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.

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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.

This Is What Sex-Positive Parenting Really Looks Like

This Is What Sex-Positive Parenting Really Looks Like

“I’m what some people call ‘sex-positive.’ That doesn’t mean I talk with my 4-year-olds about how great sex is and how good it feels. It means I don’t pretend it’s something other than it is.

As parents, we lie all the time. About the Easter Bunny or Santa or the Tooth Fairy, about how long 10 minutes is, about whether or not we remembered they wanted to have grilled cheese for dinner again… We lie a lot. But one thing I never lie about is sex.

I don’t want them to grow up ashamed of their bodies or confused about what they do. I don’t tell them about cabbage patches or storks; I make an effort, always, to be honest about human reproduction. Every aspect of it.”

Another fantastic essay about being honest with your children about sex. (If you missed it, be sure to also check out “What If We Admitted to Children That Sex Is Primarily About Pleasure?”) I hope one day we can live in a world where shame about our bodies isn’t a dominant aspect of our culture, and ladies like this are leading the way.

Tarred and Feathered: Help Wanted

Tarred and Feathered: Help Wanted (Apr 2014)

“There’s one group of people that is universally tarred and feathered in the United States and most of the world. We never hear from them, because they can’t identify themselves without putting their livelihoods and reputations at risk. That group is pedophiles. It turns out lots of them desperately want help, but because it’s so hard to talk about their situation it’s almost impossible for them to find it. Reporter Luke Malone spent a year and a half talking to people in this situation, and he has this story about one of them.”

I was one of many thousands (millions?) of Americans stuck in traffic last night driving home at the end of a holiday weekend. Luckily I had plenty of episodes of This American Life to catch up on, and this segment especially was one I had to share with you. I would encourage you to try to listen to this even if (especially if) it makes you uncomfortable. Because it definitely made me uncomfortable, but I’m better for having heard it.

Tearing Down the Whorearchy From the Inside

Tearing Down the Whorearchy From the Inside

“I am often asked if there is solidarity among sex workers. The answer, as I’ve come to slowly and painfully discover, is no. We’re all essentially doing the same job — selling tickets to a fantasy — so you might imagine that, like retail, food service, or any other profession, we might have some form of solidarity. But what I’ve learned about the sex work hierarchy — or the whorarchy, if you will — has helped shed some light on some of the lies I believe all women are buying to one degree or another.

Since filming my first porn scene, I’ve discovered that sex work segregates itself along perceived social and legal lines ranging from phone-sex operation to stripping and porn to prostitution.”

This excellent piece was written by Belle Knox, the fascinating Duke student profiled in Portrait of a Porn Star.

[See also: There’s No Such Thing as a Slut]

There’s No Such Thing as a Slut

There’s No Such Thing as a Slut

A new longitudinal study examined how college students slut-shame—and found that the practice is as illogical as it is damaging. The researchers interviewed the 53 women on their floor every year for five years—from the time they were freshmen through their first year out of college.

Their findings about the students’ academic success later formed the basis for Paying for the Party, their recent book about how the college experience bolsters inequality. They found that the women’s “trajectories were shaped not only by income … but also by how much debt they carried, how much financial assistance they could expect from their parents, their social networks, and their financial prospects.”

But in the process, they began to notice that the women’s attitudes about sex were also influenced by their families’ incomes. The rampant slut-shaming, Armstrong found, was only a symptom of the women’s entrenched classism. But more importantly, the allegations of sluttiness had little to do with real-life behavior

This is not really a surprise to me; “slutty” doesn’t even really mean anything anymore. In some way it’s comparable to the word “bastard,” which of course initially referred to children with unmarried parents, and now is just a meaner way of calling someone a jerk.

Unfortunately, even though “slutty” has no real definition, it’s still a powerful, horrible word, because women are still judged on their level of promiscuity. This article sheds light on the fact that different types of women are judged differently for the same behavior, depending on their social standing. I hate the fact that women are still so hard on each other; it’s hard enough living in a society rampant in misogynism & sexism without adding the additional burden of bringing one another down.

Teaching Good Sex [Nov 2011]

Teaching Good Sex [Nov 2011]

“First base, second base, third base, home run,” Al Vernacchio ticked off the classic baseball terms for sex acts. His goal was to prompt the students in Sexuality and Society — an elective for seniors at the private Friends’ Central School on Philadelphia’s affluent Main Line — to examine the assumptions buried in the venerable metaphor. “Give me some more,” urged the fast-talking 47-year-old, who teaches 9th- and 12th-grade English as well as human sexuality. Arrayed before Vernacchio was a circle of small desks occupied by 22 teenagers, six male and the rest female — a blur of sweatshirts and Ugg boots and form-fitting leggings.

In its breadth, depth and frank embrace of sexuality as, what Vernacchio calls, a “force for good” — even for teenagers — this sex-ed class may well be the only one of its kind in the United States. “There is abstinence-only sex education, and there’s abstinence-based sex ed,” said Leslie Kantor, vice president of education for Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “There’s almost nothing else left in public schools.”

Across the country, the approach ranges from abstinence until marriage is the only acceptable choice, contraceptives don’t work and premarital sex is physically and emotionally harmful, to abstinence is usually best, but if you must have sex, here are some ways to protect yourself from pregnancy and disease. The latter has been called “disaster prevention” education by sex educators who wish they could teach more; a dramatic example of the former comes in a video called “No Second Chances,” which has been used in abstinence-only courses. In it, a student asks a school nurse, “What if I want to have sex before I get married?” To which the nurse replies, “Well, I guess you’ll just have to be prepared to die.”

This is another one from the archives, and it is the perfect mate to the previous article, What If We Admitted to Children That Sex Is Primarily About Pleasure?

Sex education is an ongoing conversation that we need to keep having in the United States until we get it right. And then we have to keep having it, because as our society’s morality compass changes, we will have to adjust our teachings.