13-Year-Old Accused of Egging on Her Abuser

This past week Rape Crisis England and Wales reported on the treatment of a 13-year old rape victim who was severely victim blamed in court. The 13-year old was described, by the sentencing judge, as “predatory” and was believed to have been “egging her abuser on.” The rapist, despite pleading guilty to one account of sexual activity with a child and two accounts of producing extreme pornographic imagery, was given a eight month suspended sentence and avoided prison.

Apparently the sentencing judge claimed that despite the fact that the child was “egging on her abuser” (stating that this argument was a “fact” when describing her “predatory behavior”) is no defense in the case of a child. Still, the sentencing judge, in a case where the accused pleaded guilty, felt the need to provide some victim blaming while accusing a child of sexualized and predatory behavior.

According to Court News UK the judge also stated that: “You have come as close to prison as is imaginable. I have taken in to account that even though the girl was 13, the prosecution say she looked and behaved a little bit older”.

This might have been the most disgusting comments I have heard in regards to victim blaming and rape culture. Here a child has been abused and the abuser is receiving a lowered sentence, avoiding prison, despite the serious accounts of sexual assault and despite pleading guilty. What we often hear in regards to cases of sexual assault and rape is that it is extremely difficult to prove that rape was in fact rape. The victims also have to defend themselves while their sexual history and past sexual activity is used against them. But, it seems that a guilty plead by the accused is not enough to stop victim blaming and the sexualization of women and girls (often by stating that she really wanted it, was just playing hard to get, or was egging on the abuser). There appears to be no situation in which women/girls are wholeheartedly believed and trusted and are not further victimized by victim blaming attitudes.

Russia’s Anti-Gay Laws Apparently Misinterpreted

LGBTQ balloonsLately, a lot of media attention has surrounded the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sotji, Russia, where concerns have been raised over the new anti-gay laws recently passed by President Vladimir Putin. These laws make it illegal to distribute gay/bisexual propaganda and information to minors, making the “crime” punishable with a jail sentence.

Apparently, Putin’s laws are being backed by Alexey Sorokin, who is in charge of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, also taking place in Russia. Sorokin meant that the laws are being misinterpreted and that they are intended to protect minors against gay/bisexual propaganda (whatever that is) and thus are not meant to discriminate against gay people and are not therefore really against homosexuality. But, the laws are going to be implemented simply if a person carries the LGBTQ flag or displays a non-traditional relationship with a same-sex person which then means that they will discriminate against gay people since they will not have the same rights as their straight peers do. This is called discrimination. Sorokin, however, defended the new laws by stating that people do not want a World Cup where people run around naked (like gay people usually do?) and market their homosexuality.

How can someone be against the displays of homosexuality but not homosexuality? The very act of being gay or straight (or other identities/preferences) means that you are displaying an identity and often a sexual preference. The laws basically mean that you can be gay if you never “live it”. You cannot be gay outdoors or wear the flag, especially so not around minors, which are basically everywhere. The laws mean that you can basically never have a social life together with a partner and that you can only hold hands or share intimacy at home. If there is not a minor around that is. If there is a minor around, the laws suddenly make it illegal to be gay in your own house around minors, like your  children, since the very act of kissing or holding hands would be enough to prove that you are not in a traditional relationship (I am guessing that a traditional relationship means marriage between a woman and man). How absolutely ridicilous. As if the laws are not bad enough, the pathetic attempts to defend them by stating that discriminatory laws are not intended to discriminate is laughable.

5 Tips On How To Avoid Rape

rape posterWhen I saw a poster outside my apartment complex with big letters saying “5 tips on how to avoid rape,” I thought that this would be further the ideas of victim blaming. Instead, this poster was aimed at men. I truly appreciate this since that removes much of the victim blaming from sexual assaults and rape. Despite the good intentions of the poster and whoever put it up, I still have a few concerns with the information presented and the tips provided. Here is what the poster said (my translation):

Respect a no
Respecting when someone says no is key. It should also be said more often that when a person is unable to give consent, it means no. A person that is intoxicated, sleeping or in any other way cannot communicate a yes, cannot give consent and therefore any sexual act towards this person is sexual assault.

You have a choice
I appreciate the idea, I just think that the phrasing is off. I would have appreciated if the poster said: this choice is only yours or it is only your responsibility. The act of raping someone and the choice involved in that act should not even have to be discussed. Unfortunately, it does. As we have previously experiencened in some of the comments of a post about rape and evolutionary psychology, it is sometimes presented, and believed, that rape is a natural act committed by men against women in order to ensure reproductive success. [Read more...]

Update: Victim of “Infidelity Check” Receives Justice

Earlier this year we reported on a story in which a man’s sexual assault of his girlfriend, in order to check for evidence of her being unfaithful, was not deemed a rape act and was instead treated as a violent act that lacked sexual intent. Initially, the man was sentenced to 32 months in prison for rape and abuse. After an appeal, The Svea Court of Appeal, however, dismissed the sexual assault claim and lowered the sentence to 14 months in prison in which the man was only found guilty for acts of violence without sexual characteristics.

The Local reported on once again a change in sentencing as the case went to Sweden’s Supreme Court which ruled that the act was indeed rape and stated that:

“If a man forces a woman to tolerate him putting his fingers in her genitals, then the incident has a tangible sexual character that is capable of violating her sexual integrity. It is therefore a question of a punishable sexual act”.

The man was again sentenced to 32 months in prison and have to pay damages of 116,000 kronor ($17,700) to the woman.

Women, You Are Your Looks

Right now the Euro 2013 Games are underway, and women’s soccer is receiving loads of attention. The Swedish soccer team has already played a few games, and a sexist backlash of homophobic comments immediately followed the first match, where Sweden and Denmark tied.

According to The Local, post-match comments on Twitter focused not on the Swedish players’ competence, but rather on their attractiveness. Some comments included, “Women’s football is small breasts, lesbians and short hair” and “Swedish women’s football… lesbian whores is what you are.” Swedish handball coach Andreas Stockenberg also weighed in, writing that “When the Swedish squad in women’s football has dinner with their partners there are 40 women and 4 guys” and that “they can hardly trap a sandbag.” Stockenberg defended his comments by saying that the team received “far too much undeserved media attention.” [Read more...]

Sterilized Swedish Trans People Will Not Receive A Government Apology

We’ve previously discussed how trans people in Sweden were forced to undergo sterilization procedures before being allowed to transition, as well as a new law in which this discriminatory regulation was removed. In June, the  Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL) and many of the trans women and men who were sterilized sued the government for compensation.

The Local recently published an article about the controversy.  The trans community has asked the Swedish prime minister to apologize on behalf of all the women and men who were sterilized; according to Aleksa Lundberg, an actress and trans woman, the prime minister’s response has been that “the government can’t apologize every time a group wants an apology.” It is terrible that the prime minister will not apologize to the men and women who were treated so poorly  and robbed of a future involving biological children. He is not acknowledging the treatment these women and men faced, and is not treating their suffering as anything significant. [Read more...]

Are All Baby Pics on Facebook Appropriate?

When browsing Facebook and looking at friendss updates there is one thing that keeps creeping me out and that is the photos some people post of their children. As summer is here, many people post very cute photos of their children playing in the pool or taking a bath. I cannot keep from reacting every time I see photos of naked kids displayed online. I do not view children as sexual beings, but let us face the facts; there are certainly some people out there who do. I would be very cautious of the fact that the photos I post online are not in fact all that private and can be viewed by many more than just the people I have selected as my Facebook friends.

For example, if I post a photo and one of my friends comments on it, all their friends can possibly see the photo and the number of people who the photo becomes available to increases dramatically. Photos can also easily be copied and saved by any person who can view it.

Obviously parents just want to share the wonderful moments they have with their children with friends and family but I believe that parents have a responsibility to their children and to the safety of their children. Children themselves certainly cannot consent to these pictures but parents should be more careful of what they post. I have seen plenty of photos that are in fact very cute and harmless but that I still react to and deem unsuitable for Facebook. Again, not because they show naked children but because some people enjoy looking at photos of naked children.

I have not heard, but I certainly can be wrong, discussions about what is suitable in regards to posting photos of one’s children on Facebook. Facebook do have a clause stating something like the fact that explicit nudity is not welcome on Facebook and I think that this should extend to photos of children. It is of course the parent’s rights and responsibilities to chose what they post online but I also believe that there is great naivety about what can and cannot be seen and the privacy of one’s photos and one’s profile. What do you think?

Women As Out Of Control Breeders

A recent article in the Sacramento Bee discussed the forced sterilization of female inmates in a California prison after the Center for Investigative Reporting found that at least 148 women received tubal litigations which violated prison rules.

Females thought likely to return to prison were the targets of coercion, according to former inmates. Also, when discussing the payment he received for performing the tubal ligation, the institution’s OB-GYN, Dr. James Heinrich stated that: “Over a 10-year period, that isn’t a huge amount of money compared to what you save in welfare paying for these unwanted children – as they procreated more.”

I have heard plenty of comments accusing women of breeding wildly and irresponsibly. Statements such as the one by Heinrich confirms such believes and in many cases, for example when discussing abortion and reproductive choices and rights, women are accused of becoming pregnant and by extension are expected to carry the responsibility of pregnancy all on their own while the men involved, and the responsibilities they carry, are not even mentioned. It is so rarely discussed that the father of a child is just as responsible as the mother of a child. It should not have to be mentioned, but unfortunately it does. [Read more...]

Bernadette Barton Talks About “Pray the Gay Away”

Feminist Conversations is a regular feature here at Feminists For Choice. Today we have the pleasure of talking to Bernadette Barton, author of Stripped: Inside the Lives of Exotic Dancers (2006) and Pray the Gay Away: The Extraordinary Lives of Bible Belt Gays (2012). Today we are focusing on Pray the Gay Away and homosexuality in the Bible Belt area.

1. What inspired you to write Pray the Gay Away?
I write about what I call the “abomination incident” in the introduction to Pray the Gay Away. A neighbor told me being gay was an abomination after I came out to him. Although this kind of testifying is relatively commonplace in the Bible Belt, I had never before encountered a stranger who felt entitled to judge me as sinful, and tell me so, based on my sexual orientation. I grew up in Massachusetts in a politically progressive family and was unaccustomed to this kind of interaction. So, even though I had lived in Kentucky for 11 years by this point, I had not experienced much homophobia. My experience as a graduate student at the University of Kentucky, surrounded largely by lesbians, led me to believe that this sort of homophobia had ended.

I was both surprised and troubled by this encounter – the abomination incident – in 2003. Shortly thereafter began the 2004 presidential election season with an anti-gay marriage amendment on the Kentucky ballot. At this point, the homophobic discourse in the public sphere amped up considerably. Marrying a same-sex partner was compared to marrying a dog, horse, child and cousin. Homosexuality was constructed as polluting and contagious. And yard sign and bumper stickers displayed people’s public attitudes about gay people, many of which were in opposition to gay rights.

It became forcefully clear to me that homophobic attitudes and actions were alive, and integral to many people’s understanding of their social worlds. Since I had found my relatively small encounters with stranger homophobia so disturbing, I began to wonder how such attitudes affected gay people who grew up in the region. I was relatively lucky not to negotiate bigoted beliefs directed against my person-ness until I was in my mid-20s. What would it be like, I imagined, to process this kind of condemnation while one’s identity was still forming? Thus, Pray the Gay Away was conceived, and I formally interviewed 59 people from the Bible Belt and have had informal conversations with over 200 others. [Read more...]

Jane About Thisismyabortion.com

Feminist Conversations is a regular feature here at Feminists For Choice. Today we are talking to Jane, founder of the website thisismyabortion.com. On the site, Jane shares pictures of her abortion and the website has received many comments from women all over the world.

1. How did the project come about?
This project came about after I had an abortion. The day I went in for my procedure, I was bombarded by anti-choice fanatics outside the clinic displaying bloody images of dead babies. It was horrific. I was determined to know what my abortion would look like. I decided to take pictures with my phone of the abortion after the procedure was over. It took some time for me to decide to publish these photos and make a project out of it.

2.What was your main goal when deciding to show pictures of your abortion? Was it mostly personal or also political?
The main goal for me was educational. I felt vastly manipulated by the anti-choice protesters outside that clinic that day. They took advantage of my fragile state in an unscrupulous calculated manner. It was, and is, blatant propaganda to fulfill an anti-choice agenda. [Read more...]