#whyistayed “I Can Handle It”: On Relationship Violence, Independence, and Capability

#whyistayed (trending on Twitter) // Why Janay Rice stayed (Feministe) 

I didn’t want to have a failed marriage at 25 I didn’t want my daughter to think this was ok and normal

I didn’t want to be alone again I didn’t want to be alone in a casket

: Kept telling myself if he didn’t hit me, it wasn’t abuse : Learned I didn’t have to get beaten to fear for my life.

“If you think about what keeps you in a relationship people to your life that are healthy relationships: your friends, your family, your coworkers, all of those components whether it’s money, love, history, you’re related to this person, you have kids with this person because you live together, because they care about you, because they were there for you, etc, etc. All those things are the very same reasons why women in those situations won’t leave. The good things can also be the reasons why you stay in a bad relationships. So it’s not about, ‘Well, she should’ve just left.’ It’s never that simple or that easy if they have children together, if he’s the only source of income in the family, if she has strong religious beliefs about marriage or what it means to be a good girlfriend or wife, all these things, which you can’t really separate out from the others, play a role.”

The Disposable Woman (The New York Times, March 2011)

“It’s these sorts of explicit and implicit value judgments that underscore our contempt for women who are assumed to be trading on their sexuality. A woman’s active embrace of the fame monster or participation in the sex industry, we seem to say, means that she compromises her right not to be assaulted, let alone humiliated, insulted or degraded; it’s part of the deal. The promise of a modern Cinderella ending — attention, fame, the love and savings account of a rich man — is always the assumed goal. Objectification and abuse, it follows, is not only an accepted occupational hazard for certain women, but something that men like Mr. Sheen have earned the right to indulge in.”

“I Can Handle It”: On Relationship Violence, Independence, and Capability (Feministe, August 2011)

“When we imagine abuse, we envision the act of abusing: the woman crouching on the floor, a flying fist, a sailing kick. Perhaps my remembrance of that time would be different if my abuse had been more prolonged, or more severe, but what I recall from that era of my life is not moments of violence but feeling as though I were separated from the world, swaddled in a thick layer of invisible cloth that I couldn’t ever swat away. I was in a fog.

Which is to say: I was in many ways incapable of helping myself—which, even years later, pains me to say. But there it is: The fog of abuse ensured that my emotions, instincts, and principles were muted; every ounce of energy I had went into my relationship and keeping up the general appearance of sanity. Had you somehow been able to land my healthy, normal status-quo self smack-dab into the worst of my relationship, I’d have gotten out immediately. That’s not how abuse works, of course. Abuse is gradual; abuse is systemic. Abuse changes you; abuse reduces you. Abuse took the me out of me.”

Ray Rice Video Sets Off Barrage of Conversations (audio from NPR’s Morning Edition)

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the ongoing national conversation on domestic violence that was spurred on by the Ray Rice video, I would encourage you to read the above essays, articles & tweets. Listen to the audio. Take the time to analyze your own reactions. Keep in mind,

“More than one in three women have experienced sexual assault, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey.” (CNN)

So when we ask ourselves, “why did she stay?” remember that we’re asking on behalf of our friends, family, and co-workers. These are not “those” women. These are our loved ones.

Culture of blaming the victim is root cause of failure for NFL, Ravens in Ray Rice case

Culture of blaming the victim is root cause of failure for NFL, Ravens in Ray Rice case (Yahoo! Sports)

“This undue process happened because it was comforting to think there were two sides to this story. Many people didn’t really want to see that video. They wanted to believe Rice was attacked by Palmer and did something to warrant being punched in the face. From the moment part of the video became public over the summer until Monday morning, it was easy to put some blame on Janay Palmer.

The woman always gets the burden of proof and the burden of pain. The woman is always cast as the gold digger, the mentally imbalanced stalker, the inappropriate dresser. The woman is always the provocateur.

If Palmer didn’t have her privacy invaded – if Rice’s punch happened in their non-videotaped home – he would still be a hero and she would still be the hero’s suffering wife.

Place the blame on any institution here: the Panthers or Ravens, the NFL, the legal system, or the media. But this isn’t an institutional failure. It’s a societal failure. We don’t believe women. We think they’re wrong and we have to be convinced they are right. It took weeks of humiliation and a videotape before Janay Palmer got some justice, and it isn’t much justice.”

We need to take a good, long look at ourselves, at our culture, at our values, and decide what kind of world we want to live in. Is a star football player really more valuable than a woman’s life and well-being? How much longer are we going to accept this narrative of blaming the victim? When are we going to start holding men accountable?

Jennifer Lawrence Nude Photo Leak Isn’t A “Scandal.” It’s A Sex Crime.

Jennifer Lawrence Nude Photo Leak Isn’t A “Scandal.” It’s A Sex Crime. (Forbes)

“As most of you probably know, someone somewhere dumped a deluge of purported nude photographs of a number of female celebrities online yesterday…

Ms. Lawrence and the other victims have absolutely nothing to apologize for in terms of the contents of the photos or the nature in which they were leaked. The story itself should not be addressed as if it were a scandal, but rather what it is: A sex crime involving theft of personal property and the exploitation of the female body.

Outlets as mainstream as People and CNN are referring to the photo leak as a ‘scandal.’ All due respect, it’s not a scandal. The actresses and musicians involved did nothing immoral or legally wrong by choosing to take nude pictures of themselves and put them on their personal cell phones. You may argue, without any intended malice, that it may be unwise in this day-and-age to put nude pictures of yourself on a cell phone which can be act and/or stolen. But without discounting that statement, the issue is that these women have the absolute right and privilege to put whatever they want on their cell phones with the expectation that said contents will remain private or exclusive to whomever is permitted to see them just like their male peers. The burden of moral guilt is on the people who stole said property and on those who chose to consume said stolen property for titillation and/or gratification.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

The Power Of The Peer Group In Preventing Campus Rape

The Power Of The Peer Group In Preventing Campus Rape

“[David Lisak] surveyed about 1,800 men, asking them a wide range of questions about their sexual experiences. To learn about sexual assault he asked things like, ‘have you ever had sex with an adult when they didn’t want to because you used physical force?’ When the results came back he was stunned.

All told, 120 men in the sample, or about 6 percent of the total, had raped women they knew. Two-thirds of those men were serial rapists, who had done this, on average, six times. Many of the serial rapists began offending before college, back in high school. Together, the 120 men in Lisak’s study were responsible for 439 rapes. None were ever reported.

Alcohol was the weapon of choice for these men, who typically saw themselves as college guys hooking up. They didn’t think what they had done was a crime. ‘Most of these men have an image or a myth about rape, that it’s some guy in a ski mask wielding a knife,’ says Lisak. ‘They don’t wear ski masks, they don’t wield knives, so they don’t see themselves as rapists.’

In fact they’d brag about what they had done afterwards to their friends. That implied endorsement from male friends – or at the very least, a lack of vocal objection — is a powerful force, perpetuating the idea that what these guys are doing is normal rather than criminal.”

Heard this story on NPR while drinking my coffee this morning and was totally blown away. This is just another example of why talking about rape prevention with men (something traditionally taught to women) is so important. I recently read Next Time Someone Says Women Aren’t Victims Of Harassment, Show Them This, a fantastic comic strip that breaks down sexual harassment and includes tips on how men can help prevent harassment from happening.

A program called MVP is taking this idea to the next level.

“MVP, or Mentors in Violence Prevention, matches upperclassmen with groups of incoming freshman. Throughout the school year, the older kids facilitate discussions about relationships, drinking, sexual assault and rape.

Xavier Scarlett, a rising senior and captain of the football, basketball and track teams, says he tries to get inside the heads of the freshman guys he mentors. They talk through various scenarios. What does it mean to hook up with a drunk girl when you’re sober? Would you be letting down your guy friends if you don’t hook up in that situation?

These conversations are tough, often awkward, in high school. A lot of the mentors still haven’t confronted this kind of situation in real life by the time they graduate. But once they get to college, says Iowa State University junior Tucker Carrell, a former MVP mentor, the scenarios come to life.”

I can’t recommend this article highly enough. If you don’t feel like reading the whole thing, take eight minutes out of your day and listen to it. Then share it with your friends, your co-workers, your kids.

Reporting Rape, and Wishing She Hadn’t

Reporting Rape, and Wishing She Hadn’t

“Whatever precisely happened that September night, the internal records, along with interviews with students, sexual-assault experts and college officials, depict a school ill prepared to evaluate an allegation so serious that, if proved in a court of law, would be a felony, with a likely prison sentence. As the case illustrates, school disciplinary panels are a world unto themselves, operating in secret with scant accountability and limited protections for the accuser or the accused.

At a time of great emotional turmoil, students who say they were assaulted must make a choice: Seek help from their school, turn to the criminal justice system or simply remain silent. The great majority — including the student in this case — choose their school, because of the expectation of anonymity and the belief that administrators will offer the sort of support that the police will not.

Yet many students come to regret that decision, wishing they had never reported the assault in the first place.”

Another terrible example of why women don’t report sexual assault. First they’re raped, then they’re questioned, judged, and shunned, and then the perpetrators get away with it. This article is really devastating in its detail; it reads like a horror story.

Twilight of the Assholes: Goodbye to Dov Charney, Terry Richardson, and Hipster Misogyny

[Note: For more on why Terry Richardson is a giant jizzbucket/douchecanoe, check out my previous post here.]

Flavorwire

“We take no joy in this,” said American Apparel co-chairman Allan Mayer yesterday of the company’s decision to fire its founder, CEO, and card-carrying asshole Dov Charney. Mayer’s pretty much the only one, though — anyone else who’s followed Charney’s career will be taking unbridled joy in the fact that he’s finally been shown the door. And with Charney’s soul bro Terry Richardson also in the news again over his general ghastliness, it’s been a bad week for the patron saints of ’00s semi-ironic misogyny. The only real question: why has it taken this long?

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Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerds

Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerds

We are not the lovable nerdy protagonist who’s lovable because he’s the protagonist. We’re not guaranteed to get laid by the hot chick of our dreams as long as we work hard enough at it. There isn’t a team of writers or a studio audience pulling for us to triumph by “getting the girl” in the end. And when our clever ruses and schemes to “get girls” fail, it’s not because the girls are too stupid or too bitchy or too shallow to play by those unwritten rules we’ve absorbed.

It’s because other people’s bodies and other people’s love are not something that can be taken nor even something that can be earned—they can be given freely, by choice, or not.

This essay is the perfect example of why men really need to start talking openly about rape culture, because this take down of the “nice guy” male nerd is so much more powerful coming from someone who is not a woman.

This is an intense, fantastic read, and it’s your must-read article this week.