Domestic Violence Permission Slips

refuge 1 in four domestic violenceWe, as a society, give many permission slips to abusers, excusing their abuse, violence & control with claims of “understandable stressors.” Perhaps no category of these permission slips is larger, more pervasive, than the economical permission slips.

Since society is made up of individuals, this is not surprising to me; I’ve seen the permission slips handed out personally — and in my own life.

When my ex husband, who was convicted of battery, first began his regime of oppression, I talked to others, including my parents, siblings, and friends.

When I complained that he was unrealistic in his expectations (a perfectly clean home with kids, the mandatory shutting of window blinds a specific time every evening, my accounting for every purchase down to each nickel, etc.), I was told to give him a break, “He’s got a new family,” “There’s a new mortgage,” “The economy’s bad in his industry,” etc.

When I expressed fear over his irrational anger (swearing, stomping, yelling, threatening to kill the cat), I was told the same things… And I could do a lot to help his disposition & my situation by doing the little things he asked for, like shutting the blinds at 5:30 and providing him with receipts and my left-over change for every purchase, including a soda pop at the gas station.

It may seem to you like “little things to do.” That even if they seem petty or downright silly, they are things I should have done to make him happy — and stop his yelling & stomping & threatening. I did them; I assure you I did. But there are problems with this theory, you see…

For one, my doing what he asked did not make him happy — or even happier. He simply made more lists of things I should be doing, and if I didn’t do them (or did them, but stopped doing the other things as well), the yelling & stomping continued. His greed for control grew.

And his power grew too.

I can’t say that he knew about my conversations, but he did know I was complying and doing the “fast as I can, Master” dance to please him. And so he knew he could ask for more.

And, boy, did he ask for more.

I mention this not just to point out examples of excuses we automatically give to controlling, abusive people, but to illustrate what happens to the one who is controlled and abused.

It wasn’t only that in doing such things I was devalued & debased — what adult, let alone a parent, has to account & atone for buying a soda and lazily dropping the change into her purse — or is forced to shut the window blinds at home for a man who is not there anyway?

It wasn’t only that I had more irrational rules to follow & unrealistic things to do for him.

While those things are bad enough by themselves (and if you see yourself, your sister, your friend in such a situation — get help!), probably the worst thing is that I was losing my support system.

With every “silly” complaint I made, I was losing credibility & respect outside my own home; I was the complainer.

Every time someone else that I went to for help told me to “buck up” (which, in reality, was saying, “knuckle under”), I lost my ability to trust them.

As time goes by, these are the things which only widens & deepens your isolation. You, bit by bit & one by one, kill-off your relationships and don’t have a support system.

Then, when you are on your own, you only have two voices: His & yours. And you can’t trust yours because you were wrong, see — otherwise your family & friends wouldn’t have said those things, wouldn’t have split…

I know because I lost my ability to trust myself.

I thought I should just “buck up” and “knuckle under” because that’s what everyone had said I should do — my own voice needed to shut-up, my own gut was horribly wrong.

So even if you have a person left who is willing to listen to you, you fear your fears will only be heard as whiny complaints… And if that’s what they are, complaints & not fears, then you are wrong. You are as wrong & bad & worthless as he treats you — no wonder you have to account for every nickel you spend & be given a time to shut the blinds & stomped at for not reading his mind! Saying anything to anyone else was a giant “I told you so!” — proof that he was right.

So you say less… Say nothing. Until you are bereft of power as you are support (external & internal support systems). The only thing you have is him, and when you’re so dependent upon him — you’d better do what he wants.

Giving him excuses, was giving him permission to be so controlling. With each additional permission slip, he was granted more power & control — while I was reduced to nothingness, completely dependent upon him because I was isolated & unable to trust myself.

We need to stop making excuses for abusive behaviors, stop giving them excuses for why they control, stop handing them permission slips for unacceptable actions & belief systems. We need to start believing in the “complaints” and fears of those who are abused, help them stand up for their rights, support them if/when they need to leave, and show the victims that we both hear them and are here for them. We must stop giving control freaks & abusive jerks excuses which are permission slips for continuing their persecution of the very people they profess to love.

Image from Refuge.

Toxic Break-Ups (Stalking)

Hey Alessia,

I dated this guy for about 6 months — about 6 months ago now. But he continues to call me — at home, at work, on my cell. I’ve told him in no uncertain terms to bug off, but every time he calls or leaves messages (because I avoid his calls if I can see it is him), he acts like I’ve never said such a thing. Worse, he’ll leave me messages to meet him somewhere and when I naturally have not done so (I avoid — like the plague — any bars, restaurants, etc. where we ever went just so I won’t even accidentally be where he wants me to be at any given point in time), he calls back ranting like a lunatic, asking why I stood him up.

Yesterday I came home late from work (I had stopped by my mom’s house for dinner), and I found a note from him on my door — a “where are you, you should be home by now!” note that sounded pissy. Granted I could be reading said pissy-ness into that note — but only because of his angry voice mails.

What am I supposed to do to lose this guy for real?

Sneaking-into-my-own-apartment Susan

Susan, you should not have to slink & sneak your way into your apartment or anywhere else. No means no means no means no.

You’ve made it clear you’re done, avoided him, and six moths later he’s still around?! That’s not him having a tough time with the break-up; that’s stalking.

Gather all harassing evidence you have saved from him — voice mails, texts, notes, emails, etc. — and present it to the police. (And, should the police do nothing, continue this every day, week, that it occurs until the police take action.)

Do the same with your employer. Regardless of whether or not the police take action, your employer needs to know you will not accept contact with this jerk.

Notify all landlord and your neighbors. Show them a photo & let them know he is not a friend of yours; they should call the police &/or alert you if they see him about the building, parking lot etc.

Tell all your family & friends about the situation. Especially those who have met him &/or those who he would be able to contact or visit.

Never be alone in public — easier said than done, sometimes, I know; but try to avoid arriving or leaving any place alone. And, even when out in a group, be sure to let someone who is not out with you know when and where you are going as well as when you are expected to return. (Remember to let them know when you are safely home!) Tell them who to call if you are — heaven forbid — missing or unable to speak for yourself.

Every time he even attempts to make contact with you, is spotted by neighbors, friends etc., contact the authorities.

Do not cut corners on any of this. Yes, it places a burden on you and those who care for you; but the alternative is simply no alternative at all.

Short-Term Emergency Escape Plans From Abusers

In Emergency Plan = Emotional Pain, Kellie Jo writes, “It’s one thing to know you need an emergency plan to escape possible domestic abuse, and another thing entirely to create it.” And then she proceeds to describe how her attempts went.

The first failed because it wasn’t well thought out enough — in fact, as she states, it was only a plan to get out of the house, get temporary relief, not leave her marriage.

I remember too many of those episodes myself; they’re hard to talk about.

The worst was the time I managed to get out of the apartment, shoeless but with my coat, and went to hide behind the small building behind the pool. It had a shoveled path, so there were no footprints for him to follow, and allowed me to remain unseen (by him and anyone else at the complex). On a slight hill, I had a view, just over my shoulder, of anyone approaching — as long as I sat in a giant snow drift. I kept myself warm by swigging from the bottle of vodka I had managed to swipe off the counter on my way out the door. I felt victorious when I saw him stomping out of the apartment, slamming the door behind him, on his way to the parking lot. I remember smugly giggling when he squealed out onto the main road.

But then I knew I’d have to go back; shoeless and tipsy in a snowbank was not how I wanted to be found — or how I wanted to die.

From then on, I was prepared. I kept a cheap paperback novel in one pocket of my old coat, gloves and a hat in the other, and slip-on shoes in the sleeves. I’d escape to the drive-up window area of a bank, read by the light of the (fortunately not-oft used) ATM, feeling vindicated if not protected by the angel that was the bank’s overhead camera. If he came and got me, if he attacked, if I disappeared one day, all would be on tape.

Escape Key Tee
But, like Kellie Jo, this was an escape from immediate danger, a respite plan, not a safety plan to get out of the relationship.

It sounds crazy to those who don’t live with abuse or an abuser, but these tricks often save our lives. At least in the short term. And they build our escape muscles.

We not only flee danger, but give ourselves the time and space to think. We think about what we need and create plans when we sit alone in our cars, under the shield of bank cameras, or swigging booze to dull the pain sitting without shoes in snowbanks. Those small successes also are proof that we can get away — and one day, when we get the right plan, we will get away for real.

Image Credits: The Escape Key by schmang.

What We Can Learn From Teen Dating Violence

Talk about burying the lead…

A recent survey commissioned by the Family Violence Prevention Fund and Liz Claiborne Inc. and conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited (TRU) set out to explore “how the economy has impacted dating relationships among young adolescents and to determine the level and impact of parental engagement in the issue of teen dating violence and abuse.” The survey, Impact of the Economy and Parent/Teen Dialogue on Dating Relationships and Abuse, titled their press release New Research Finds Possible Link between Troubled Economy and High Levels of Teen Dating Abuse, despite the fact that the findings were about far more then the “media popular” word “economy.”

A new survey reports today that teens nationwide are experiencing significant levels of dating abuse, and the economy appears to be making it worse. Nearly half of teens (44 percent) whose families have experienced economic problems in the past year report that they have witnessed their parents abusing each other.
Sixty-seven percent of these same teens experienced some form of violence or abuse in their own relationships and report a 50 percent higher rate of dating abuse compared to teens who have not witnessed domestic violence between their parents.

While it’s not exactly news that domestic violence increases with stressers such as economic troubles, failure to focus on the horror of parents abusing each other (and in such a high percentage as 44%) is a bit disturbing on several levels — even if the survey was about teens. Put a pin in this; we’ll be back to it in a few minutes.

The survey findings continue:

For the first time, data also shows that despite the fact that the majority of parents say they are comfortable talking about these issues, parents are not effective in educating their children about the dangers of dating abuse. 74 percent of sons and 66 percent of daughters say they have not had a conversation about dating abuse this past year. Even more troubling, the majority of teens who are in abusive relationships report they have not talked to their parents. Of the fewer than one-third who do confide in their parents, 78 percent report staying in these abusive relationships despite their parents’ advice.

Note the glaring statistic: 74 percent of sons and 66 percent of daughters say they have not had a conversation about dating abuse this past year. Evidence that we are not talking to our sons about violence, which leaves them vulnerable to abuse, but also perpetuates the BS that it’s a “women’s issue” and not the responsibility of men.


But now, in the “Hurray! We’re doing something!” part, something else disturbs me…

“This poll shows a disconnect between what some parents think is happening with their teenage children and what teens say they are experiencing,” said Family Violence Prevention Fund President (FVPF), Esta Soler. “Not enough parents recognize behaviors that may be warning signs of abuse. It concerns us that about one-third of parents don’t recognize that isolation from family, being kept away from family by a dating partner, and isolation from friends can be danger signs. We are making progress educating parents, but we’d like those numbers to be higher. So we have more work to do. Dating violence is a huge problem in this country, and we need parents, schools and everyone to take responsibility for helping keep teens safe. Macy’s is leading the way with its support for the RESPECT! campaign, which offers the tools parents need to define and promote healthy relationships, and intervene effectively if abuse begins.”

Remember when I asked you to put a pin in that part about domestic violence in the teens’ homes? Well, if 44% of the teen homes surveyed had “parents abusing each other,” then the following can easily be concluded:

Both the parent being abused and their partner (spouse, co-parent, etc.), would be under the influence of domestic violence. They might see the abuse mirrored in their child’s dating relationship, but either A), as the abuser, think it’s OK, B), as the one abused, have no power or influence to intervene (they even may have tried to intervene but were punished for it), &/or C), as the one abused, they too are isolated — and discredited.

Similarly, the teens themselves would be stuck in belief that it’s OK, be dismissive of parents’ comments because they themselves are “living it,” &/or feel powerless in general because of living with domestic violence in the household.

I’m not saying that teen dating violence should not be of any concern, but the data in this survey reveals that the prevalence of domestic violence, especially when combined with gender-skewed safety education, means that such violence prevails because we are too busy providing reasons such as “it’s a tough economy” that “explain” violence rather than flat out condemn it.

Rape Isn’t So Bad If It’s For Lust & Not Money

My area of the Twitterverse is a-fire with tweets about this idiotic post by Roger Helmer MEP:

Words like “rape” and “murder” cover a spectrum of activities, and degrees of culpability. Let’s consider a couple of murder scenarios.

First, suppose a kidnapper seizes the son of a wealthy family, and extorts money from the parents. Then after the ransom is paid, he seeks to cover his tracks by deliberately murdering his hostage.

Second scenario: a young husband returns home to find his bride in flagrante delicto with the milkman. In a fit of blind rage, the husband attacks the milkman, who dies of his injuries.

In both cases the assailant is guilty of murder, and deserves to be convicted and punished. But the cases are hugely different. In the first case, the murder is calculated, premeditated, deliberate and undertaken for money. In the second case, none of these comments applies. In the first case, I’d happily hang the murderer (I’m part of that retrograde majority which still believes in the death penalty). In the second case, a much more lenient sentence would be appropriate.

In the same way, let’s consider two rape scenarios.

The first is the classic “stranger-rape”, where a masked individual emerges from the bushes, hits his victim over the head with a blunt instrument, drags her into the undergrowth and rapes her, and the leaves her unconscious, careless whether she lives or dies.

The second is “date rape”. Imagine that a woman voluntarily goes to her boyfriend’s apartment, voluntarily goes into the bedroom, voluntarily undresses and gets into bed, perhaps anticipating sex, or naïvely expecting merely a cuddle. But at the last minute she gets cold feet and says “Stop!”. The young man, in the heat of the moment, is unable to restrain himself and carries on.

In both cases an offence has been committed, and the perpetrators deserve to be convicted and punished. But whereas in the first case, I’d again be quite happy to hang the guy, I think that most right-thinking people would expect a much lighter sentence in the second case. Rape is always wrong, but not always equally culpable.

My two scenarios also give the lie to one of the popular over-simplifications trotted out by the feminist tendency in these cases: “Rape is always about power and control and domination, never about sex”. In the first case, that may well be true. In the second case, it is clearly not true.

Let me make another point which will certainly get me vilified, but which I think is important to make: while in the first case, the blame is squarely on the perpetrator and does not attach to the victim, in the second case the victim surely shares a part of the responsibility, if only for establishing reasonable expectations in her boyfriend’s mind.

All I can say I’ve said before. So here’s a, “Thanks for giving males permission to be dumb animals with no ability to control themselves, jerk,” to Roger — and anyone else who agrees with his dangerous bullshit.

Responding To’s Top 10 Scary Girlfriend Behaviors

Alessia here, responding to’s Top 10 Scary Girlfriend Behaviors, so that they — and you — can, you know, learn something.

10 She knows things about you that you haven’t told her. Uh, maybe that’s because you men are transparent children and we can see right through you.

9 She introduces herself to your family & friends behind your back. OK, that is wildly inappropriate, if not down-right scary stalker behavior. Girls & boys, don’t do that. However…

This line, “If she gets in good with the ones you trust, it will be much harder to give her the eventual heave-ho,” is stupid. Unless you are a completely dependent or codependent person, any grown-up can and does run their own relationships and break-ups.

8 She responds to messages on your behalf. Unless she was practicing number 9 — or you were, silly boy, by not being a gown-up and avoiding things, this doesn’t really happen.

7 She has all your passwords without you having given them to her. This is like stalker No 9 behavior. Learn boundaries, people.

6 She shows up in places unexpectedly. First of all, don’t tell her where you’ll be if you don’t want her to know — that way, unless she’s a stalker doing number 9 things, it won’t happen. But girls, if a guy didn’t invite you, you’re not welcome. And that doesn’t have to be personal; it’s just some personal time.

5 She made a key to your house without asking. The article continues to say, “How she did it isn’t important right now because you should be much more concerned with why she did it and what you’re going to have to say to get it back.” Well, the freaking “how” is important. Because unless you’re a weak dude who won’t admit you actually gave her the key (or one to copy), the chick is not right in the head. Ditto guys who do this to girls.

4 She stops taking birth control without telling you. There’s so much wrong with this, I have to show it to you:

As crazy as she’s been acting, the sex is still porn-movie material. It makes sense because the crazy ones are always phenomenal in the sack. You ditched the love glove weeks ago because she is on the pill. At least you think she is on the pill. You haven’t see her take it, she hasn’t had to stop at the pharmacy for a refill and, now that you think about it, you can’t recall the last time she had a monthly visit from “Aunt Flo.”

How to handle it: You could just be imagining things, but come right out and ask her if she is still on birth control. Ask to see proof. Make up an excuse, like a friend who just found out his girlfriend is unexpectedly expecting, and it made you realize that you’re in no way ready to be a dad. She’ll want to ease your fears and show that she still pops the pill daily. If she can’t show proof, you’ll need to make a pit stop at the pharmacy for a new stock of rubber raincoats and a home pregnancy test.

Whoa, there’s so much unconditional love and trust going on there, I’m nearly at a loss for words. Nearly.

Dudes, did she ever say she was on the pill or any other birth control? If she did, she’ll tell you if/when she’s going to stop. Likely she’ll tell you why too. But she will tell you before she stops and probably even tell you to go get condoms. Why? Because she knows she’s the one at greatest risk with a pregnancy, so she’ll avoid it.

Unless, of course, all your worst stereotypical male behavior is an indication that you are living in some soap opera or movie… Then yeah, she’s gonna try to trap you into marriage by having you help create a fetus; because we womenfolk know just how well that works out for us.

(That’s dripping with sarcasm; I tell you that because if you’re so dumb as to believe this has a greater likelihood of occurrance than her killing you and your entire family, you probably can’t figure it out.)

3 She gets physical when arguing. Yes, that is scary. (Though the odds of that are far less than the odds of you men hitting a woman.) But you missed the opportunity here,, to suggest how to properly deal with abuse, i.e. get professional help for the both of you &/or stop dating/end contact entirely.

2 She threatens to hurt/kill herself. Yup, that’s scary. Neither guys nor girls should do this. Also see my previous advice about getting professional help, etc.

But then, article author Chris Illuminati (an ironic pen name, I suppose?), you had to go and say this: “The other scary behaviors should have raised enough red flags.”

OMG here I thought we were talking about the Top 10 Scary Things Women Can Do, not building the stalking pyramid of danger of one freak of a girlfriend!

I don’t want to blame a victim, but if this is all the same woman why didn’t you leave earlier? Why, Chris, didn’t you better title and otherwise sell this article as the 10 Steps To Death From A Lover?

1 She won’t let you break up with her. I think that’s a repeat of number two, personally… Or at least one and two should be reversed because only an spineless idiot is more freaked by continued contact than by suicidal (or homicidal) threats.

Yes, you ignore all contact with her; yes, you tell your family & friends do please do the same. And if we are talking about the same chick (or dude) here, you also contact the police so that there is a record of the stalking behavior and perhaps you change your phone number, tell family and friends you’ve done so (possiblly have them do the same).

And really, is this comical photo the one you should really be using here? Really?

One Thing We All Can Do To Address Violence & Abuse In Relationships

People often ask me, the tireless big mouth on the subject of toxic relationships, what’s one thing anyone and everyone should do to prevent such bad relationships. My response is to tell them to educate children.

Children need to be taught that they have rights to their own bodies, that they have a right to be and feel safe, and that when either they or their rights have been violated, what they ought to do about it. (Here’s a good starting place.)

If you disagree, if you “yeah-but” a list of excuses why not to educate children about their own rights and safety, then you need to look at what messages you learned and perpetuate — yes, your personal choice to remain silent on educating children about their own rights and safety is perpetuating the taboos that allow children to be victimized.

When children grow up certain of their own rights to their own bodies and are armed with the knowledge of what to do if they should be abused or have their rights violated, they grow up to become adults who are confident in their rights, demand respect, respect & protect the rights of others — including taking legal action against those who commit such trespasses.

Finally, Sexual Assault Tips That Don’t Blame The Victims!

I didn’t write these rules — and neither did Jess McCabe at The F Word, where I found them — but as you see, we’re all supposed to share these rules:

Please distribute this list. Put it up in your place of work, in your university’s library or wherever you think they might be read:

1. Don’t put drugs in people’s drinks in order to control their behavior.

2. When you see someone walking by themselves, leave them alone!

3. If you pull over to help someone with car problems, remember not to assault them!

4. NEVER open an unlocked door or window uninvited.

5. If you are in an elevator and someone else gets in, DON’T ASSAULT THEM!

6. Remember, people go to laundry to do their laundry, do not attempt to molest someone who is alone in a laundry room.

7. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public.

8. Always be honest with people! Don’t pretend to be a caring friend in order to gain the trust of someone you want to assault. Consider telling them you plan to assault them. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the other person may take that as a sign that you do not plan to rape them.

9. Don’t forget: you can’t have sex with someone unless they are awake!

10. Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone “on accident” you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can blow it if you do.

Any tips you all would add?

Postcards & Posters For Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Men Can Stop Rape helps us all celebrate Domestic Violence Awareness Month with a sale:

Target young men with inspiring images and messaging that highlight how they can be strong without overpowering others or resorting to violence:

So when men disrespect women,
we say that’s NOT RIGHT

Mention code DVAM20 when ordering 10 or more posters, 50 or more postcards, or 2 or more banners and receive 20% off the subtotal (before shipping).

Sale ends 10/15/09 — and you must use the promo code on your order form to receive the discount. Now shop already!


Alcohol Consumption, Alcohol Policies, and Risky Sexual Behaviors

According to work by Sara Markowitz, Robert Kaestner, and Michael Grossman, “There appears to be no evidence suggesting a causal role of alcohol use in determining the probability of having sex.”

Linda Gorman breaks it down:

The consequences of risky sexual behavior fall heavily on teenagers and young adults. In 2002, the incidence rate for chlamydia was 297 per 100,000 population for persons of all ages, 1483 for teenagers, and 1610 for young adults. Similar age disparities are found for gonorrhea, with incidence rates per 100,000 population of 125, 476, and 593, respectively. Moreover, approximately half of all new human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections in the United States occur among people under age 25. Current teen rates of pregnancy and out-of-wedlock birth in the United States are high by historical standards and high relative to other developed countries.

Although alcohol use has traditionally been associated with risky sexual behavior, there is still a question as to whether excess alcohol consumption causes an increase of risky sexual behavior among young adults. In An Investigation of the Effects of Alcohol Consumption and Alcohol Policies on Youth Risky Sexual Behaviors (NBER Working Paper No. 11378), co-authors Sara Markowitz, Robert Kaestner, and Michael Grossman ask whether alcohol use promotes risky sexual behavior and whether there are public policies that can reduce risky sexual behavior by reducing alcohol use.

The authors look at the influence of alcohol consumption on individual behavior using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and the biennial Youth Risk Behavior Surveys. Alcohol use was defined as the number of days in the past 30 days that an individual reported having had at least one drink of alcohol and the number of days on which five or more drinks were consumed. They conclude that, “there appears to be no evidence suggesting a causal role of alcohol use in determining the probability of having sex.” There was some evidence, however, suggesting that alcohol consumption does “lower the probabilities of using birth control and condoms” among sexually active teens.

The authors use aggregate data on the reported incidence of gonorrhea and AIDS infections by state to measure whether state and federal taxes on beer, county laws banning alcohol sales, laws governing blood alcohol levels, and zero tolerance laws for underage drinking and driving affect infection rates. Though women appear unaffected, zero tolerance laws appear to decrease the gonorrhea rate in males aged 15-19, and a one percent increase in beer taxes is associated a 1.1 percent reduction in the gonorrhea rate in young men aged 15-19 and 20-24. Neither the percentage of the population living in dry counties nor laws controlling blood alcohol rates affected either rate of infection.

Now compare and contrast that to Sara Markowitz’s research on the links between alcohol and violence and you’ll see the real reasons why drinking alcohol can be a problem for women.

Stand with the National Equality March in October

From my NOW newsletter…

No woman will have full equality until all women have full equality, and we must seize every opportunity to ensure equal rights under the law for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The National Organization for Women has proudly endorsed the National Equality March taking place in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 11, 2009. Read the official statement of NOW President Terry O’Neill here.

March for Equality! Join activists on Facebook
take action

After taking action, please support our work!

Here are three ways you can stand with the National Equality March this October:

1. Ask your chapter to endorse the National Equality March.

2. If you can make it to Washington, bring your NOW rounds, put on a NOW National Equality March T-shirt and join the NOW delegation in the march. Grassroots activists from chapters around the country are meeting in Farragut Square park at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday. Please gather at the corner of 17th and K (northeast portion of the park).

If you have questions, Pacific Shore NOW President Zoe Nicholson is serving as NOW National Equality March Lead and can be reached through this Facebook group for NOW activists.

Follow this link for travel tips from Equality Across America.

3. If you can’t make it to Washington, consider organizing a solidarity event in your community. Be sure to link it to the March for Equality NOW Facebook group.

take action and then donate

He’s Got Wingmen; She’s Got Cock-Blockers

Also in the October issue of Psychology Today, a piece about cooperation in courtship by Matthew Hutson titled I’ve Got Wings. The piece, complete with diagrams for play like a football coach would use, may have been so titled to play upon the old wingman dealio; but that’s only half the story as the brief article, covering research by MIT’s Josh Ackerman and ASU’s Douglas Kenrick, exposes that women and men use their same-sex friends differently:

When a woman is flirting with a desirable guy, her girlfriends will tend to leave her alone, but when she’s interacting with an undesirable, they’ll step in. Conversely, guys will leave a buddy alone if he’s stuck with a dud and provide support if he’s onto something good.

This probably isn’t news to you; but it does concisely explain what’s going on as far as wingmen & cock-blocking.

(Yes, you can click to read/see a larger scan.)


Also from Hutson’s article:

Three quarters of participants also reported that they’d used a pal as a decoy mate, typically (for men) to demonstrate desirability to other women or (for women) to ward off other guys.

Top reasons people offered for cooperation in courtship were self-satisfaction, help with future access, and friend maintenance. As competitive as the sating world is, humans advance — and defend — in packs.

If I wanted to continue the pun, I’d say something about dating going to the dogs. But I’m too classy to do that.

Feminism On A Friday

Some quick responses to what I’ve been reading this week…

First, The Cult of Masculinity by Jennifer Kesler, which clearly articulates thoughts in my own head & heart; specifically the following:

I must caution casual readers: this article is not a “Men’s Rights Activist” platform. The form of feminism I grew up taking seriously was the kind that believed the current patriarchal system was hurting both women and men, and wanted to replace it with something that would establish equal opportunity and equal responsibility for all adults (and legal protection for children and for adults unable to care for themselves). Men’s Rights Activism has a fatal flaw of interpreting natural consequences for male behavior – so long suppressed and suffered by innocents instead – as infringements of their rights, and this makes most MRA arguments illogical to the point of hilarity, if they weren’t so frightening in their blindness.

Kudos to Kesler.

If only this true equality existed — then I might not have to show you this recent post at Feministing about the cute nicknames given to men who assault women:

At Georgetown University yesterday morning, an unknown man revived a year-long series of assaults between GWU, Georgetown, and American University in which he breaks into women’s apartments near campus, lies down next to or on top of them while they sleep, attempts to enter them with his hand, then runs away when they scream. This earned him the nickname “The Georgetown Cuddler.”

“The Cuddler?!” Cuddling is a sign of affection, which implies caring for the other person, respecting at least the fact that they are separate from you & so, as autonomous beings, have their own bodies & feelings — and rights to same. Penetrating a non-consenting person, however, is as cuddly & affectionate as how I would respond to it — by striking his penis with my knee.

My reaction would be just another natural consequence the MRA folk would scream is unfair to men. *sigh*

The Facts About Children, Sex, Predators & The Internet

Last year the Internet Safety Technical Task Force released the Enhancing Child Safety and Online Technologies, the Final Report of the Internet Safety Technical Task Force to the Multi-State Working Group on Social Networking of State Attorneys General of the United States, but I wouldn’t have heard of it if it weren’t for the recent article by Michael Castleman at Psychology Today:

Last year, the attorneys general of 49 states created the Internet Safety Technical Task Force to investigate sexual solicitation of children by molesters who troll for targets using sites popular with kids, among them, MySpace and Facebook. The 278-page report concluded that there’s no real problem.

The task force, led by Harvard researchers, looked at reams of scientific data dealing with online sexual predation and found that children and teens were rarely propositioned for sex by adults who made contact via the Internet. In the handful of cases that have been documented-and highly publicized-the researchers found that the victims, almost always older teenagers, were usually willing participants already at risk for exploitation because of family problems, substance abuse, or mental health issues.

The report concluded that MySpace and Facebook “do not appear to have increased minors’ overall risk of sexual solicitation.” The report said the biggest risk to kids using social networks was bullying by other kids.

“This study shows that online social networks are not bad neighborhoods on the Internet,” said John Cardillo, whose company tracks sex offenders. “Social networks are very much like real-world communities that are inhabited mostly by good people who are there for the right reasons.”

The bottom line is, the actual threat to children from sexual predators online is negligible.

So I’m guessing the reason I hadn’t heard of this before was that the findings, though incredibly clear, aren’t willing to be heard & accepted by the population at large. Instead of shouting from the rooftops that the internet is as safe a place as any for children, or even breathing a sign of relief, people would prefer far more salacious, fear-mongering headlines.

In truth, the actual Internet Safety Technical Task Force report says that, “Bullying and harassment, most often by peers, are the most frequent threats that minors face, both online and offline.” Which means parents should be paying a lot more attention to what their children are experiences (and dispensing) at school, with their friends, etc., than they should be about the invisible “they” known as internet boogie men.

From the report:

Much of the research based on law-enforcement cases involving Internet-related child exploitation predated the rise of social networks. This research found that cases typically involved post-pubescent youth who were aware that they were meeting an adult male for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity.

And if you think that’s only gotten worse because kids today are bombarded by internet porn, well, that’s just plain wrong too; from the report:

The Internet increases the availability of harmful, problematic and illegal content, but does not always increase minors’ exposure. Unwanted exposure to pornography does occur online, but those most likely to be exposed are those seeking it out, such as older male minors.

In other words, most kids ignore it, but those (mostly male) youths who want it go for it — just like those meeting with adults or others for sex. Because teens have sex drives, so you’d better be prepared to deal with the issue.

However, the report does not ignore the few times where child molesters have connected with youth online. It says that in the small number of cases, the internet was the first of several steps — the rest of which are no different than how “real world” hook-ups are made. So, if the sexual predator finds prey on the internet & the prey responds, the next step is telephone contact (right under their parents’ noses), followed by eventual meetings in person.

Here’s what the report suggests in terms of advice (I’ve bullet-pointed them, so they are easier to read):

Careful consideration should be given to what the data show about the actual risks to minors’ safety online and how best to address them, to constitutional rights, and to privacy and security concerns.

Parents and caregivers should:

  • educate themselves about the Internet and the ways in which their children use it, as well as about technology in general
  • explore and evaluate the effectiveness of available technological tools for their particular child and their family context, and adopt those tools as may be appropriate
  • be engaged and involved in their children’s Internet use
  • be conscious of the common risks youth face to help their children understand and navigate the technologies
  • be attentive to at-risk minors in their community and in their children’s peer group
  • and recognize when they need to seek help from others.

All of this, though, ignores the basic facts regarding child molestation: Most rapes, sexual assaults, and abuse is perpetuated by someone that the victim knows and trusts.

And I guess that’s the real reason I hadn’t heard of this report & its findings before; people still prefer to pretend they are safe at home, that the unknown danger is “other” and locked outside — or on the internet.

Help The Heavens Open Up For RAINN

christina-fight-sexual-assaultRAINN (Rape Abuse and Incest National Network) is the nation’s largest anti-sexual assault organization. While the demand for their National Sexual Assault Hotline has doubled in the past year (their phone hotlines continue to help about 10,000 people each month), many funding sources are decreasing their support in this economy. To raise funds (and awareness), RAINN will be hosting a party in Washington D.C. on September 9, 2009 with spokesperson Christina Ricci; go if you can (donate if you can’t go!)

Along with the hotlines, RAINN carries out programs to prevent sexual assault, helps victims, and works to ensure that rapists are brought to justice.

Less Physical Dating Violence & Greater Condom Use — Among Boys Only?

Research done at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Centre for Prevention Science in London, Canada, reveals that a course on dating violence and healthy relationships may provide benefits for high school students, particularly boys.

According to

David A. Wolfe, Ph.D., of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Centre for Prevention Science in London, Canada, and colleagues analyzed data from 1,722 ninth-grade students attending schools that were randomly assigned to the intervention or to serve as controls. The intervention was a 21-lesson program led by teachers, integrating dating violence prevention with core lessons about sexual health, substance abuse prevention and healthy relationships.

After 2.5 years, the researchers found that physical dating violence was higher in control versus intervention students (adjusted odds ratio, 2.42). Although boys in intervention schools were less likely than the controls to engage in dating violence, girls in both groups had similar physical dating violence rates. Condom use was higher among sexually active boys in intervention schools (67.9 versus 58.6 percent).

“We found support for the hypothesis that teaching youth about healthy relationships and ways to avoid physical dating violence in Grade 9 Health classes would reduce physical dating violence 2.5 years later, but this effect may be limited to boys,” the authors write. “Although overall rates of substance use and peer violence were unaffected by the intervention, exploratory analyses indicated that boys in the intervention schools reported safer sexual practices (indicated by always using condoms).”

Before I say anything else, let me give a great big “Hooray!” that more young men were using condoms!

And a giant “Wo0t!” as the kids would say, that the boys were less likely to be involved in dating violence.

But isn’t it interesting that while the boys in the class were less likely to participate in dating violence, the girls in class were still experiencing the same amount of dating violence…

That sorta changes that “Wo0t!” to a “Shoot.”

Do we conclude that there was some gender bias in teaching &/or course work, and so the girls didn’t learn or accept the information as readily as the boys?

Do we conclude that a large number of the girls date boys outside those classes — and that the girls “knew better” but in the intimidation of the moment(s), they fell prey to boys with a more predatory nature?

Are there just a few bad boys dating all the girls?

Or do we conclude there is some sort of discrepancy between what the boys reported and what the boys did — *cough* LIARS!

Because the abstract gives very little information & reading the full report & findings published in the August issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine requires a fee, I can’t really say for certain what I think…

Do you have any ideas?


This post is part of the blogathon for Hope For Healing; Twolia generously sponsored me in this wonderful event raising awareness of domestic violence & funds for supporting victims!

You can help too: Comment, link, Tweet & use this special link to iSearch.iGive.comclicking it and performing searches will raise money for HopeForHealing.Org.

A Kiss On The Hand May Be Quite Continental, But…

In a case of “Oh My God, why would anyone have a need to write a post like this?!” Laura recounts a recent home invasion in which the person was invited to make a repair estimate — but thinks he has rights to her person. Astonishing.

But then, most of the replies are heartwarming & give me reason to hope that one day no one will ever need to write such a post because such stupid inexcusable things were done. (Except for “The Fixer,” who is obviously a very broken person.)


This post is part of the blogathon for Hope For Healing, raising awareness of domestic violence. Twolia generously sponsored me in this wonderful event! You can help too: Comment, link, Tweet & use this special link to iSearch.iGive.comclicking it and performing searches will raise money for HopeForHealing.Org.

When Funding Is Cut

In an effort to reduce spending and balance the budget, Governor Schwarzenegger eliminated the $16.3 million initiative that funds domestic violence shelters statewide. The San Francisco Domestic Violence Consortium & Partners Ending Domestic Abuse did manage to get public funding restored — but I thought you should be aware of just how much of a threat funding cuts are…

In this working example of the California cuts, a total of 94 organizations receive funding; for some of those organizations the state money is more than half of their budget.

But the effects wouldn’t only be limited to them.

Many shelters use state funds to contract with other nonprofits to help battered women & their children access legal, health, counseling, and other services at other agencies — but if the shelters can’t pay for those services, the nonprofits who rely on those contract fees will suffer too, forcing lay-offs & agency closures.

Not to mention the number of abused women and families in need of the shelters & other services which would be left to their own defenses.

Let this serve as a reminder for you to speak up locally about supporting your state’s funding programs; let your governor & state representatives know how vital the issue is to you before there is a crisis to be averted.

And this this be a reminder to donate to your local organizations which work with & support victims of domestic violence; funding is a terrible thing to lose.


This post is part of the Twolia sponsored blogathon for Hope For Healing, raising money for & awareness of domestic violence; use this special link to iSearch.iGive.comclicking it and performing searches will raise money for HopeForHealing.Org.

Preventing Intimate Partner Violence, Is Screening Enough?

According to a recent study, the answer is “No.”

Screening for domestic violence followed by referral to a clinician does not reduce the recurrence of violence among women, according to a study for the the McMaster Violence Against Women Research Group, published in the August 5, 2009, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. (Full text here.) In the published editorial on the study, the authors have this to say:

[This study] should dispel any illusions that universal screening with passive referrals to community services is an adequate response to violence in intimate relationships.

The findings are not overly surprising to me…. And it reminds me of how that “Are you safe at home?” questions is addressed whenever I visit doctors offices, the emergency room, walk-in clinics etc. The question in terms of words varies only slightly (from “Are you safe” to “Do you feel safe” to “How would you rate your sense of safety at home?” etc.), but the manner and tone in which it’s asked varies quite a bit.

For some, it’s such a routine question, it seems as if your answer isn’t even going to register. Others try to toss it in with the litany of other questions, like a sneaky curve ball, hoping you’ll be caught off guard and give away the truth you might otherwise resist. Still others seem embarrassed to ask it — but they are fine with my “dignity” hanging out the back of a paper gown.

I wonder if there have been any studies on how effective the actual questioning aka screening itself is.

Men Who Get It — And Do Something About It (#2)

men-can-stop-rape-incContinuing my support of men who “get it,”, today I salute Men Can Stop Rape, Inc. (MCSR), an international organization that mobilizes men to use their strength for creating cultures free from violence, especially men’s violence against women.

MCSR provides agencies, schools, and organizations with direct services for youth, public service messaging, and leadership training.

Our Mission
To mobilize men to use their strength for creating cultures free from violence, especially men’s violence against women.

Our Vision
To institutionalize primary prevention of men’s violence against women through sustained initiatives that generate positive, measurable outcomes in populations throughout the world.

A World Leader
Since its inception in 1997, MCSR has led the call to redefine masculinity and male strength as part of preventing men’s violence against women. In 2007, MCSR was named the United States Changemakers winner in the competition to identify the world’s most innovative domestic violence prevention programs, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

A Comprehensive Approach
In contrast to traditional efforts that address men as “the problem,” MCSR’s pioneering Strength Campaign embraces men as vital allies with the will and character to make healthy choices and foster safe, equitable relationships. Our youth development programming, public education messaging, and leadership training together constitute a unified and comprehensive campaign that has been launched in states and cities around the country.

Give MCSR your fingers — not the finger! Help Men Can Stop Rape with their upcoming mailing:

DATE: Wed, August 5

TIME: 5:00 – 8:00

Ste 200

MORE: MCSR needs your help for our upcoming mailing! We’ll provide dinner, you provide your invaluable stamp-sticking, envelope-stuffing skills. Please RSVP (email cporter-borden (at) if you can attend. We greatly appreciate your help!

For more information, visit the MCSR website, or contact them directly:

Men Can Stop Rape, Inc. (MCSR)
1003 K Street, NW, Suite 200
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: 202.265.6530
Fax: 202.265.4362

Oprah: At Least 6 Years Late On Domestic Violence

The August 2009 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, has a feature story (beginning on page 154, after the book reviews?!) on how the laws against domestic violence aren’t enforced. The piece, titled “Why Didn’t They Stop Him?” (by Phoebe Zerwick, photographs by Mary Ellen Mark) is an excellent one — and long overdue.

Not only did I pitch this story roughly 6 years ago to Oprah, but the horrible especially because it’s true story of the ordeal of Vernetta Cockerham which resulted in her daughter’s murder is really only half the story.

Every time I start to blog about Oprah and her ignorant stance on domestic violence (she thinks it’s as simple as leaving), I get so infuriated I have to quit; I have 7 posts in draft to prove it. And this one will be short so that I can finally get to posting something without getting so outraged or ill that I cannot continue.

For the past 6 years I’ve contacted Oprah by every means I could find: via her website’s online form, via email, via phone messages at Harpo, and even spoke directly to producers of the show — who told me the half-dozen books and another half-dozen studies on the subject weren’t enough; call back when I published my own book.

Grrr — I’m in the middle of a battle for my own safety & that of my children; the book, and 1 million other things, will have to wait.

Wait for the day someone wants to open their minds to the realities — before another woman &/or her child(ren) dies.

Yes, Oprah, I told you about the Massachusetts study in 2000 which said that as many as 60-80% of restraining orders are not enforced; and I have the personal experiences to prove it. Running from my abuser kinda kept me a bit too busy to write that book.

Yes, I told your staff about the U.S. Department of Justice study that same year which said that arrests were only made in:

47% of the cases in which the victim reported being raped

36% of the cases in which the victim reported being assaulted

29% of the cases in which the victim reported being stalked.

I especially went into great detail about what happens when children are involved in domestic violence cases.

And I emphatically stated how all of this not only results in victims having a loss of faith in the system, how it not only results in keeping victims with their abusers, but how it is further abuse of victims by the system & how it impacts the children involved.

I even offered to put myself at further risk by going on-air to discuss this.

So, while I applaud you for finally getting to the truth of some of the matters involved in domestic violence, Oprah, I wonder why it took you so long? Especially when you had 6 years of my nagging.

I wonder how much longer it will take for you to heed my voice and take up the other issues I have brought to your attention?

And I wonder how many more women & children will suffer & die during that time.

But I guess death just sells more that saving lives, doesn’t it; don’t worry, continue to ignore us, and you’ll have more deaths to put on the cover of your publications.

Oprah, and staff, be prepared for more calls & emails from me.

Royal Pains, Crazy Love, Stereotypes, Abuse Excuse, & Big Fines

Last night’s Royal Pains gave me a royal pain in my donkey. Normally I love the show (especially the MacGyver-medical stuff), but last night…


One of the plots in this episode (titled Crazy Love) revolves around a “passionate Latino couple” from Caracas. (I’ll spare you my diatribe on the stereotypical ick of that — and most of the hour long show’s plot — and just get to the part that makes me want to slap Royal Pains with a fine.) “Passionate Latina” Sophie (played by the lovely Roselyn Sanchez), discovers that along with paying for her boob job, her adoring husband (who is having financial troubles and so fears his beautiful wife will leave him) has had a GPS device implanted in her without her permission. This is discovered when she’s having an MRI and the device tries to pop through her chest (incredibly gross!), and gives her radiation poisoning.

royal-pains-promo-stillWe never see Sophia upset (though the concierge doc, when confronting the husband with moral & medical outrage, tells the husband to “give her some space now” — and Divya, when asked by the doc how Sophia is doing, says, “She just keeps saying (in mocking Spanish accent), ‘Why me? Why me?'”). When Sophia lays in the hospital bed, recovering from the surgery to save her from the radiation poisoning, her sheepish husband shows up at the door to her room and asks if he may come in. Sophia says yes; he says he’s so sorry. Sophia’s reply?

(Get ready for it, because it’s so infuriating!)

Sophia’s reply to her controlling spouse who has had her secretively implanted with a GPS device so that he can track her, to a man who nearly killed her with such abusive behavior, is… “I didn’t know you loved me so much.” And then they kiss so much that everyone leaves the room.

Ho-ly crap.

Didn’t anyone during the writing, acting, editing — any part of making this show — violently puke at the idea of even suggesting a happy, sexy, “forgive & forget” reaction to the discovery that a man has violated his wife by secretively implanting her with a tracking device?!

I guess it’s all a-OK because he was stressed over money & insecure; isn’t that the excuse we so often offer abusers? We see the incidents (at least the reports) increase during times of economic down-turns, and we study those connections, but do nothing about it — other than use it to justify, to excuse the control & violence.  Here, in this show, literally.

And they didn’t even leave it at that!

This lovely-dovey stuff makes Divya covet such passion for herself with her (presumably arranged) engagement. Barf barf barf barf barf.

Isn’t one woman mistaking love for abuse enough? No, you had to show us another woman craving it, thinking that’s the secret sauce missing from her happiness sandwich.

Knowing all this, doesn’t it make the episode’s title of Crazy Love wildly inappropriate? You’re going to inform us that you can check for blood type matches in a jiffy using a silver tray, but you’ll pass along the dangerous mythinformation that love = control?  Bad math, bad science, bad idea.

Shame on all of you at Royal Pains. I sentence to you to a fine of $60 million to, payable to two different abuse & crisis centers (each receiving $30 million) — one organization specifically helping Hispanic women.

And don’t ever do this again. I want to keep watching your show — but if you ever do this again… Well, let’s just say that I doubt you’ll be responding to me with a “I didn’t know you loved me so much.”

Dating Fear Mongering, Single Mom Edition

Once again, supposed experts shoot their mouths off, using salacious headlines and fear to label & manipulate women; this time the horrible deeds are being done by Robert Siciliano at Single Minded Women.

In the article, Siciliano paints single mothers as easy prey for sexual predators:

…the one under-discussed, over looked and “it can’t happen to me” aspect of being on the dating scene is your personal security, and that of your children. In fact, online dating is one way pedophiles find their next victims (through unsuspecting single mothers looking for love and perhaps a male role model for their children).

While the supposed security expert infuriates me with his depiction of single moms as so eager for love that they’d sacrifice their own children, it’s only going to get worse:

As the saying goes, “water seeks its own level” which means unhealthy, insecure people seek each other out; this often leads to destructive relationships. But what’s worse is insecure people often seek out destructive, unhealthy and sometimes violent people. We’ve all read the story, the single woman or single mom who couldn’t break the cycle of always settling for less, and winds up a statistic.

Healthy, conscious, right minded people don’t settle for less and can sense “bad” from a mile away. They are secure, and often are aware of their personal security as well. When something doesn’t look or seem right, they pay attention to their senses and get themselves out of what may become a dangerous situation. They cut their losses and chalk it up to a learning experience. Others get deeper into destruction.

There is a clear parallel here between what would be considered a healthy potential mate, and a predator that has nothing but bad intentions. The good guy actively pursues what he believes to be his heart and does things to romance his potential mate. The bad guy does the same thing but in the name of personal gain, manipulation and evil. Predators will target anyone who will give them their time and attention. Often a smooth talking good looking guy, who is a predator, may win over the attention of a healthy and conscious woman, but she will soon see there’s something wrong with the guy. Whereas an unhealthy woman who is unsure of her personal security will settle for less and in some cases put her and her children at risk. Sadly, sometimes loneliness trumps consciousness.

Sadly, sometimes it’s media-hungry experts who consciously prey upon the fears & insecurities of the humans they pretend to be helping.

The real “clear parallel” that Siciliano seems to be operating off of is his non-documented notion that single mothers are single parents because they are “unhealthy,” “insecure,” “destructive,” & therefore somehow more likely to put their children at risk.

Think I’m exaggerating? Here’s his first bit of helpful (and tainted) advice (page 2):

First make sure you have a healthy strong mind and your self esteem is in order. Read as many self help books as possible, go to weekend empowerment retreats, associate with friends that are goal oriented and have their life in order, shred any baggage you may have and most importantly, “know thyself”; which means to understand oneself is to understand others as well.

Like all self help books are full of sound advice. *snort* Like those with real (not author-imagined) mental health issues are able to trust their way to “health” through a book alone — or trust their friends (doesn’t that “water seeks its own level” business apply to friends too?)

The rest of his advice for dating safely online is fine; rather generic and based on the commonsense advice your friends give you (and not unlike what mom told you in the years before the internet & other tech gadgets), but his message gets lost in the fear-mongering & victim blaming.

If there is any connection (and I’ve not yet ready any study that indicates this) between single moms’ children being at risk from pedophiles and/or sexual predators, I’m willing to bet that this has less to do with the single mother’s poor self esteem than it does with access to the children.

Just as biological dad has access to his own kids, step-dad or mom’s boyfriend is there to watch the kids while she works, runs errands, etc. In both cases (as with uncles, other family members, clergy, etc.), these males are (eventually) trusted to be alone with the children; trust being something the criminal works hard to gain. It’s a matter of single mothers working, meaning a higher rate of absenteeism from home; not something necessarily borne of an “unhealthy” single mom putting her children at risk for the sake of her own loneliness.

Are some pedophiles using dating sites to target victims? Sure they are. Just like rapists are. But targeting victims isn’t new. Before the internet and dating sites, those willing to commit sex crimes against children were trolling parks, volunteering to coach or otherwise be with & supervise children, etc. looking for victims. (I they wanted adult female victims, they knew what they were looking for & did their best to find the situational windows to take advantage of.)

Like Celeste Moyers, the director of the Safer Online Dating Alliance, said two years ago (when Good Morning America covered this “story”), “If someone wants to do harm, that person will find a way to do it.”

“People are caught off guard,” she said. “Even the smartest savviest online dater can be a victim of sexual assault.”

So why is this fact buried in most of the coverage of this issue — and absent from Siciliano’s salacious story?

Because it’s preferred to blame the victim — and the victim’s mother — rather than to hold the victimizing, criminal pedophile responsible.

Shame on Robert Siciliano for playing up & preying on the fears of female single parents, for labeling them “unhealthy” for not being married, for blaming them for somehow increasing the potential victimization of their children.

Men Claim They Are Dumb Animals With No Ability To Control Their Violence

G, aka ToxicShockTaco, commented here about some stupid comments she’s read & frustrating conversations she’s had online which prompted her to write this blog post. Following her links, I found the usual victim blaming mentality which serves to excuse criminal acts; things which shouldn’t surprise me because they are so commonplace. But still, like G, I can’t help but feel compelled to say what I can in hopes that there’s a chance to educate.

Among “Jimbo’s Jems”:

So, I guess if a girl decided it would be cool to smear raw ground beef all over herself & walk inside a pen full of hungry lions, getting eaten alive wouldn’t be her fault either, eh?

Or, on a more plausible note, if she thought it would be cool to walk into an outlaw biker bar & strut around half naked, she wouldn’t be considered to hold one shred of responsibility for anything that happened to her there, either.


OK, don’t you love how he compares himself & men in general to a predatory beast? And how he thinks sex = food?

Yes, the sex drive is biological, like hunger; but they are neither equal in need nor imperative. And even when it comes to hunger, humans — even the male ones who joke about the 5 second rule for food on the floor, would consider the possible consequences of eating raw (or even cooked) meat they just stumbled upon.

If I were a man, I’d be insulted that you forfeit male ability to exercise self-control. As the mother of a son, I’m angry. How dare you say that penis or testosterone equals inability to control one’s self! As if being male limits a person to some sort of reptilian, reactionary response — of a violent nature yet!

Even the comparison to “outlaw bikers” is ridiculous.

First of all, the very word “outlaw” means criminal, so obviously, the matter of safety is an issue for anyone — and if he meant Outlaw with a capital “O”, well, I’m not sure that violence towards women is in the bylaws… And in either case, I don’t think I’d toss around that implication lightly. (Frankly, I suspect, Jimbo is just throwing around pejoratives, playing with fears &/or negative opinions of bikers; my personal experiences with bikers of any sort, including Outlaws with a capital “O,” have been nothing but respectful — in fact, they have been the first to back me up when a drunk jerk hasn’t backed-off when told to.)

Secondly, with regards to his questions/accusations that a woman “strutting around half-naked” in any sort of a bar believes herself free from the responsibility of the actions of others, let me help Jimbo out here. Such a woman may be risking legal actions such as “indecent,” “disorderly,” and “harassment” — not to mention just plain rude — depending upon what exactly “half-naked” is, what the location is (strippers, for example, are more than 1/2 naked and they are not allowed to be assaulted or raped), and other situational issues. But yeah, she’s not responsible for what other’s do.

Jimbo continues:

Because as we all know, a woman should be able to wear anything she damn well pleases with no thought to the possible consequences, and any consequences she may suffer, will never be considered to be even partially her responsibility, even though she engaged in behavior that expopsed her to risk to begin with.


No, of course not. A woman shouldn’t be outside wearing a bikini in temperatures 40 degrees below zero. A woman should not violate dress codes at the place of her employment. A woman should not wear clothing soaked in gasoline, even if she’s not standing next to a burning building. And there are countless other situations in which women should follow rules of safety & convention. But “scantily dressed” or even “nude” does not mean that she has put herself in the path of sexual danger — the criminals stalk her down on her path, regardless of how she is dressed.

In case you can’t see the difference between sexual assault & the to-be-expected dangers of my particular examples, let me make them clear for you. In the case of bikinis outside in winter, the elements are not controllable, so humans must dress for the weather or risk threats of exposure to the cold. In the case of employer dress codes, the employee has agreed to the dress codes and risks loss of job if they do not comply. In the case of wearing gasoline-soaked clothing, well, frankly, there’s no reason to wear it and it would be risking burns & death from a spark from anything anywhere along with other health issues — all immutable laws of science which can & should be avoided by not being an idiot. However, in the case of being “half-naked” or whatever, becoming a victim of sexual crimes is not dependent upon immutable laws of science or medicine or legal contracts — it is based upon the actions of another, something one has no control over, outside of societal agreements & norms (which criminals are willing to break, no matter how the victim is dressed or acts) or, after the fact, courtrooms.

In any other area of life, all people, both men & women, are considered responsible for their own safety & well being. If you have unprotected sex with strangers & get aids, it will be considered your fault for engaing in risky behavior. Drive without your seat belt & get injured in a wreck, even your insurance company will successfully argue in court that you share some of the responsibility for your injuries. But when it comes to fashion choices & how a gal presents herself in public, whether by dressing in skimpy, revealing clothes or posting sexually suggestive pictures of herself online, suddenly reponsibility goes out the window & it’s a ghastly social faux-pas to even hint that she may have brought something on herself by the choices she made.

OK, so my other examples should make most of this clear, but…

Are you, Jimbo, saying that if a woman is raped by a stranger who doesn’t use a condom & ends up with HIV or AIDS, that she is at fault? Maybe that’s not what you intended, but I’m pretty sure it’s implied there somewhere.

Even if it’s not, when a person consents to sex with anyone, stranger or not, condom use or not, this act of sex cannot be be compared with rape in any way because rape is by definition lacking consent, you freaking idiot!

Ditto the seatbelt. Use or non-use of a seatbelt is a matter of consent. And when a woman dresses skimpy, the only thing she is consenting to is being dressed skimpy. She is not consenting to sex. In fact, the question hasn’t even come up yet.

Assaults, rape and other sex crimes are without consent. Which means she said “No” or was unable to say “Yes” by virtue of physical or mental state, and what she had on or off is absolutely meaningless. At this point of “no” or inability to give consent, any action or continuation is solely the act & responsibility of the rapist/attacker/criminal.

He is the perpetrator, she the victim; and he carries all the blame. Period.

So yes, it is “a ghastly social faux-pas to even hint that she may have brought something on herself by the choices she made,” you misogynistic twit.

Furthermore, when talking about rape, do not condescendingly refer to females as “gals.”

Of course stalking or raping a woman is criminal & morally wrong. But that doesn’t mean that it’s just perfectly OK for women to exacerbate their chances by making themselves a target.

How do we, exactly, “exacerbate our chances” of making ourselves targets of crimes which are perpetuated by criminals who hate women? That is the million dollar question. But this has nothing to do with, as you ignorantly believe & argue, the dress, talk or actions of women/potential victims, attractive or not. Simply by opting to remain ignorant (because you refuse to read the actual information, studies &/or statistics), you show no concern for the realities and safety of women and are exposing yourself as a danger to women.

More from Jimbo:

I don’t think most women really understand what the sight of an attractive, nearly naked female does to a man with an active libido. Most men can control themselves, but some just can’t. And those guys have eyes, too.

This is the belief system which exposes you as a man afraid of women. You believe women have “power over men,” rendering men, if they are not already unable to control themselves, powerless to T&A. I guess in your fear of the big bad women, you see on the horizon nothing but a future of weakness, pity & self-loathing for you & your gender and so you think men have the right to take what they want to ward this off. But, Jimbo, that’s not a man.

In another comment, Jimbo wraps up his philosophy:

You make it sound like I’m somehow excusing the act of rape, when I’m not. But I will state categorically, any woman who goes out to nightclubs by herself or even with another girl or group of girls, dressed in an ultra short, tight-fitting skirt with a plunging neckline showing off a lot of cleavage & wearing what Amy Winehouse referred to in song as “Fuck Me Pumps”, then spends the evening hanging out & flirting with strange men, is putting herself in a dangerous situation. And if something bad happens to her, while it might not be technically “her fault”, SHE BEARS A PORTION OF THE RESPONSIBILITY for doing all the things that put her in that situation.

So let me recap too.

By removing any of the responsibility from the person who committed the crime, you are excusing the perpetrator of that crime.

By placing any percentage of the responsibility, no matter how small, on the part of the victim, you are blaming the victim.

Here’s the math, Jimbo: The person who commits rape is 100% responsible.

Of course, I’m aware that Jimbo, if he reads this or G’s post, will just sneer. He’ll likely dismiss this post with his usual rhetoric, “It’s a total lack of a sense of humor & an air of deathly self-seriousness that all feminists seem to have in common.” Or maybe he’ll just call me a “fat old hag” — because that’s the other usual attack. *yawn* (Even if I was, it wouldn’t make me any less right, pinheads.)

But maybe, just maybe, we can reach a few more enlightened folks who at least want to believe that males can & should control themselves & their predatory instincts.

Whether they do or not, they are 100% responsible for their actions.

We’re Sick, Sick, Sick Of Violence & Hatred Towards Women

The following was written by Tenured Radical after the May 2009 campus shooting at Wesleyan, but it sums up so much for me and others (some of which wonder if the US flag flies for women too) that I had to share it:

But can I say one thing? I am sad, but I am also angry. I am sick, sick, sick of men beating, brutalizing and killing women and children, of boys brutalizing their girlfriends, of fathers raping and killing their wives and daughters. All these years after second wave feminists first raised this as a fundamental problem in our culture during the 1970s, the media, the police and our judicial system still treats each of these things like an isolated incident of individual pathology. And there seems to be no organized feminist movement left to insist, in contradiction to this vapid construction, that the hatred of women by men is a systemic cultural and political problem in the United States. I am sick of men who think they acquire ownership rights to women because they fall in “love” with them, men who think that “love” entitles them to do whatever the hell they please to keep women under their control so they can “love” them even more. I am tired right now and have nothing eloquent or intelligent to say on the topic, but if this short rant feeds your feminist outrage too, go to this post by Historiann about the Loyola University tragedy, where Daddy decided that his life wasn’t worth living and then imagined that the rest of the family would be better off dead too, a not uncommon scenario. I end with a quote from Historiann’s post:

Just curious: how many women and children (especially girl children, as in this case–2 women and one girl were the victims here) have to die before someone notices? One woman is accused of a child murder out in California, and that’s all we hear about all day long. But husbands apparently have carte blanche when it comes to murdering the women and girls who lived in their homes?

What’s your guess, friends? (Are you holding your breath?) If 2,100 women and children are killed simultaneously on live television by their male partners and fathers, even if it’s not by jetliners crashing into buildings, do you think anyone will notice then?

Carnival Against Sexual Violence #72

I know many people don’t like reading about “stuff like this” — it’s too depressing &/or too upsetting, but the 72nd edition of the Carnival Against Sexual Violence has been published.

You should read it because 1 in 6 women (and 1 in 33 men) will be a victim of sexual assault in their lifetime — and if it’s not you, you will know someone who has been a victim.  The issue matters now, before you or someone you love is assaulted; it matters because ignorance and avoidance of the issue helps perpetuate the violence.

Men Who Get It — And Do Something About It (#1)

I do a lot of talking here about the fact that men need to take responsibility for their personal roles in rape and violence against women — this includes making a loud vocal stand against such crimes & attitudes. So I figured it was about time to show some of the men who are doing such work.


To debut the series saluting men who care, the work of the White Ribbon Campaign, the largest effort in the world of men working to end violence against women (VAW):

In over fifty-five countries, campaigns are led by both men and women, even though the focus is on educating men and boys.

… Wearing a white ribbon is a personal pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women and girls. Wearing a white ribbon is a way of saying, “Our future has no violence against women.”


We do not think that men are naturally violent and we don’t think that men are bad, however we do think all men have roles and responsibilities in ending violence against women. The majority of men are not physically violent. Researchers tell us many past cultures had little or no violence.

At the same time, we do think that some men have learned to express their anger or insecurity through violence. Far too many men have come to believe that violence against a woman, child or another man is an acceptable way to control another person, especially an intimate partner.

By remaining silent about these things, we allow other men to poison our work, schools and homes.

The good news is that more and more men and boys want to make a difference. Caring men are tired of the sexism that hurts the women around them. Caring men are also concerned with the impact of this violence on the lives of men and boys.

All images shown here are posters belonging to the White Ribbon organization; go get yourself some & spread the word while supporting the cause.

For more on the White Ribbon Campaign:

The White Ribbon Campaign
365 Bloor St. East, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4W 3L4
Phone: (416) 920-6684 | Toll Free: 1-800-328-2228 | Fax: (416) 920-1678
Email: info(at)whiteribbon(dot)ca
Charitable Registration 14105 0708 RR0001

You can also keep up with them at Twitter. (I am.)


Might As Well Just Hit Myself With A Rolled-Up Cosmo

cosmopolitan-mag-june-2009The June issue of Cosmo has a cover screaming the usual predatory scare tactics about love, lust, sex and how not to be a fatty. But buried on page 44, the pickle-sized beef patty on an obnoxiously condiment loaded burger, is the meet of the issue.

Is It Ever Okay To Stay If He’s Hit You? is an article prompted by the Rihanna/Chris Brown situation (another topic I should sink my teeth into, eventually), and it discusses how even a shove is dating violence.

While the one page (large font & image laden) article isn’t bad, it barely covers the subject of dating & domestic violence past the surface stuff. However, given Cosmo‘s poor & even dangerous presentation of such serious issues, I suppose I should count my lucky stars that the topic even made it into the glossy — even if it, as it usually does these days, took a celeb situation to warrant any coverage at all.

cosmo-abuse-in-relationshipsBut I’m not thrilled.

Not just because it’s skimpy coverage, designed to provide assistance in gossiping about Rihanna and her “shocking” decision to “take Chris back.” But because it’s buried on page 44 — and the issue isn’t even put on the cover.

Yeah, I know that the domestic violence issue, like rape, is a downer and that it won’t make copies fly off the news stands like Best. Sex. Ever. (I know this from writing Relationship Underarm Stick.) But is it too much to ask that Cosmo give attention where attention is due and at least try to look like it gives a damn about the safety of women? More in-depth — and accurate — articles, please; and load the cover with ’em when you run ’em.

Because while the chicks who read this stuff are probably the least likely to be drawn to important personal safety information, they are probably the most in need of it.

Of Abuse & Avatars — And Outrage

At first glance what I’m about to post may seem to be back-peddling on my stance regarding rape (the lengthy debate of which you can follow with these posts); but keep reading, because I think what I’m about to share has a lot more to say about society than what’s presented…

CNN reports on a recent study, lead by Jennie G. Noll of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio, published in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics titled Childhood Abuse, Avatar Choices, and Other Risk Factors Associated With Internet-Initiated Victimization of Adolescent Girls. From CNN’s report:

“Results indicated that abuse status was significantly related to online sexual advances, which were, in turn, related to offline, in-person encounters,” the study says.

The authors say there was no direct link between abuse and offline encounters, but that a history of abuse puts girls at greater risk.

Looking at the girls’ avatar choices, the authors found that girls who present themselves provocatively in body and clothing choices are more likely to have had online sexual advances.

That risk is tied not just to an avatar, but to the overall image a girl projects online, they say. On sites that don’t use avatars, such as MySpace or Facebook, simply compiling suggestive photographs or narrative descriptions can increase girls’ vulnerability, they say.

“Those adolescents who may be unaware of how their appearance might be perceived may not, from a developmental perspective, possess the social sophistication necessary to field and ward off sexual advances in ways that protect them from sexually explicit suggestions,” the study says.

“This may be a particularly important lesson to convey to female adolescents who are especially vulnerable to exploitation and victimization, such as those who have been victims of childhood abuse,” it says.

CNN ends their report with the mandatory, “watch your kids!” mantra.

“Caregiver presence was associated with significantly fewer reports by adolescents of online solicitations,” the study says. “As such, the importance of parental monitoring of adolescent Internet use cannot be understated.”

I’m not against such things; I not only believe in such parental involvement, I participate in it with my own children. But, as Diana Hartman notes, this bland bit of advice might actually be counter-productive when it comes to adolescent victims of abuse:

While the study found “caregiver presence was associated with significantly fewer reports by adolescents of online solicitations,” it is also important to note that 62 percent of females under the age of 18 were abused by someone known to them. Furthermore, in more than half these cases the biological father was the perpetrator.

Hartman ends her fine post with this sentiment:

Instead of studying the girls, the authors might seriously consider the best way to treat them.

I agree — but equally important, where’s the study &/or training of would-be victimizers and exploiters?

Once again, the behavior of victims & potential victims is what is scrutinized and therefore held accountable rather than that of perpetrators.

It’s easy to dismissively wave your hand at such a thought, to poo-poo me with a, “Where are we going to get honest perps from?” But that poo-pooing only leaves us with more of this shit.

We keep identifying victims, defining their behavior as risqué and risky (and doesn’t that just stink of judgment and victim blaming), regurgitating that information to dictate behaviors of potential victims (mainly women), and through it all, we turn a blind eye to the culprits — the very people who need to stop/be stopped.

You might not think this has much to do with adults online &/or adults dating, but honestly, yesterday’s adolescents are today’s adults; has that much changed? I don’t think so.

And today’s adolescents are the adults of tomorrow; are we educating them for the creation of a better world tomorrow?  I don’t think we’re doing that either.