rape culture

Reviewing the Past Year in Rape Culture

Poster for UBC Bar Talks Event discussing rape culture

by Jarrah Hodge

Back on Thursday, January 16 I joined UBC PhD candidate and activist Lucia Lorenzi, and sociology professor Rachel Sullivan for a discussion-oriented panel discussion on campus at UBC. This BARtalk event was hosted by the Terry Project and the UBC Sexual Assault Support Centre as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

The topic was rape culture in the media in 2013. Gord Katic moderated the discussion and we talked about what “rape culture” is, how it affects women, how the media factors in, how it played out particularly at UBC last year with the frosh week chants, and things we can all do to help end rape culture.

One action I particularly emphasized and want to mention again is the opportunity we have to read and provide feedback on Femifesto’s toolkit for Canadian media, which the Toronto-based feminist collective prepared to help improve Canadian media reporting on sexual assault. Anyone can read the first version and submit feedback by the end of August.

The audio of the evening is below, along with introduction and help explaining the A/V elements that were shown.

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

FFFF: It’s Your Fault!

Funny Feminist Friday Film square logo

Bollywood actor Kalki Koechlin and video jockey/model Juhi Pande star in this movie by Indian comedy collective All-India Backchod (backtalk), using satire to critique victim-blaming, rape culture and the suggestions and comments made to women in the wake of the Delhi gang rape trial. The YouTube page states:

Every sexual assault case in India inspires a string of stupid and hateful remarks against women. This is our response to those remarks.

Trigger Warning: discussion of and depictions of violence against women and sexual assault.

Transcript (after the jump):

Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in FFFF Leave a comment

My Reality: My Rapist Was a Feminist

by Lola Davidson

Trigger Warning: Rape, Mental Abuse

When I first met my rapist, I was 18 years old, I was independent, I believed in equality, I hated the idea of men paying for my dates with them, yet I didn’t consider myself a feminist at the time. I had never been taught about feminism in school or growing up. I knew very little about feminism except that a girl in my school who constantly harassed and physically assaulted me was a feminist, so when I met the man who would come to be my rapist and he asked me whether I was a feminist, I said: “Oh, God no, I am so not a feminist.”

“Why not? Feminism is amazing, it helps so many people,” he responded. I felt embarrassed then, and later on I did my research on the topic, took classes on Women’s Studies and realized that feminism was in fact amazing. Feminism helped me deal with my eating disorders, with past abuse. It helped me understand life so much better. I felt so much admiration for this man because in a world full of misogyny, here was a man who actually took the time to be on our side. What an amazing guy, I thought.

He was constantly praised for being a feminist, especially by me. He started grooming me to act a certain way so that his sexist remarks would fly under the radar. He acted from an unconscious belief that feminism wasn’t supposed to protect all women, just the ones that he felt were worthy of it, and I did not fit into that group.

I always felt the need to laugh off any microagressions he made towards me because if I didn’t, he would point out how flawed I was for getting my feelings hurt. He would praise women who were successful and belittle women who had any chink in their armor.

He was a feminist but girls who went after modelling were stupid, he was a feminist but when I wore a dress and stockings I was asking for it. He was a feminist but my bisexuality meant I owed him a threesome with another girl. He was a feminist but when he was aroused and I was asleep my consent was unnecessary. He was a feminist but calling me a dumb slut and penetrating me while I shook and cried was “not a big deal”. He was a feminist but he mentally abused me for two years because of my gender and how inferior he believed it was to his.

My rapist doesn’t know he raped me because he thinks the label “feminist” protects him from being a bad person – Hell, if someone told him what he did to me was rape, he wouldn’t believe them because I did not physically push him away. To him, my fear was a flaw in my character, not his. However, it doesn’t matter what he believes because your labels do not excuse you from being a monster.

Posted on by Lola Davidson in Feminism, My Reality 1 Comment

Global Lessons from the UN Study on Violence Against Women in Asia

Cover of UN Report "Why do some men use violence against women and how can we prevent it?"by Jarrah Hodge

A new study on violence against women in Southeast Asian countries, by UN Joint Programme Partners for Prevention, is making headlines around the world.

Although the study also has interesting findings on non-sexual, physical violence against women, the findings that seem to have shocked most people were the high numbers of men admitting to rape.

Just under a quarter of men interviewed in the study countries (Cambodia, Papua New Guinea, China, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Sri Lanka) admitted to raping a woman or girl. It’s important to note the percentage varied widely between countries, from a low but still troubling 11% in Bangladesh to over 60% in Papua New Guinea. More than half the men said they committed their first assault between the ages of 15 and 19 and nearly half had raped repeatedly.

It’s safe to assume one of the reasons men were so open to admitting assault was that the questions never used the word “rape”. Instead, researchers asked if men had ever: “forced a woman who was not your wife or girlfriend at the time to have sex,” or “had sex with a woman who was too drunk or drugged to indicate whether she wanted it.”

About 10 per cent said they have had “non-consensual sex” with a woman who was not their partner, but another 14 per cent admitted it when partners were included in the question.

Less than one quarter served jail time.

So here’s how not to respond to this, white Westerners (with examples from news site comments):

-      ” the study was only done in some of the most backward places on Earth. So it says absolutely nothing about the male of the species.”

-       “and yet we keep letting them come to America on H1B work visas, where the later prey on children.”

-      “Typical Asians, bout time the media reports on these deviants.”

-      ” Dont compare the West to Asia. Ever wondered why all the Asians (Chinese, Indians, Arabs, Pakkis, Koreans etc) are trying to immigrate desperately to the West & not vice-versa ?”

First of all, you can’t make those kind of blanket statements about the region from this (and not just because it’s super racist). The study doesn’t cover all of Southeast Asia, stats varied between countries, and only in Cambodia does the report claim there was balanced geographic representation in the sample.

Second, though there are different issues between and within various countries, there are some common themes that we see happening here. And that means we can’t get on our high, white horse. Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Feminism Leave a comment

Rape Chants at UBC

Photo of clock tower and Irving K. Barber Learning Centre at UBCby Lucia Lorenzi. This article was originally posted at the author’s blog, The Body Politic. Cross-posted with permission.

Just two days ago, I published an article  (which was also republished on Rabble.ca) detailing my concerns about having heard misogynist lyrics being played loudly on campus during frosh week at UBC. The song, which was played at a booth run by an off-campus nightclub, right near the Student Union Building, described—repetitively—being here “for the bitches and the drinks.” I expressed my frustration at having to be exposed to such misogyny in this environment, especially when we know that sexual assaults (especially those facilitated by drugs and alcohol) and sexual harassment run rampant on so many post-secondary campuses.

Shortly after I posted my article on my blog, national news services began sharing coverage of an egregious frosh-week incident at Saint Mary’s University, which involved 80 student orientation volunteers leading a chant that promoted underage sex and rape. Every major newspaper and television station in Canada has carried the story, featuring interviews with SMU students, SMU frosh leaders, the SMU president, women’s centre and sexual assault centre staff, and concerned community members. While there have been a predictable number of individuals who have dismissed the incident as a mere moment of “juvenile ignorance,” or, as former SMU student union president Jared Perry put it, something that just happened “in the heat of the moment,” many have been quick to condemn the behaviour. SMU president Colin Dodds, in an interview with CTV Atlantic, expressed his shock at the situation, even apologizing to the family of Rehtaeh Parsons (the Halifax teenager who took her own life after being sexually assaulted and viciously taunted) for the likely impact it would have on them.

Despite my anger at the situation in Halifax, I also felt somewhat relieved. While my article about hearing misogynist music was referenced in a GlobalBC article about SMU and rape culture on campuses, what happened at SMU wasn’t happening on my campus. I mean, if the worst thing that happened at my campus at frosh week was an off-campus nightclub blasting a song about “bitches and drinks”, rather than student representatives of a university actively cheering about underage sex and sexual assault, then it couldn’t possibly get worse, right? Right?

Wrong.

Late this evening (September 6), my university’s student newspaper, The Ubyssey, published an article revealing that the exact same thing had happened during Sauder FROSH, the “long-running three-day orientation organized by the Commerce Undergraduate Society (CUS)” (Rosenfeld, Ubyssey). Not only was I appalled to know that the same chant apparently had a long history of being used at frosh events here at UBC, but even more appalled to hear the reactions of the FROSH co-chair and other students. Co-chair Jacqueline Chen reported to The Ubyssey that previous complaints had been articulated about the chant, but that its use during frosh week had not been prohibited. Rather, Chen says, “We let the groups know: if it happens during the group, it has to stay in the group” (Rosenfeld). Read more

Posted on by Lucia Lorenzi in Can-Con, Feminism 4 Comments

Open Letter to Paula Simons and Editors of the Edmonton Journal

protestThis was originally posted at the Edmonton SlutWalk blog. Cross-posted with permission.

The organizers of this year’s Edmonton Slut Walk we were initially delighted to hear you would be covering the emergence of posters which mock a well-established and successful anti-rape campaign. Upon reading your article, those feelings quickly changed to horror that an ally would use their large platform to spread misinformation about rape and false rape allegations.

Though your piece did appear in the “opinion” column, that isn’t license to spread an opinion that makes the world safer for rapists and harder for victims, and inevitably that is what you do when you focus on the behavior of the victim versus the intent of the rapist.

In a piece by the CBC, who showed demonstrably more responsibly in reporting on the posters, acting Insp. Sean Armstrong from the serious crimes branch of Edmonton Police said that false allegations are “extremely rare”. Armstrong goes on to say “I was sexual assault detective for 4½ years and in that time I only dealt with one, and I dealt with numerous files. Many, many, many files,”. Additionally, police fear the posters will deter victims from speaking out. “We want to encourage people to come forward and report these horrendous crimes,” Armstrong said.

“Let’s be clear.” You, Ms. Simons, write, “any man who’d have intercourse with someone passed out cold or too drunk to stand or speak is both a criminal and a loser” well, Ms. Simons he is also a rapist, and we believe in calling a lemon a lemon. The number of women from all walks of life who have been raped and have spoken to the organizers of Slut Walk individually is a high enough number to make your skin crawl and those are only the ones willing to speak about their trauma. We don’t dance around this issue anymore.

jusbecauseposter_21False rape accusations are terrible and they are destructive to people’s lives, it would be ignorant to pretend otherwise, and you do highlight some of the problems that occur in these cases including sexual agency. Yet, what your letter and the entire mocking ‘don’t be that girl’ campaign miss is that one of the largest obstacles to justice and healing for sexual assault victims is excessive disbelief. This skepticism of sexual assault survivor’s regularly sees victims lambasted online and in their communities. In the real world, rape very often happens without witnesses, or physical evidence of non-consent. Many rapes go unpunished. Statistics that float around on the internet claiming 41% of rape charges are false are based on bad data that was unable to be verified by any secondary sources. Quite likely the reason you made no citation about the prevalence of false rape statistics is because they are difficult to pin down. Researchers are often counting different things. In Canada the data illustrates between 2-5%. Instances of false reports of auto theft are higher. Read more

Posted on by YEG Slutwalk in Can-Con, Feminism 1 Comment

Why I’m Supporting the #FBrape Campaign

Facebook users are asking advertisers whether they really want their logos to be seen alongside jokes and threats about beating and raping women

Facebook users are asking advertisers whether they really want their logos to be seen alongside jokes and threats about beating and raping women

by Jarrah Hodge

Trigger-Warning for rape jokes, rape threats, misogyny

Over the past week there’s been a lot of buzz around the campaign launched by WAM! (Women, Action, & the Media) to call on prominent companies like Dove and Audible.com to pull ads from Facebook until the social networking site implements new policies and enforcement to ban gender-based hate speech. If you weren’t aware just how big the problem is, WAM! has cataloged some examples of what kind of content Facebook lets slide (serious trigger-warning for this link). When I posted the link to examples on Facebook most people commented that they were shocked and couldn’t even make it through reading all the horrible examples. The sad thing is that they were not hard to find.

But there is hope, and if we keep pushing, together we can show we are stronger than Facebook. In the first three days of the campaign over 22,000 tweets (using the #FBrape hashtag) and almost 2000 emails were sent to advertisers and the message is getting through. I’m feeling so motivated and inspired by this campaign and have been tweeting up a storm myself because I am so tired of having to try and keep reporting these types of posts individually, with often limited success. They offend me deeply but they also frighten me. The fact that anyone thought it was okay to create a Facebook page called “This is Why Indian Girls are Raped” or joke about “roundhouse kick[ing]” and “chokeslamm[ing]” a little girl is just horrifying. The fact that Facebook leaps all over requests to ban pictures of breastfeeding mothers but somehow thinks rape jokes don’t violate their community standards is appalling.

For me, though, this campaign is also personal.

Earlier this year someone on Twitter alerted me to the fact that a practically-professional Facebook troll was using my headshot as the profile picture for a really stupid and unsophisticated attempt at satire: a page supposedly created by a “Christian grad student” (represented by my picture) warning people against marijuana. The page owner, who had at least 10 accounts I could find under different fake names, had made my picture a target by posting incendiary information and graphics on the page.

When I found my picture on that page, there were more than 100 vicious, misogynistic comments on it. Here is just a small selection of the gems: Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Feminism, Pop Culture 5 Comments