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Tara Murtha at RH Reality Check provided us with a good reminder that media, after more than 40 years of feminist activism and criticism, still has far to go in doing our society justice when the crime is rape. The violent assault on an unconscious young woman in Steubenville, Ohio, while on-lookers watched and did nothing has generated vast amounts of media coverage, particularly in new media. Much of it has been profoundly appalling.

CNN's commentary was especially grotesque, with highly paid veteran newscasters expressing deep sorrow that the rapists' lives are now ruined, as if they were the victims and the real victim should be blamed for what the attackers chose to do to her. The undercurrent of their remarks was that the woman provoked the rape simply by being present and getting so drunk she passed out. In other words, they offered a foul what-did-she-expect critique. Meanwhile, in perfectly sexist symmetry, the boys were implicitly excused because drinking clouded their judgment.

Thirty years ago, there was another rape case, Murtha writes, a gang-rape at the Big Dan Tavern in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The victim was 21-year-old Cheryl Araujo, a young mother, who was later depicted by Jodie Foster in The Accused, a loosely adapted film version of the March 1983 assault. Four men were convicted of raping Araujo on a pool table while a large number of onlookers cheered them on. Many in the community rallied around the attackers, calling them the "Big Dan Four." She was so fiercely ostracized by her own community that she moved to Florida where, at age 25, she died in a car crash. Murtha writes:

Thirty years—a whole generation—after that case, some journalists are fawning over convicted rapists, and locals upset with the guilty verdicts are dragging [the 16-year-old victim's] name through the mud. Two teen girls were arrested Monday for physically threatening the victim on Twitter—the same day Fox News broadcast a clip exposing the name of the victim, who is a minor.

In her chapter on the Big Dan’s case in [the 1993 book] Virgin or Vamp, [Columbia University journalism professor Helen] Benedict quotes the Washington Post:

“What is remarkable about the whole exercise is how nothing much has changed. For all the talk about rape recently, for all that has been written, for all the progress supposedly made by the women’s movement, people are still trying to explain the rape by wondering what the victim did to provoke it.”
Sadly, that could have been written today.
What we do from today forward determines whether something sadly similar can be written a couple of decades from now. One way to keep those words from being true in 20 years is for men to take a stronger role in prevention. To be proactive.

Women have talked among themselves and with their daughters about preventing rape for a very, very long time. They've gone to self-defense classes, held seminars and published safety tips on how to avoid rape. But self-defense and safety tips cannot alone protect women. Because rape is the inevitable outcome in a society that objectifies and dehumanizes women in a plethora of ways.

Men should join women in becoming vocal about the reasons for rape and what can be done to prevent it.

To start with, men should stop contributing, as so many do now, to an atmosphere that condones rape through silent complicity with, or voiced approval, of rape jokes, various forms of victim-blaming and attitudes that treat women as objects to be had if the opportunity presents itself. Men should speak unhesitatingly in the company of other men to break this cycle.

That means fathers speaking to sons as well. Straightforwardly making their sons clear about what truly constitutes consent requires being clear in their own heads what it means. Consent is not given because a woman has previously given consent, or because her outfit seems to be giving consent. And she obviously is not consenting if she is too inebriated or drugged to stay conscious.  A campaign in Vancouver, British Columbia, included a wall poster depicting a woman sprawled on a couch next to some empty wine bottles stated: "Just because she isn’t saying no doesn’t mean she is saying yes.”

Fathers should set an example so that their sons also will not remain silent when such behavior arises among their friends or acquaintances, whether at school or some party where the liquor flows. They should impress upon them that there are no "provocations" or circumstances—none—in which rape can be excused. They should repeat these values until they feel as certain as possible that their sons will not be one of those someday accused of rape or having stood by, much less cheered, while their friends or acquaintances raped.

Celebrity men—politicians, movie stars, television newscasters—need to speak out, appear in public service announcements and otherwise join in teaching boys and men not to rape.

There are men who already speak to other men about rape. We just need a lot more of them.


Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2003Now they talk about costs! More WH b.s.:

Now, that Bush has finally gotten his war going, he's finally talking about the costs of war in treasure and lives. We've already talked about the $90 billion for one month of hostilities. Now, Ari talks about loss of life:
"Americans ought to be prepared for loss of life," spokesman Ari Fleischer said.
How could they be prepared? The administration and its allies have been saying all along that this would be easy. A matter of days. Mass defections. Smart bombs. Shock and awe.

The president never once said: "We may have to sacrifice the youth of our nation, but their sacrifice won't be in vain because yadda yadda yadda". This was always a video game war where the losers hit "reset" and rise to play again. […]

Meanwhile, the Pentagon told reporters about a Delta Force team tasked with hunting down and killing Saddam. If these guys are so effective, why not use them to hunt down and kill Osama? That aside, isn't there something rather unseemly about discussing assassination plans?

These guys have given up all pretenses of being a civil people. Bloodlust runs rampant. It's the law of the playground, might makes right.


Tweet of the Day

Right-wing hatriots attacking Hillary as gay marriage "flip-flopper," while simultaneously opposing marriage equality. #MissingThePoint
@GoAngelo via HootSuite



On today's Kagro in the Morning show, Greg Dworkin helps kick off discussion of the 10th anniversary of the Iraq war, and gives us as good a reason as any to focus on the Republican history of being wrong on pretty much everything, since forever. Let's find bipartisan compromise with the guys who sabotaged Vietnam peace talks and the Iranian hostage negotiations to win elections, conducted Iran-Contra and the disaster of Iraq, predicted economic doom from the 1993 Clinton economic stimulus and the passage of both Social Security and Medicare, and have been "reaching out" to minorities for 40 years!


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