Sexual Violence Round-Up

Today, a different round-up. Gender violence is a “pet” topic of mine, so I always want to post about it. But I usually don’t like treating it in a shallow manner, which means a great deal goes unsaid. Recently, there have been lots of discussions about this in my life again, which led to another 30 tabs being open in my browser… So rather than an in-depth post on one topic, I’m including several. Because they were all good enough to stay open on my desktop until I gave in and posted them.

Rape Culture

Rap, I mean, rape culture and Black women

In January, rapper Too Short appeared on XXL, where he gave various bits of advice to boys, regarding girls – including pushing a girl up against a wall and inserting a saliva-wetted finger up her vagina.

Inundated with protests, XXL eventually removed the video from their site, and both XXL and Too Short issued very minimal apologies (too little too late), neither of which actually took any responsibility for statements encouraging violence against girls, or acknowledged the danger of the attitudes underlying Too Short’s statement.

Professor, activist, and blogger Mark Anthony Neal writes that

In a society that continues to assert its familiarity with the bodies of Black women and girls… Too Short advising boys to “take your finger and put a little spit on it and you stick your finger in her underwear and you rub it on there and watch what happens… is, unfortunately, not all that surprising; seems more like the status quo for Black women and girls.

He adds that girls and women are not the only ones harmed by perpetuating this attitude:

And this is not simply about political correctness; besides advocating rape and sexual violence against Black women and girls, diatribes like Shaw’s also further criminalizes Black boys, within institutions—our schools—in which Black boys are always, already criminalized.

Neal calls for new strategies other than protest/petition/outrage leading to minimal, too-late apologies and content removal after the damage is done. I’m not sure he has found that alternate solution yet – I’ll be waiting.

Meanwhile, I just found this song — Your Revolution — by Sarah Jones and I found it stunning and somehow appropriate:

Feminist Looking Glass says,
This song is a really clever take-off on Gil Scott-Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” Sarah Jones sings that “your revolution will not happen between these thighs,” and invokes just about every famous sexist hip hop lyric of the past decade to make her point. → lyrics

UK’s Uni Lad Promotes Rape

Yes, it was a busy week for rape proponents… Huffington Post reports this story from the UK:

The National Union of Students (NUS) has called for the website UniLad, which claims to be the “number one university student lad’s magazine and guide to getting laid” to be pulled down over the article.

In an article titled “Sexual Mathematics” it stated:

“If the girl you’ve taken for a drink… won’t ‘spread for your head’, think about this mathematical statistic: 85% of rape cases go unreported.

“That seems to be fairly good odds.”

The writer then adds at the bottom of the piece: “Uni Lad does not condone rape without saying ‘surprise’.”

Though the article has been removed, the battle is still ongoing on twitter, where women daring to criticize Unilad are verbally abused, including lesbophobic use of the term “dyke”.

Critics point out that the issue is far greater than this one article; that Unilad is filled with misgynistic content that reflects, and contributes to, a corresponding misogynistic attitude on UK university campuses, and largely unreported and unpunished violence against women in the UK as a whole.

And still – the Twitter campaign has made waves, and provided critics of Unilad with a great deal of support. (I found this illuminating article via Twitter: Laurie Penny writes how Uni Lad’s “banter” is based on exclusion. And Another Angry Woman wrote them this open letter, and provided the image below, so funny :/ )

Which just goes to show we need to keep our voices out there. All the time. As frustrating as it often is.

Victim Blaming

Victim blaming is still all too common. When questioned about who gets raped women answer that women that dress a certain way, act a certain way, drink, are out late, or… are those who get raped. Their assumption is that it is women who are directly or indirectly responsible for the violence perpetrated against them. There are also indications that men are even more likely than women to blame the victim.

See for example the case of the Pennsylvania Liquor Board campaign, which first blames the victim (because she was drinking), then her friends (because “Calling the shots starts with you. What if you didn’t watch out for your friends during a night of drinking?”), and at no point blames the rapist.

Feministing wrote this powerful post about why victim blaming is not a good way to prevent binge drinking.  Some of the points to think about include:

  • These campaigns are aimed at women, and limiting women’s behavior. That is more palatable somehow than limiting men’s behavior.
  • However, a third of sexual assault perpetrators are intoxicated at the time of assault, so clearly there is a case to be made for redirecting attention – away from women, and onto the attackers.
  • The use of sexual assault as a scare tactic to prevent binge drinking demeans both the very real dangers of alcoholism, and the issues faced by survivors of sexual assault.
  • These types of campaigns reinforce rape culture. “We’re basically telling rapists they can get away with it when the lines of consent are hazy, that they should target drunk people.”

Jezebel’s Erin Gloria Ryan wrote of the ad, “Rape is not just a bad thing that happens to someone after drinking too much. It’s a deliberate act on the part of the rapist, a violation of another person committed solely because the rapist wanted to rape. The sooner we acknowledge this, the sooner we’ll be rid of stupid, finger wagging ads like these.”

Ebony magazine, for one, thinks that enough is enough – that public service ads aimed at women telling them how to prevent rape are misguided and harmful, and that men should be better educated instead.

Holding women and girls accountable for preventing sexual assault hasn’t worked and so long as men commit the majority of rapes, men need to be at the heart of our tactics for preventing them.  Let’s stop teaching ‘how to avoid being a victim’ and instead, attack the culture that creates predators in the first place.

And  in Salon.com, Tracy Clark Flory injects some reality into the dialog in How to Prevent Rape Without Blaming the Victim.

Here’s an ad campaign that gets it:

http://www.mencanstoprape.org/

And then there’s this public service ad from Scotland:

Survivors

This is one of the most amazing, emotional, difficult, painful, and necessary projects I have ever seen.

Project Unbreakable

About Project Unbreakable, from the project blog:

In October of last year, Grace Brown began a photography project called Project Unbreakable. Grace uses photography to help heal sexual abuse survivors by photographing them with posters that hold quotes from their attackers. Rape survivor and advocate for victims of sexual abuse, Yvonne Moss, describes the project as a way for victims to take the power back of the words that were once used against them.

Grace plans on photographing survivors for as long as she possibly can. Her goal is to spread light, awareness, and healing for those who have been affected.

If you are interested in participating by either being photographed or sending in your own image, you may send her an email at projectunbreakable@gmail.com with the subject line “Photograph Me” or “Submission”, depending on the circumstance.

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Project Unbreakable Facebook page

A Primer on African Refugees In Israel

Yesterday, it was mansplained to me that Israel cannot possibly be an apartheid state because it lets in all these refugees… And that refugees wouldn’t want to come here if it were. The problems with this argument are too many to list, but here are the highlights: Apartheid means segregation, and in its wider context applies to a policy or system of segregation or discrimination on grounds of race. The question of whether Israel, as a political/legal/military/bureaucratic system discriminates (against Israeli Arabs, Palestinians, foreign workers, non-Jews, Ethiopian Israelis, Mizrahi Israelis…) is not in any way dependent on the entry of refugees to the country. That is what you might call a fallacy. But the attempted use of this sad fallacy brought to front and center, yet again, how misinformed people are — right here in Israel — about African refugees in Israel. Because Israel doesn’t LET THEM IN. At all. Ever. And they don’t come here because it is a paradise — they come here because we’re the closest place they CAN come to, to get away from war zones, mass murder, enslavement, and rape. So I wrote this note on Facebook in a probably vain attempt to inject some reality into the situation.

There are somewhere between 35,000 and 50,000 refugees and asylum seekers from Africa in Israel today. Mostly from The Sudan and Eritrea.

None of these refugees are recognized by Israel as refugees. NONE. That’s ZERO.

Since 2003, fewer than 10% of these Africans have been granted some sort of temporary residency in Israel on humanitarian grounds. That’s a sum total of 2700-3000 Africans. Leaving the other 32,000 to 50,000 designated by Israeli authorities as INFILTRATORS.

Since 2007, the default treatment of asylum seekers is detention. When the prisons fill up, the refugees are released to city centers without further assistance — meaning, no home, no job, no legal status enabling them to find a job, no healthcare, no NOTHING. The slums of South Tel Aviv are the refuge of the lucky — many remain homeless. Or in prison.

Levinsky Tent Encampment After Violent Raid by Police and City Inspectors

Of course, none of this accounts for the unknown numbers who died or were detained on their way out of their countries of origin, or the Africans who have been subject to “hot return” by the IDF — a government policy that instructs the army to force refugees “back” to a neighboring country — in this case Egypt — where they are typically incarcerated, and denied any access to asylum-seeking procedures. There have also been incidents of Egyptian soldiers shooting at the Africans being “hot returned”. Hundreds of refugees that we know of have been imprisoned in Egypt or forcibly returned to the Sudan or Eritrea.

Meanwhile, those left in Tel Aviv or elsewhere in Israel also have no legal status or protection. In addition to being denied basic human rights to healthcare, education and the like, they are subject to police raids and random arrests, violence, and eviction. In recent weeks, the City of Tel Aviv destroyed the tent cities where many of the refugees were sheltering from the winter. One man, Jonathan Johannes Birkau, subsequently died from the cold.

Ever since the “refugee problem” began growing to more than sample proportions, Israel has been doing everything in her power to prevent additional refugees from crossing the border. The criminalization of refugees has been a de facto development, and now is becoming a de jure status as well:

Israel recently passed the “Infiltrator Law”, that provides that anyone crossing the border uninvited can be placed in detention — without any administrative hearing or trial — for up to three years. There is no age limit on this detention — it is being planned for adults and children alike. And no appeals system, or evidence required, because the law doesn’t care if the people detained are actually asylum seekers or work immigrants. The law also criminalizes anyone who provides assistance to refugees, providing for prison sentences for transgressors.

To this end, the govenment is building an internment camp in the Negev.

The new facility being built to “house” these men, women, and children will allocate about 5 square meters for each refugee, which is *significantly* less than even Israeli prisons allocate per prisoner. Government sources have said that this is intentional, to make it uncomfortable for the Africans to be in Israel.

None of this even begins to delve into the racial distinction made between the African “infiltrators” and say, people from Europe or the US who don’t otherwise have a “right” to be here, but are not placed in prison, and whose homes are not raided in the middle of the night, whose children are not arrested, imprisoned and deported as has been done regularly to non-western workers and refugees living in Israel, especially since 2010, when 400 young children born in Israel were ordered to be deported, with nearly 1000 more still facing deportation. (Children as young as 3-years-old are regularly put in prison cells, and deprived of food and medicine; authorities have also been caught in mulitple lies as to the legality of many of the parents involved, and children have been deported SEPARATELY from their parents. But Israel’s endemic racism is a wider issue than that of refugees, and too large to be dealt with in a note.)

At the time of this writing, about 2000 refugees from the Ivory Coast are in the process of being deported back to the IC, even though international humanitarian organizations are still recommending against refugees’ returning. The Israeli move is breaking up families, and depriving people of homes they have lived in since 1996.

Welcome to paradise.

Photo by: Shachaf Polakow

Thursday Round-Up

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Last round-up got a bit long, and I still had so much to share… So here’s more fun! Is Thursday Dysphoria recognized in DSM-5? Are all women mentally ill? Stuff you (maybe) didn’t know about women’s sexuality and health.
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Women's Health

Are menstrual symptoms a sign of mental illness?

The American Psychiatric Association wants to add PMS — or what they’re calling Premenstrual Disphoric Disorder — to the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-5.

'cause women are not stigmatized nearly enough by PMS....

Admittedly, when they say it, it sounds kinda worse than plain-old PMS. But basically, what they are saying is that if you feel depressed or irritable or anxious or tense, or otherwise have mood swings before your period starts, you have a mental disorder.

Which essentially means that being a woman who menstruates is pretty much equivalent to being mentally ill.

 Read the proposed DSM addition here.

Could DSM-5 Be Harmful to Your Mental Health?

The DSM, which has never been particularly free of controversy, is coming under increased attack, especially in view of many proposals and modifications that are more and more widely being viewed as detrimental to the health of children, women, and the elderly.

The DSM is a strange kind of double sword: Its largely unscientific definitions can be used as a basis for taking away people’s rights — such as forcing them into institutions, onto medication, stigmatizing them, etc. On the other hand, when they recently redefined what autism is, for example, they ensured that a whole lot of people would now be excluded from being able to receive care.

Among the changes to expect in the next DSM:

  • Gender Identity Disorder will become Gender Dysphoria.The revisions are intended to address concerns of social stigma while still protecting insurance coverage. The proposed update is getting mixed reviews in the transgender community.“We support the change of name,” says Lin Fraser, president-elect of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH). “WPATH believes that gender variance is not in and of itself pathological, and that having a cross-gender identity does not constitute a psychiatric ‘disorder.’” Others feel that no matter the name, a diagnosis that casts one’s identity as an illness should not be in the manual to begin with.
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  • Binge Eating Disorder is now a recognized disorder, as is Hoarding Disorder; and Hypersexual Disorder is listed in the appendix.
  • Mental Retardation will now be renamed Intellectual Developmental Disorder

In this article, Elayne Clift discusses why DSM-5 might be bad for our health, and talks about the calls to boycott it.

The Female Orgasm

And to a topic that is much more fun… This French documentary attempts to explain the intricacies of the female orgasm, which apparently remains a mystery to many (too many… :) )

And I find it particularly cool that the video was made available for viewing by passengers on Qantas flights!

Clitoris Mapping

Until 2009, no one in medicine or science had mapped the human clitoris. (In spite of extensive mapping done of the male sexual organ since the 1970s.) In effect, no one really knew what it looks like, how it functions, or much at all, and that’s the point. Cuz what you can see and probably know as the clitoris is really just the visible tip of quite an amazing organ.

 Read all about it ♥

The Weekly Trope

So, this isn’t really a trope. But it’s a cool website in spite of the genderized name: Fametracker’s Hey! It’s That Guy shows you who all those actors are that you recognize on TV but are not famous enough to know their names. Well, it’s an old site, some have become quite famous since…

And many of these actors do represent popular tropes.

Thursday Round-Up

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Two notable campaign successes: Planned Parenthood vs. Komen, and “gay cure” clinics in Ecaudor are OUT; Do women really suck at math?; Funky art stuff; And more… It’s another round-up!

(Yes, I know it’s not Thursday. I missed a Thursday. Meh.)

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From the Queer 'Sphere

Ecuador President Announces “Gay Cure” Clinics to Shut Down

After campaigns launched by All Out, Change.org and CredoAction went global — and local human rights defenders kept the pressure on in closed door negotiations with the Ecuadorian Health Ministry — the government just announced they’ll be investigating — and shutting down — hundreds of abusive and illegal “gay cure” clinics.

Read more, and sign a support petition to President Rafael Correa

Gender

Surprise! Gender Equality Makes Everyone Better At Math!

Tired of hearing that tired old argument that women are inherently less capable of excelling at math, physics, or other sciences? This delightful article explains the whys and wherefores of why that’s total CRAP. (And I’m sure you’ll have no trouble whatsoever with all the charts :) )

Art & Culture

Photographer Hal’s Vacuum Packed Couples

In his “Fresh Love” series, Japanese Photographer Hal photographed couples in vacuum-packed nylon, representing the “ultimate union”. The couples actually stayed without oxygen long enough for Hal to snap three photos.

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Tampon Crafts

And this is a whole different kind of interesting   → 

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Irina Werning’s Back to the Future

Argentine photographer Irina Werning takes subjects from around the world back to the future — recreating old photos quite amazingly!

     

See also Back to the Future 2

Women's Health 

Breast Cancer Awareness Body Painting Project

Continuing with art for a moment, here is art for breast cancer awareness.

The project Facebook page.

An all Breast Cancer Survivor project for awareness, fundraising, inspiration and healing worldwide… So far 25 brave and incredible women have selflessly stepped forward and been painted for the project.

Susan G. Komen Foundation vs. Planned Parenthood

Last week was all about the furor caused by Komen’s announcement that they would no longer provide funding to planned parenthood for breast cancer exams and screening, as a result of right-wing pressure opposed to PP’s abortion services. It was heartwarming to see the support that quickly arose for PP — from petitions, to blogs, to news coverage, and of course to donations that came pouring in and the increased awareness of both the need for breast cancer services and Planned Parenthood’s activities in general. The Komen Foundation’s top director resigned, and their site was even hacked. Now, Komen has announced that it has reversed its decision, and PP will remain eligible for funding. This campaign was the second great victory of the past week… Don’t let women die in the name of being “pro-life”… Keep the good news coming!