst bouts, and so far the most self-destructive thing I’ve let myself physically do is eat poorly and perhaps refuse to socialize. …actually, thinking about it, I might be socializing more, so scratch that. Anyway, while I’ve had a long, two year period of down days, very rarely uplifted by anything good, I’ve been fortunate enough to never suffer severe bouts of depression. Maybe I could benefit from medicine, but I’m just not going to bother with that. I, personally, want to solve this on my own because I don’t think I have a chemical imbalance, just a psychological dislike for myself and my life as it stands.

That said, I repeat that depression is serious business. And it’s something friends should look out for. Truly. If you have a friend that you think is depressed, and I mean depressed and not just temporarily mopey, you need to reach out to them. Don’t turn them away. Don’t dismiss their feelings, even if you’ve heard it a billion times before. That won’t help. Encourage them to see a doctor, but also just encourage them. Be there for them in good times and bad, because that’s what a true friend does. And when a friend is depressed, they could really use someone, something to help stave off the imagery of suicide that envelopes many of their idle hours.

I’m going to leave you with a link to a Tumblr post written by comedian Rob Delaney, a man who has actually suffered through alcoholism and depression. You can read about his struggles with depression here. It’s worth the read.

Depression can be life threatening. But it can be survived. And, personally, I think friends are a great first step.

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Oh Look, More Terrible Things Said About Women

And by members of the GOP, no less! Who would have expected such a thing?

…look, let me clear this up really quickly: I don’t think that the Democrats are all guilt free when it comes to treating women disrespectfully. There are Democrats that are just as awful toward women, toward gays, toward minorities as we keep hearing over and over again about Republicans.

But I’ve been hearing a LOT about Republicans saying terrible things. And it’s often powerful Republicans. Members of the state or federal legislature, for example.

I mean, here’s a recent one. Representative Joe Walsh from Illinois has decided to jump on the “Screw that Sandra Fluke woman” bus and continue to bash her for… well, trying to suggest that health care directly affecting women should have some women discussing it, and maybe health care providers should start covering birth control pills, which are necessary for some women to control hormones and cure ovarian cysts and the like. I don’t know if you remember Fluke back when Rush “Weather Balloon” Limbaugh decided calling her a slut made sense, but she popped back into national view this week with a speech at the DNC. And a bunch of Republicans attacked and belittled her. Walsh told her to “get a job.” Because, clearly, she’s got no job and just wants Americans to pay for her contraceptives, with the implication that Americans should be paying for her ability to have care-free sex.

It’s wonderfully disgusting, don’t you think?

But that’s nothing. That’s really just rude and uncalled for, especially compared to this next thing. Also said by a Republican.

But the great horrific, M. Night Shamallama-esque twist on this? It’s said by a woman.

In Arizona (which, despite having a female governor, is one of the absolute worst places for women legislatively, as well as minorities), a cop named Robb Evans drove himself to a bar 8 beers in, flashed his badge to skip on the cover, went up to a woman, put his hand up her skirt and rubbed her genitals.

Clearly, this is a case of sexual assault. A jury convicted him of such and the police force fired him.

But trial judge Jacqueline Hatch, appointed by Governor Jan Brewer, decided the jury was wrong. She decided jail time was unnecessary, sentencing Evans to probation and 100 days of community service. He also won’t have to register as a sex offender.

Then, she said this to the victim: “If you wouldn’t have been there that night, none of this would have happened to you.”

It’s pretty much the exact same as the old mainstay, “If she hadn’t dressed like that…” Except it’s even worse. People can dress provocatively, sure, not that the statement still has any merit or truth at all. But now, apparently, women should just not leave their houses. They should expect to be sexually assaulted at places like bars.

It’s doubly awful. First, it paints men as these basely driven creatures with no control over their sexual impulses. It suggests that we’re pretty much out there to rape. That’s just what we do. “If you just hadn’t been a woman, I wouldn’t have had to rape you!” It’s a pretty awful portrait of men, and no man should accept such accusations. We’re not sex addicts or rape machines.

But worse than that, it basically tells women that rape is completely their fault. That someone else’s choice is their fault.

Imagine this judge, Hatch, presiding over the case in Aurora, dealing with the shooting. “Well, if so-and-so wouldn’t have been there that night, she wouldn’t have been shot and killed.”

Imagine that. Imagine how quickly she’d be defrocked. Yet, apparently, when talking to women about sexual assault, it’s fine?

Yeah, I’m suggesting she should lose her job for this and for the statements she made. This isn’t just an “apologize and forget” moment. This is a fundamental lack of understanding of law, a broken philosophy that punishes victims and protects criminals from proper sentencing.

The very idea that women should be held responsible for the actions men take against them – “You shouldn’t have dressed like that,” “You shouldn’t have been there” – is disgusting.

Sure, there are things women (and men) can do to avoid having things happen to them. Don’t walk around naked. Don’t go down dark alleyways. Avoid places where people get shot every couple of minutes. But we should not be demanding women dress a certain way and go to specific places, otherwise rape’s their fault. If applied to any other crime, this line of reasoning would be laughed out of court. But for some reason, since it’s being levied against a woman and deals with her sexuality… Well, women should just KNOW better.

It’s disgusting. It’s reprehensible. Hatch should be fired and the jury’s original verdict should be put in place. And if you meet anyone that makes that type of argument? Slap them. Slap them reeeeeeeeeeally hard. For me. EVERYONE should be offended and disgusted by such statements and philosophies. EVERYONE should want them to stop.

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The Rape Debacle

So, I’m guessing you’ve probably heard about GOP Congressman Todd Akin’s comments during his senatorial bid in Missouri about rape. He’s the guy that tried to say women don’t usually get pregnant during “legitimate rape.”

Since then, there have been some rather stern and strong rebukes and disavowments from everyone, the disavowing coming mostly from the GOP. The Republican National Convention Chair has called for Akin’s removal from the race and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has even gone on record stating he “can’t defend” Akin, as well as stating that he is not against abortion in rape cases. An interesting position for Romney to take, but perhaps a necessary one after Akin’s comments.

Because, see, here’s the fun thing: This sort of commentary on rape isn’t new. Not from the GOP and their commentators. Anyone else remember Liz Trotta talking about women getting “raped too much” in the military?

Why do people feel the need to attempt to defend rape in any fashion? Or to qualify it as some sort of natural thing that happens? I mean, yes. Technically speaking, rape does occur in nature. That’s why some animals, like ducks, have evolved to develop anti-rape biological features. Which clearly must be what Akin was thinking about when he said a woman has biological routines to shut a rape pregnancy down. But Trotta practically suggested that men can’t help themselves. I mean, put men and women in close quarters and the rapings are just going to happen! It’s only natural!

So, somehow, this becomes insulting to men, who are now being compared to mindless, baser-instinct driven animals with no conscious ability to choose, as well as demeaning to women, who are told that men know women’s bodies better, or at least well enough to make laws that, frankly, entirely ignore the desires and traumas of a woman already traumatized.

And where does all this trouble come from? From attempting to differentiate rape. Attempting to qualify it. There are people trying to defend Akin saying, “Ah, but aren’t some women who cry rape lying?” Who the hell cares? Weeding out those women, which I believe the FBI says make up about 8 percent of the reported cases of rape, is entirely pointless, dangerous and ultimately harmful. Much like voter ID laws, but that’s beside the current point. After all, as the above link mentions, less than 50 percent of rape cases are reported.

Now, I’m not getting into statutory rape here. The definition of “choice” when it comes to age certainly becomes a sticky mess. Can a 15-year-old girl choose to sleep with a 17-year-old boy? Yeah, but that still counts as statutory, even down here in Alabama. Visa versa on the genders counts, too. It may sound like I’m qualifying, the thing I’m kind of writing against, but for now I’m going to consider statutory a complicated area of rape where consent’s definition is muddled by age and maturity.

In the consenting adult world, however, the definition is clear. If a person says stop at ANY POINT, you stop. It’s done. Men, women, the choice for sex is individual and distinct. To try and define it as “legitimate” or “more serious,” or to suggest that there’s a way to be raped “too much,” as though there’s a just right amount… it’s shameful.

As President Barack Obama said, “Rape is rape.” The idea that people need to debate rape and the results in any fashion is a simply disturbing one. The fact that discussion on the subject, particularly relating to abortion and emergency contraception for female victims of rape, is a discussion run largely by men in the legislative world is even more disturbing. Hopefully, some good can come of Akin’s word vomit: A look at how wrong we’re handling rape as a legitimate problem and how we can fix it.

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The Conflict Of Christianity And Modern Medicine

Christianity has been involved in a lot of politics as of late, what with contraception and same-sex marriage, and it hasn’t been coming out in the very best light each time.

…this time is no different.

In Brazil, a doctor was excommunicated from the Catholic Church for performing an abortion on a 9-year-old rape victim. According to The Independent, “Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, the conservative regional archbishop for Pernambuco where the girl was rushed to hospital, has said that the man would not be thrown out of the Church, because although he had allegedly committed ‘a heinous crime’, the Church took the view that ‘the abortion, the elimination of an innocent life, was more serious’.”

I would suggest that the rape of a 9-year-old child is the elimination of the innocence of that child, but maybe that’s just me. A lot of people that have heard the story have gotten upset about it, as some people rightly point out that morality in modern medicine is not such a black and white issue. Do you ask a 9-year-old rape victim to carry a child to term? Do you ask a mother to sacrifice her life for the possibility of her fetus having life? Do you allow scientists to seek out life saving medicine at the expense of stem cells? Stem cells that would be otherwise discarded? But does that then open up the possibility of people using stem cells that are less likely to be discarded? Do you let your religious stances against contraception ban the use of medicines that doubles as birth control and hormone control, medicine that can heal things like ovarian cysts?

Life in general has expanded far too much for religions based on texts several thousand years old to be able to clearly answer all the questions it brings, and medicine has gone further than most. We can now question what defines life and death. We can now define different states of mental wellness, comas versus vegetative states, et cetera.

I’m not saying that religion needs be based on our modern landscape. I’m not saying that religion needs be abandoned. I am saying, however, that Christianity in particular needs to avoid such stalwart, stubborn stances.

Consider Catholicism in particular. One thing they hardline on is contraception. To the Catholic Church, all sex must be in marriage and with intent to procreate. Use of condoms or doing something like anal is out of the question. Yet we now can determine if someone is infertile or not. So the Church has had to relent on this harsh stand by allowing infertile couples to be wed and have sex, saying that as long as they intend to have a child, it’s okay. They can cite Abraham and Sarah, or any other barren couples that God gave the miracle of childbirth.

Yet, personally, I feel it unfair to limit God’s power to the point of saying God couldn’t grant a homosexual couple a child if they desperately desired one. But the point is that medicine has thrown a wrinkle into the dogmatic stances, and it will continue to do so. This harsh stance against it will simply lead to angry, upset congregations and contradictory stances failing to answer to one another.

The needs of the many outweigh the sins of the one, after all.

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