Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Is the US Failing Rape Victims?

Alternet asks this question today in what is, frankly, an emotionally exhausting article. That exhaustion, mixed with anger and horror, comes from their coverage of so many recent instances of sexual violence after which victims are being told again and again that their rights don't matter and that their voices won't be heard.
Let's start with two examples from the winter and spring which are in fact on the opposite ends of what the media sees as a "rape spectrum."

First, you have Julian Assange, a powerful man accused of "acquaintance rape," based on two women's accounts. One involved a forcible sexual encounter that began as a consensual one, and another involved penetrating a woman while she was asleep. Both women were sophisticated professionals who knew Assange, and both were alone with him when the alleged assaults took place.

Both women were blamed, smeared and their identities revealed online, accused of being part of a supposed worldwide conspiracy to bring Assange down (just as the press has insinuated that DSK's accuser, Nafissatou Diallo, was an unlikely pawn of a conspiracy to silence Strauss-Kahn).

Second, we have the Texas gang-rape case, in which a large group of boys and men were caught on video brutally and repeatedly gang-raping a young girl. In this case, there was physical corroborating evidence, the victim was too young to legally consent, and the accused were relatively powerless men in a poor community.

The cases couldn't have been more different, and yet in this case also, the young woman was smeared when prominent newspaper stories fixated on her appearance, her dress, and her behavior rather than the demeanor and histories of the men involved.

So the lesson is clear: if you report an unexciting rape that happened in your home while you were alone with the perpetrator, you get blamed. If you are recorded on video being repeatedly raped by a massive number of people, you also get blamed. If you're a grown woman: blamed. If you're a child: blamed. If it's your word: blamed. If there's physical evidence: blamed.
It's clear, then, that the answer is yes, we are failing victims. And we will be until we create a system in which they feel safe to report, because they aren't afraid of being blamed. We will be failing victims until our society understands that lack of consent means rape, period. We will be failing victims until we acknowledge that tricking women into having sex, getting them drunk to lower their inhibitions, or making them feel that saying no isn't an option are all means of raping. And, we will be failing victims until our idea of rape prevention is to teach men not to rape rather than teaching victims to avoid getting victimized. We have a lot of work to do.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cosmo's 10 Tips for Preventing Sexual Assault

Cosmo, the women's magazine, has a handy list of 10 tips to help women not get raped. The problem with these lists is the assumption that a woman can do anything at all to prevent herself from being raped, the flip side of which is that a woman who doesn't do these things is at least a little bit at fault when she is raped. Wrong!

Melissa at Shakesville has a much better list of tips for sexual assault prevention, in handy visual form:

See the difference? The focus here is on a group of people who actually can prevent rape: rapists. Since raping someone is a choice, only rapists can make the choice to not rape. If a rapists rapes, only he is to blame.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Spalding County Man Charged with Murdering Wife

According to the Griffin Daily News:
Jeff Alan McCullough will remain in jail without bond on battery and murder charges in the death of his wife.

His preliminary and bond hearings were continued Tuesday by Spalding County Magistrate Judge Rita Cavanaugh pending the results of an autopsy on the victim.

McCullough, 53, is charged with battery and aggravated battery under the Family Violence Act, along with felony murder and malice murder, in the July 29 death of his wife, Debra McCullough. He was initially charged with battery and arrested when deputies responded to the couple’s Covington Road home in reference to a domestic dispute on July 20.

Charges were later upgraded to aggravated battery after Debra McCullough was found unconscious 24 hours later and eventually transported to Atlanta Medical Center. The murder charges were added after her death from the injuries that were sustained on July 20.

McCullough had been granted $33,000 bond and was released July 25 on the battery charges, but was re-arrested on the murder charges on Aug. 1 and has been held without bond since.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the McCullough family.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Henry County Man 'Person of Interest' in Wife's Death

From Fox 5 News:
HENRY COUNTY, Ga. - Henry County police are searching for a man in connection with a suspicious death in Hampton.
Police say 38-year-old Preston Marzette Young is the estranged husband of the victim, who was found dead inside a home on Masters Club Boulevard last week.

Officers were alerted to the scene when they received an OnStar signal from a vehicle parked outside the home. A 3-year-old child was found alive and alone inside that car.

Officers say Young may be driving a 2004 Dodge Ram like this one with the Georgia tag BKG 1602. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call Henry County police.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the victim's family.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Norwegian Terrorist Was Anti-Woman

In addition to being racist, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant, it appears that the Norwegian terrorist responsible for the massacres in Oslo and Utoya was also virulently anti-woman.

Hugo Schwyzer at the Good Men Project writes:
His manifesto, which largely consists of uncited work from a host of other right-wing thinkers, is now available online. 2083: A European Declaration of Independence gives us a picture of a man who is deeply troubled by multi-culturalism, by Islam, by modernity, by feminism, and by what has happened to traditional masculinity.

Breivik’s manifesto features an extended section called “Radical Feminism and Political Correctness,” cribbed uncredited from an American writer named Gerald Atkinson. The section complains “that the ‘man of today’ is expected to be a touchy-feely subspecies who bows to the radical feminist agenda.” Feminism’s aim, the manifesto continues, is to “emasculate” men, and render them “unwilling to defend traditional beliefs and values.” This rage at women in general, and at progressive feminists in particular, runs through much of the long and unwieldy 1187-page text. It’s a rhetoric familiar to anyone who reads the writing of Men’s Rights Activists.

So are anti-feminists and Men’s Rights Activists directly to blame for the actions of Anders Breivik? Of course not. Most MRAs – perhaps almost all – reject violence and mass murder as a political tactic. To suggest otherwise would be an indefensible and tasteless attempt to capitalize on a tragedy. But to pretend that there was no coherent political component to the tragedy would be almost equally indefensible.
Michelle Goldberg at The Daily Beast continues:
[Breivik] picked up the argument that selfish western women have allowed Muslims to outbreed them, and that only a restoration of patriarchy can save European culture. One of the books he references approvingly is Patrick Buchanan’s The Death of the West, which argues, “[T]he rise of feminism spells the death of the nation and the end of the West.”


Nevertheless, the right clings to the idea that feminism is destroying Western societies from the inside, creating space for Islamism to take cover. This politics of emasculation gave shape to Breivik’s rage. Thus, while he pretends to abhor Muslim subjugation of women, he writes that the “fate of European civilisation depends on European men steadfastly resisting Politically Correct feminism.” When cultural conservatives seize control of Europe, he promises, “we will re-establish the patriarchal structures.” Eventually, women “conditioned” to this new order “will know her place in society.”
When tragedies like this happen, we like to pretend that they exist in a void. If we try too hard to understand their causes, we have to admit that they may happen again. It is easier to dismiss one person as crazy than to confront the fact that there are thousands of people in the world who feel this way about minority groups, immigrants, and women, and that Brevik is simply one who decided to take his views to the extreme. On this blog, we won't let you take the easy way out.

David Futrelle, a guest blogger at Shakesville who regularly visits men's rights and men's separatist blogs in order to discuss them at his own blog, writes about an attempted experiment. Someone posted some of the most anti-woman excerpts from Breivik's manifesto on a men's rights message board without identifying their author, to see how they were received. It should be no surprise that the posts were very popular until their author was identified.
But Reddit's Men's Rights subreddit is actually one of the most moderate and least misogynistic Men's Rights hangout online. Others in the manosphere have stepped up to defend Breivik's manifesto (if not his actions) plainly and explicitly, in full knowledge of just whose ideas they are endorsing.

On In Mala Fide, blogger Ferdinand Bardamu praises Breivik's "lucidity," and blames his murderous actions on the evils of a too-liberal society:
[A]nother madman with a sensible manifesto. Another completely rational, intelligent man driven to murderous insanity. And once again, society has zero introspection in regards to its profound ability to turn thoughtful men into lunatic butchers.
He's not being sarcastic here. He continues:
That makes HOW many rage killers in the past five years alone? And not just transparent headcases like Jared Loughner or George Sodini, but ordinary men like Pekka-Eric Auvinen or Joe Stack who simply weren't going to take it anymore. No one bothers to ask WHY all these men suddenly decide to pick up a gun and start shooting people – they're all written off as crazies. Or the rage killings are blamed on overly permissive gun laws …

Here's an idea – sick societies produce sick individuals who do sick things. Anders Breivin [sic] murdered nearly a hundred teens (not children, TEENS – they were at a summer camp for young adults) and must pay the price, but the blood of those teens is ultimately on the hands of the society that spat him forth. He is the bastard son of a masochistic, degenerate, rootless world that pisses on its traditions and heritage to elevate perversity, mindless consumerism and ethnic self-hatred to the highest of virtues.
That final reference to "ethnic self-hatred" seems to be Bardamu's euphemistic way of complaining that not enough white people are white supremacists.

Meanwhile, Chuck of Gucci Little Piggy offers what appears to be a somewhat more restrained, if ultimately more puzzling, defense of Breivik's manifesto – or at least that portion of the manifesto that Breivik borrowed from the writings of far-right blogger Fjordman.

After first complaining, incorrectly, that feminists are "try[ing] to blame Breivik on MRAs" (he cites me and Hugo Schwyzer as examples), Chuck goes on to endorse Breivik's (and Fjordman's) notion that feminism "grease[s]the wheels to allow Islam into his country," as Chuck summarizes the argument. The rest of Chuck's post elaborates on, and endorses, Breivik's/Fjordman's theories, arguing that feminism's "emasculation of Western men has taken the organic policing mechanism out of the hands of men in society" and thus rendered Western society helpless before the Islamic cultural invaders. (More on Bardamu and Gucci Little Piggy's arguments here.)


No, Breivik is not an MRA. No, he didn't take his marching orders from The Spearhead or In Mala Fide. But he is steeped in the same kind of hatred that is prevalent on those sites, and many of his repugnant beliefs about feminism and women in general are virtually identical to beliefs widespread in the misogynistic manosphere – a fact that a few in the manosphere are already willing to acknowledge out loud, as we saw above.
Further suggested reading: A Tale of Two Terrorists Redux

Monday, August 1, 2011

Winder Man Charged in Wife's Death

The Gwinnett Daily Post reports that a Winder man has been charged with his wife's death after her body was found at the bottom of a well near their home.
Barrow County authorities on Saturday charged a Winder man with murder after discovering his wife’s body at the bottom of a well near the Gwinnett County line.

Authorities believe James Morris Lynn, 43, killed his wife, Tonya Faye Lynn, 38, whom family members had reported missing Wednesday.

Police recovered the body from a well off Etheridge Road in Auburn, and Georgia Crime Lab officials confirmed the body was Tonya Lynn, a mother of four. Records show the couple had a tumultuous relationship, and charges indicate the killing was domestic.

An autopsy by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is under way to pinpoint a cause of death. Police won’t divulge what led them to the well.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Lynn family.

Update 8/2/11: Lynn has confessed to killing his wife. Police are now investigating the death of Lynn's first wife, which was originally ruled a suicide.