Archive for violence against women

"Doonesbury" confronts rape: "Welcome to the military, ladies."

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doonesbury welcome to the military ladies rape cartoon

doonesbury military rape

Garry Trudeau isn't pulling any punches in this week's Sunday offering, and for that we should all thank him. The treatment of women (and men!) in the military who reported having been sexually assaulted is abysmal. So abysmal, in fact, that women all too often will not step forward because they know how it will all turn out.

Hence, this Doonesbury strip. Standing O, Mr. Trudeau.

To refresh your memory, Think Progress reported this back in November:

A new report released on Wednesday calls on Congress to pass new reforms related to sexual assault in the military, a problem that the Defense Department estimates occurred approximately 26,000 times over the course of the last year but may in fact be even higher. [...]

In 2012, of the 26,000 military personnel estimated to have experienced sexual assault, 14,000 were men and 12,000 were women,” the report notes. The opening of new positions to women within the armed services is also dismissed as a reason for an increase in estimated sexual assaults. [...]

Anu Bhagwhati, a former Marine and founder of the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN), also spoke to reporters on the call about her experience while serving. “As a former commander, and a Marine who saw my own share of harassment, discrimination and betrayal, I saw swept under the rug often by senior officers often enough to know that sweeping institutional change is needed to give survivors of sexual violence a shot at justice.” SWAN helped draft the Gillibrand’s bill, Bhagwhati explained, arguing that it strengthens justice for both the victims and the accused.

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Campus Safety A Lie. Campus Justice Non-Existent. Schools Protect The Attacker

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Amhurst College

It used to be that going to college was not an issue of safety, but one of getting a higher education, transitioning from teen to adult and gaining a foot up on the future. Now it's become one of concern for personal safety.

These are but a few examples of what can only be called a spate of harmful incidents reported by HuffPo:

Alyssa Palazzo woke up just after midnight on Oct. 5, 2012, as someone screamed outside her residence hall at the University of Connecticut.

It was UConn running back Lyle McCombs, who Palazzo said was yelling, spitting and hitting his girlfriend. A few young men she believed to be his roommates stood by and watched, she said. Palazzo called police, and McCombs was arrested and charged that night with a misdemeanor, second-degree breach of peace.

Uconn campus

After reading that, I then read this in a separate HuffPo article:

Two former Amherst College students who said they had been raped at the school in Massachusetts filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Education, accusing the school of improper responses that one woman said included sending her to a psychiatric ward. Six current and former students at Vanderbilt University also filed Education Department complaints, saying the school in Nashville, Tenn., failed to properly respond to their reports of sex crimes or harassment. One said the university pressured her to allow the school to handle a stalking complaint, but failed to take action against the accused stalker.

Campus violence against women and men happens. It shouldn't, but it does. So it's the school's response to these attacks that is very important. Forcing a victim into a psych ward because she was attacked while letting the assailant go free doesn't seem to be sending the right message? Something's wrong here.

In the UConn case, the accused, McCombs, was given a warning by the school and placed on probation. But it didn't end there. He was a member of the school's football team, so his coach on the Huskies team was assigned the task of further discipline.

UConn football head coach Paul Pasqualoni decided the next day that McCombs' punishment for violating team rules would be sitting on the bench for 15 minutes.

Hardly even a hand slap for the attacker.

But what about the young woman who was attacked? She left school. And what about the girl who witnessed and reported the attack? She appealed to UConn for help.

Palazzo complained that she had to live in the same building as McCombs (the attacker) for the rest of the school year. "What about my safety?" she asked.

Palazzo said that the administrator replied, "If you feel unsafe, then you shouldn’t say anything at all."

What? She shouldn't have reported the attack? If I'm being assaulted I hope someone will call 911. What is this, the Kitty Genovese tragedy all over again?

As for the UConn football coach with the 15 minute timeout punishment, he went merrily along for another two years, despite another sexual assault charge against one of his players the following year. The kid got no punishment, not even the timeout.

So sexual crimes have no bearing on the university's disciplinary actions, especially when it's committed by a football star. Maybe sports put you outside the reach of justice. Ah, but then karma rears it's fateful head. This season, when the UConn football team started this season 0-4, the coach was fired.

What's the message here--everything's okay when you're winning? Allowing players to get away with these attacks is deemed appropriate? But lose the first four games of the season and the school will have you sh**-canned.

Now quickly back to the Amherst and Vanderbilt attacks. Perhaps justice was done there. Sorry, no dice. No charges were made against the assailants. One of the female victims did receive the school's full attention. She was forced against her will into the psych ward at the school's hospital while her attackers went free.

There is a campus sexual violence epidemic. And sadly the message UConn, Amherst and Vandy are sending is clear -- If you can't do the time, don't report the crime.

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter: @Linzack

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Ladies, If You Get Raped, It's Your Fault

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it's your fault

Rape isn't funny. It's horrible and it's a worldwide problem, not just a US cultural anomaly. Lives are ruined and victims remain scarred for the rest of their lives. Yet getting that idea across to a generally male-dominated society and lawmakers takes a very deft touch. Just demanding these rule makers, law enforcers and solons speak up for rape protection seems to be slow, ineffective and nearly elusive. Their talk is cheap, their actions as solid as smoke.

Their ineffective dismissal of the enormity of the crime more often than not ends up in the victim's humiliation and re-victimization. The abused are put on trial more than the perpetrator. They have to defend why they shouldn't have been attacked. It's time for that to stop.

Then how can we get through to those who don't care? Facts, sure. Statistics are a great tool. Tragic anecdotes by victims, they help as well. Pictures of the brutal aftermath register, but are seen, not felt. Pain, fear and humiliation can't be quantified.

Society needs to get the message. And sometimes a more subtle way to get through is the most effective.

Don't underestimate the strength of satire - a poke or jab. It can make the difference. Elections are lost many times on how big a fool or laughing stock one person has become, rather than what their opponent stands for. Funny can be a tool. It can make you think without the stigma of being lectured to.

This following is a perfect example. Though made initially for an Indian audience, it's as valid here as anywhere. Rape knows no boundaries. It's international and needs to be addressed seriously. Here's a way to get through -- not with a stick or a gun, but with a smile. Enjoy.

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V.P. Biden: Republicans who slowed Violence Against Women Act renewal are a "Neanderthal crowd"

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biden big f'ing deal

Renewing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) should be a no-brainer. Then again, House Republicans aren't known for their mental acuity, and Vice President Joe Biden knows it. The GOP has never exactly warmed to the idea of expanding access to certain visas for non-citizens who were victims of domestic violence.

Clearly, beating up, maiming, demeaning, and psychologically damaging non-citizens doesn't affect all those compassionate, family-valuesy Republicans the way beating up, maiming, demeaning, and psychologically damaging U.S. citizens does.

Standing by and doing nothing as women experience pain and suffering apparently doesn't faze them, especially women who look and/or sound different than conservative white male Congress members.

This must all be part of that stellar GOP rebranding effort intended to win over more female voters.

And as he is wont to do, Joe Biden called them out.

CNN:

Touting the success of the Violence Against Women Act, Vice President Joe Biden described those in Congress who slowed the renewal of the measure as a "Neanderthal crowd."

"I'm going to say something outrageous," Biden said at an event at the vice president's residence in Washington Thursday night to celebrate the 19th anniversary of act, which is designed to protect women from domestic violence.

Biden, who took a leading role in the mid-1990's in drafting the legislation when he was a senator from Delaware, said "surprisingly last year we ran into this sort of Neanderthal crowd," to laughter, adding that "I'm serious, I mean, when you think about it, did you ever think we'd be fighting over 17 years, 18 years later? To reauthorize this."

applause gif

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Oregon festival empowers girls, promotes Planned Parenthood, anti-domestic & sexual violence groups, more

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lucia

Photo via Fullbright Company blog

One of my favorite things about having taught and directed shows at a (public) performing arts high school is keeping in touch with my favorite students after they've graduated. Lucia was one of the brightest, sweetest, quirkiest-in-a-good way kids I had, and recently surprised me with a Facebook message or nine filling me in on what she's been up to recently.

I was so impressed that I asked her to write up a post. Who knew she'd end up combining her entertainment skills with politics?

This... is so cool:

The Slabtown Grrrl Front

By Lucia Fasano

When I moved to Portland, Oregon, in the Fall of 2012, part of the allure was the nostalgia of the Riot Grrrl Movement that started in the Pacific Northwest in the 90’s, along with grunge. As a young, female musician/comedian, the Riot Grrrl Movement really called to me. It was a stark contrast to 90’s pop music and girl groups, a rebellion against societal norms of how girls are supposed to act, behave, and especially perform. I was hoping to catch a glimmer of this feminist punk rock wave when I moved to Portland, and I found that people were looking for the same thing.

At the time, I was barely 20, and barely allowed in the venues that I played at. Turned out that Doug Rogers, the new owner of Slabtown, was doing his part to bring real punk rock back to Portland. He filed for licenses to make his venue all-ages. After expressing mutual interest in feminism and creating a venue that was welcoming to all, he had his booker, Melissa Meszaros, reach out to me about helping her put on an all-ages, all-inclusive music festival to revive Riot Grrrl in April. Reaching out to the community, the event became much more.

With important Portland women’s shelters being closed down due to lack of funding, and executive director of the Oregon Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence stating that Oregon shelters are funded at less than 50 percent of what they need, we wanted these issues to be prevalent in the festival, as well as responding to the attacks on women’s reproductive health in America by promoting Planned Parenthood and local feminist community center, In Other Words.

The event, known as “The Slabtown Grrrl Front” became a 4 day music festival with over 25 bands, comedians, spoken word, an art show, video-game demoing for a local riot grrrl themed game, body positivity clothing swap, belly dancing, zine workshops, young volunteers, and more, with ticket proceeds going to performer’s choice of Planned Parenthood, The Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, In Other Words Feminist Community Center, and Bitch Media. The running theme? Empowering girls.

The Slabtown Grrrl Front was a big success when it came to bringing in money for feminist causes, but to me, the true sign of success were the performers who told me that they’ve never felt more like they belonged at a show-- and the men who said they’d never seen all-girl bands that rocked that hard before, and wondered why bands with women don’t get more notoriety in the music business. Other shows have been organized by people who met each other at the event, for similar causes. A SoCal Grrrl Front is in the works, inspired by us.

Intersectionality between cultures and movements, helping challenge gender inequality in the art and political landscape, from rock and roll to video games, by promoting feminist causes and artists is my passion and the goal of the Slabtown Grrrl Front, as well as reaching out to the youth in our community and letting them get involved with politics that affects them and their peers, their local art scene,  and create the healthy media they want to see. If we don’t do it, someone else will do it for us-- and they won’t have our best interests at heart.

The Slabtown Grrrl Front will be back in Portland next year, welcoming artists and activists everywhere to join us.

If you're interested in volunteering at the Slabtown Grrrl Front for 2014, please contact Melissa Meszaros at melslabtownbooking@gmail.com or luciacfasano@gmail.com.

Links:

The Slabtown Grrrl Front’s Facebook Page

Lucia’s Pages:

Facebook

When My Eyes Are Closed (Demo)

Some press for Slabtown Grrrl Front Fest 2013:

Coverage in the Portland Tribune

Interview in Willamette Week:

Fullbright Company blog

Mention in Portland Mercury

And just for fun:

"I Love The Lord!" by Lucia Fasano

Lyrics:
I love the Lord,
I love the Lord,
But does the Lord- love the Lord?
I love the Lord,
Yes he's a dream
But does the Lord have low Self-Esteem?
The Ten Commandments
Kinda sound like
Affirmations
He'd say in his mirror
That he was given
By a life coach
So he'd feel
Hotter and thinner
I love the Lord,
I love the Lord
But does the Lord
Love the Lord?
I love the Lord,
Yes he's a dream
But does the Lord have low Self-Esteem?
"Thou shalt not have no other gods before me"
He kind of sounds like my ex-boyfriend Tony
I guess if I was all high and mighty
I'd still kind of get jealous and clingy
I love the Lord,
I love the Lord
But does the Lord
Love the Lord?
I love the Lord,
Yes he's a dream
But is the Lord eating his feelings?

girl power

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Facebook to crack down on hate speech, will remove posts and images that promote violence against women

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unlike

I do not like Facebook. I hate using it, but many readers depend on our TPC page for our posts. My son used Facebook to make sure we knew he was okay after the Boston bombings (he was only two doors away from the second explosion). My former students use it to stay in touch with me. But if I felt I could eliminate Facebook from my life, I would.

It constantly glitches, it's annoying to use, the format keeps changing, I keep getting pop-ups explaining what seems like daily adjustments to their features, and don't get me started on the privacy issues and Mark Zuckerberg's political group's support of the filthy Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

I do not like Facebook. But I use it, very reluctantly. I look forward to the day I no longer rely on it, and I resent the reliance that I admit to, along with my own unwillingness to delete my account.

My personal page was once suspended for including this image as part of a post on women's health care:

pregnant woman

They thought it was pornographic, apparently. My account was restored after I protested.

So a beautiful photo of a pregnant woman was considered porn, and my innocuous page was dispensed with immediately, but it took Facebook this long to crack down on actual, you know, misogyny and violence against women posts. Via the L.A. Times:

Activists say an online campaign to curb misogynist content on Facebook could be a watershed moment for a growing movement to remove posts and images that promote violence against women on the Web.

Women, Action and the Media launched the campaign last week, urging major companies to pull their advertisements from Facebook that could run alongside graphic language and images of rape, abuse and other violence against women.

Heeding the call, more than a dozen advertisers, including Nissan Motor Co. and Nationwide Building Society, removed their ads from Facebook, while others, such as American Express and Unilever's Dove brand, pressured Facebook Inc. to remove the offending pages. [...]

Facebook, which makes the bulk of its revenue from advertising, said Tuesday that it is reviewing its guidelines to evaluate content that violates its standards and will train moderators to identify and remove hate speech.

Yes, money talks.

"Review" away, FB, because that's worked so well for you in the past.

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What I will not write about today

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frustrated25

Sometimes I get so frustrated and/or disheartened and/or annoyed by some of the news stories of the day that I can’t bring myself to write about them. Here are a few recent reports that made my blood pressure hit the roof. I am avoiding delving into them at length out of concern for my physical and mental health.

See what I mean? So who’s up for a couple of Margs or a trough of wine?

drunk wine shitfaced

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