date rape

Letter to the Province on Unhelpful Sex Offender Warnings

by Victoria Redlon

Dear Editor of the Province newspaper,

Every few months your newspaper publishes an RCMP warning regarding the release of a sex offender into our communities (An example can be read here). I am writing to explain how these stories fail to create awareness about the reality of sexual violence towards women and to offer suggestions. This kind of coverage contributes to the disassociation of rape culture for the following three reasons:

1) The RCMP reports are not informative enough about the threat these men pose.  The release areas are so vague that they aid in creating a heightened sense of threat with no sense of location. The nature of their crimes remain a mystery; if they target – say-petite Asian women in their early twenties, or what area and atmosphere they typically troll (such as a local pub, park, etc.). This information along with their method of luring women would make a far better warning to women than a small, softly-worded warning issued by the RCMP. Help women stay safe by informing them of the latest approaches of sexual predators, the exact locations, and who is most likely going to be targeted.

2) Stranger Danger. The focus that this kind of report places on fearing a stranger distracts from the reality of rape. A woman is sexually assaulted every 17 minutes in Canada, of these attacks 80 percent occur in the woman’s home, of this percent 70 percent are committed by a man who is not a stranger. In fact approximately half of all rapes occur on dates. Thus, warning women about a stranger who is being released somewhere for some sexual offense, without reporting on the more common situations, creates a distorted image of sexual violence towards women.  I believe it creates the feeling of isolation amongst women who have fallen victim to non-stranger attacks. The majority of women who are attached then feel alone because they were attacked on a date, or by their local grocery store clerk, or by their father’s friend. The reality of rape is that it happens right in our homes by the men we trust.  This issue seems to elude mass media coverage and public knowledge. Read more

Posted on by Victoria Redlon in Can-Con, Feminism 1 Comment

Franchesca Ramsey on How Slut Shaming Becomes Victim Blaming

Franchesca Ramsey shares her experience with date rape to talk about how slut shaming turns into victim blaming. It’s pretty powerful and comes with a trigger warning and a NSFW language warning. If you’d like a transcript you can find it at Racialicious.

-Jarrah

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Feminism Leave a comment

YWCA Launches Safety Siren for Blackberry

Good news for those of us feminists who haven’t made the switch to iPhones – YWCA Canada has now launched its Safety Siren app for Blackberry (I understand plans for an Android app are also in the works). You can download the app for free here at the Blackberry app store.

When YWCA Canada launched its iPhone Safety Siren just over a year ago, I hadn’t got an iPhone yet (I now have one for work but use a Blackberry for my personal phone), so this was the first chance I had to really try it.

If you’re not familiar with the idea behind the app, Safety Siren is an app targeted at young women in particular, that “turns your phone into a multi-functional safety device”. The most prominent function is the siren itself. You can set it to be easy or difficult to trigger, and when you set it off it makes a loud alarm sound to alert people in the vicinity to the fact you may be in danger. You can also program it to immediately BBM a particular contact or call someone. It’s basically a technologically advanced improvement on the idea of a rape whistle.

But that’s not all it’s about. YWCA Canada Communications Director Corinne Rusch-Drutz says, “What I love best about the Safety Siren for BlackBerry smartphones is that it focuses on making preventative choices about safety before heading out.” In addition to the siren, the app gives accessible answers on FAQs on dating safety, sexual health, and other wellness issues. And one of the things I think I’d find most useful is the app’s ability to use your geo-location to find nearby emergency hotlines, crisis centres, health clinics, YWCAs, and other resources.

I found the app to be unintimidating in its presentation of content, as well as just being very navigable and easy to use. But I was curious about whether the YWCA had any analysis of how the iPhone app has been used.  Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, Feminism Leave a comment

Dating Safety: There Really Is An App For That

First formed in 1870 and part of the World Young Women’s Christian Association, the Canadian YWCA’s mission statement is to advance gender equity through research, advocacy and sustainable member associations. They focus on ending violence against women and girls, securing universal childcare, and achieving economic security for women.

The YWCA is a goldmine of resources for  women; they offer transitional housing, childcare, shelters for women and children escaping domestic violence, fitness programs and health programs. They partner with outside associations to assist women in securing employment and offer over 90 different programs for young girls. The YWCA also runs the Youth Eco Internship program, placing unemployed youth from diverse backgrounds into paid internship positions within non-profit organizations that focus on environment, community and women’s services.

One of the organization’s key focuses is on safety for women, and with their progressive vision, they created an Iphone app to specifically address women’s physical safety. Funded by the Government of Canada’s Social Development Partnerships Program and created for the Power of Being a Girl anti-violence initiative, the YWCA offers a free app for your phone available for download from iTunes.

The YWCA Safety Siren is an app that, with the touch of a button, silently sends ends emergency email to pre-set contacts with your GPS coordinates and also places an emergency outgoing call to a pre-programmed number. Functioning in both French and English, the Safety Siren includes a library of women’s health resources, lists of ‘red flag’ warnings that might indicate whether the person you are dating is abusive, information on stalking, and some disturbing dating facts, such as: “Over 50% of Canadian women experience an incident of violence at some time in their lives, most before they turn 25.” The app also includes links to 250 resource and crisis centres, YWCA’s across the country, emergency hotlines, and sexual health clinics.

While it’s unfortunate that there is a need for an app like the Safety Siren, it’s a convenient, preventative tool for all women.

-Roxanna

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, Feminism 8 Comments

Edmonton Ad Campaign Targets Rape Myths

I love this new campaign from SAVE (Sexual Assault Voices of Edmonton) working with the Edmonton Police, to target drug and alcohol-facilitated sexual assaults, which were recently reported to be on the rise in Edmonton. The “Don’t Be That Guy” campaign is targeted to males age 18-24 and uses direct statements to get the message across that date rape is not okay – that it’s a crime and will be treated as such by police.

The ads are jarring and a bit disturbing, like the one featuring a woman passed out on a couch surrounded by liquor bottles and the tagline: “Just because she isn’t saying no…Doesn’t mean she’s saying yes.” But I’d argue there’s no other effective way to get the message across. The statistics on these types of sexual assault are alarming and we still hear the same disgusting exuses. Too often date and acquaintance rapes are treated as less serious offenses than stranger rapes. Too often women are blamed for “asking for it” and this campaign puts the onus for date rape back where it belongs: on perpetrators.

-Jarrah 

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Feminism, Pop Culture 2 Comments

Pitt Meadows Rape Prompts Victim-Blaming

Last week’s alleged rape of a 16-year-old girl at a rave in Pitt Meadows and the subsequent posting of the photos on Facebook is absolutely sickening.  Police say the girl was allegedly drugged and raped, potnetially by multiple attackers, sustaining significant injuries. They said being drugged means there was no way she could’ve consented.

The first question that leaps to mind is how so many young people could be seemingly okay with re-victimizing the girl by spreading the pictures around the internet. It challenges your faith in humanity when a group of people does something so fundamentally wrong.

But even though the primary reaction to the spread of the photos has been shock and outrage, there are still those who’d like to use the event to blame rape victims and conscribe women’s behaviour.

On the amateur side, some local girls started the group Reasonable Doubt in Pitt Meadows, which at last check has just over 100 members.

The group says it’s about “Advocat[ing] for the process and for critical thinking and for truth and justice”, saying the case has been sensationalized and the accused men not treated fairly. To be fair, they do seem to agree that sharing the photos is wrong, but instead of critical thinking what you’ll find instead is a group officer suggesting both the guy and girl should be charged in order to ensure the law is applied equally, and another administrator who just does a whole lot of random victim blaming (the “…”s are hers):

she was with him after this allged rape… and completly fine partying im sorry but if i was raped i dont think i would be hanging out with the guy after…. totally sobers you up… if it was something horendes like that and a lie detector test would prove what actually happened in a she said he said situation…. im not saying it wasnt wrong to be getting with a girl that was drunk or high on something but he was drunk to where are his rights huh … she was the one that took him to the field….

and if your drunk too its still rape… even if she says its not rape and it was consentual… figure that one out guys have the short end of the stick… the only way to know what the truth is is to do lie detector tests on both of them

Note: when I’m looking for legal experts, I’m probably going to be looking for people who can punctuate a sentence and spell “consensual” and “alleged” correctly.

Then there was Jon Ferry’s column in the Province, which while it strongly indicted the attackers and those who distributed the photos and did not directly suggest the victim was complicit, nevertheless used the whole situation to lament what he sees the declining morals in our society due to the demise of organized religion.

Ferry writes, “Teen girls should be better educated about the perils of excessive partying. If they’re going to a rave, they should take steps to ensure their own safety, perhaps by bringing along reliable male protection. In more chivalrous days, brothers used to perform that function.” A Criminology professor interviewed on BC Almanac last Thursday similarly suggested the best step to take would be to ensure more adult chaperones at such parties.

The problem is rape is about power. It’s only reinforced by the idea that women are essentially men’s property. Saying that women need men around for protection only serves to further those attitudes and to imply that women who want to go out drinking are just asking to be assaulted. There’s practically no onus placed on parents to teach their sons to respect women and their bodies, or on men to change their attitudes towards women. The prevailing belief seems to be that boys will be boys.

Luckily there are those who are standing up and saying that nothing makes drugging and gang rape okay, including a Facebook group created to give people a place to express support for the 16-year-old girl in Pitt Meadows. It’s not about prematurely convicting anyone, but about saying that no one asks to be drugged and raped. The group has signed up almost 10,000 members in just a few days, which should at least go a little way to restoring one’s faith in humanity.

-Jarrah

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, Feminism 6 Comments

My Stuff Elsewhere: On Date Rape and America's Manliest Cities

I’ve got two new posts elsewhere this week. Here’s the scoop:

Charlotte, NC: "America's Manliest City"

My latest Gender Files column at the Vancouver Observer looks at the new date rape drug test kit “The Drink Detective” and the debate about whether it’ll actually protect women or just serve to perpetuate a culture of victim-blaming.

I’ve also got a new post up at About-Face called “Charlotte, NC: Home of manly men who eat bacon cupcakes”, where I dissect the COMBOs “America’s Manliest City” competition and question who in their right mind would eat bacon cupcakes (already debating that in the comments section, so check it out and leave your thoughts!).

Enjoy and feel free to let me know what you think!

-Jarrah

 
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