Rape tolerance and actual facts.

Trigger warning: Please take care of yourself and be aware of your own limitations whenever you read anything about rape.

I had a bit of a thing the other night when I discovered this article: “Rape flier causes outrage; Arizona sex assault victim speaks out.”

The flier, posted in a men’s bathroom at Ohio’s Miami University, read in part: “Top Ten Ways to Get Away with Rape: 1) Put drugs in the woman’s drink, therefore she wont remember you… 6) Sex with an unconscious body does count, so don’t back down if shes sleeping; 7) Practice makes perfect, the more you rape, the better you get at it….”

Seeing this in the very week in which we have been assailed (yet again) with a new rash of rape apologism was just too much. My blood started to pound, I was suddenly crying, and I was filled with a powerful sense of emotional nausea (if that makes sense), reactions that are all overcoming me again, even as I type.

Women live with this every day of our lives, it’s in our leader’s mouths, it’s in the jokes we hear, it’s in the very air we breathe — and then we’re told that rape is our fault. To put an aspirin between our knees. To prove that we didn’t like the rape. To bear the rapist’s child. And to drown in shame.

I’ve been feeling all day that I really should write about it all, but I just can’t. I’m too exhausted by it, too worn down, too emotionally nauseated. But luckily, someone with a slightly bigger soapbox has written a piece filled with both righteous fury, and reams and reams of data. I’m cutting and pasting some of it below, but really, please: Click through and read the whole thing: “50 Actual Facts About Rape,” by Soraya Chemaly.

And men of good will? Please, please share this with your friends, your brothers, your uncles, your father. Please.

Remember facts? Remember facts about rape? Because it turns out that a whole lot of people know less than nothing about the subject. Indeed what they think they know is a whole lot of something that is wrong and dangerous to our heath, safety and well-being.

… For months now we’ve been subjected to surreal revelation when it comes to what people think and understand about rape, god and women’s magical bodies. Here is some real, fact-checked information from a list originally published last week in RHRealityCheck…..

1. Low estimate of the number of women, according to the Department of Justice, raped every year: 300,000
2. High estimate of the number of women raped, according to the CDC: 1.3 million
3. Percentage of rapes not reported: 54 percent
4. A woman’s chance of being raped in the U.S.: 1 in 5
5. Chances that a raped woman conceives compared to one engaging in consensual sex: at least two times as likely
6. Number of women in the US impregnated against their will each year in the U.S. as a result of rape: 32,000
7. Number of states in which rapists can sue for custody and visitation: 31
8. Chances that a woman’s body “shuts that whole thing down”: 0 in 3.2 billion

Had enough? Me, too. And, believe me, this is the Cliff Notes version. Some people are offended by frank conversation about violence, especially sexualized violence. I’m offended by tolerance for these assaults, scientific denialism, entertainment at the expense of people’s safety and bodily integrity, and shame-infused legislation that hurts children and women and is based on the belief that all men are animals at heart.

Rape happens everywhere . All over the world rape acceptance, rape tolerance, rape denial and rape ignorance at best are used to restrict women’s reproductive rights and impede women’s equality. At worse, rape is used strategically and with violence and malevolence as a weapon in war and as a tool of active oppression. Keeping the reality of rape in the shadows has obviously done us a massive disservice and provided cover for rapists and their apologists. So, even though it’s not easy information to digest, it’s important. Maybe information is part of god’s divine plan.

…Akin, Mourdock, Ryan, et al are the distortions. If men like Mitt Romney really doesn’t agree with them then he should grow some ovaries, so to speak, and stop playing in the same political sand box….  All of this goes hand-in-hand with Facebook rape pages, Daniel Tosh rape jokesReddit rapist threadsmusic, videos, movies, ad infinitum. This recent political display of religiously convoluted rape “reasoning” in legislation is a national shame with deadly consequences for women here and abroad.

To read the rest of “50 Actual Facts About Rape,” please click here.

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An open letter to Conservative men about rape.

I am a Progressive, a Liberal, a Democrat, a left-winger, an Obot — whatever you want to call me, go ahead. I’ll own it. Hell, I’m a borderline socialist.

And in the course of my gig as an opinion writer and left-wing activist, I write a lot about “the GOP,” often in a fairly condemnatory tone.

And even so, I try to make a very careful practice not to write about “Republicans,” because what I take issue with is the party itself, its current leadership, and its official platform/policies.

I am very, very much aware that there are a lot of folks out there who identify as Conservatives or Republicans with whom I probably am in agreement on many issues, and from whom I could probably learn a thing or two. There are a lot of arguments that we could have, too, but that’s the way it goes in a democracy. We’ll part ways at the ballot box, and that might create some hard feelings.

But at the end of the day, there are some things that are not (should not be) partisan. Some things are right, or wrong, and we should be willing to cross the aisle to say so. Taking sexual assault seriously, treating it as the horror and the scourge that it is, is one of them.

Rapists don’t care what your politics are. They don’t care what your education is, how much money you make, or what your stance is on the Bush tax breaks. Rapists are criminals who cause grievous bodily harm, and far too often mental and emotional anguish. More often than not, they know their victims, and far more often than we’re willing to admit, are in fact in an intimate or familial relationship with their victims.

If you are a living, breathing adult, you know people who have been sexually assaulted. Maybe some have never told you, maybe a few have, but no matter the extent of your personal knowledge of the individual facts, the singular fact remains that someone — female or male — is sexually assaulted in the United States every two minutes. And you know some of them.

When representatives of the party we vote for say and do things that are wrong — say and do things that hurt people who have already been hurt or are already vulnerable — it is our responsibility to stand up and say “That’s wrong.” I have done this before, and I will do so again — the Democratic Party is not a collection of angels, after all. It is a collection of human beings, some of whom are exceptionally ill-informed or insensitive, and if I want the party to truly represent me and my values, I need to make my voice heard.

I doubt I’m going to reach many Conservative men with this open letter — this blog is tiny, and it’s pretty firmly ensconced on the left hand side of the blogosphere — but if you are a Conservative man, please take to task those in your party who have recently made exceptionally ill-informed and insensitive comments about women and rape.

There is no room for parsing what is and is not “legitimate” or “forcible” rape, and there is no room for mealy-mouthed apologies that try to escape responsibility for using those phrases in the first place. There is no room for likening rape to other “methods of conception.” There is no room for comparing a pregnancy resulting from rape to a pregnancy resulting from consensual sex in an unmarried relationship.

Please talk to your daughters, your sisters, your wives, your mothers. Find out what has happened to them in the course of their lives, and the lives of the women they know. Read the stories told here, sit with this information — with the knowledge that the fact of rape and the threat of it serve to shape and guide the lives of 50% of the human population — and then, please: Say something.

Say something to your party. Say something to your friends. Say something on Twitter, on Facebook, on your blogs, in your articles. Please.

Think about the women you love, and say something.

My President is a feminist, part the several.

In case you were wondering:

President Obama strongly condemned Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) during a surprise press conference Monday for his remarks that “legitimate rape” doesn’t cause pregnancy. Obama said Akin’s statement was reflective of the broader Republican Party’s treatment of women.

“Let me first say the views expressed were offensive,” Obama said. “Rape is rape, and the idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we’re talking about doesn’t make sense to the American people and certainly doesn’t make sense to me.”

…Obama, while acknowledging criticism of Akin from within the Republican Party, said that his remarks were indicative of the GOP’s anti-abortion record. He pointedly referenced a House Republican bill co-sponsored by Akin and Rep. Paul Ryan that distinguished “forcible rape” in banning funding for abortion, language that was subsequently withdrawn after an outcry from women’s advocacy groups.

“What I think these comments do underscore is why we shouldn’t have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making health care decisions on behalf of women,” Obama said. “So although these particular comments have led Gov. Romney and other Republicans to distance themselves, I think that the underlying notion that we should be making decisions on behalf of women … or qualifying forcible rape versus non-forcible rape are broader issues.”

FYI, and so on.

Via TPM and @MichelleObama.

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