More #YesAllWomen Backlash & Myth-Information (It’s Math, Really)

If you don’t follow me on Twitter, then you may not have noticed how in love I am with the #YesAllWomen phenomenon. Personally, it became very difficult for me to maintain such conversations when Maya Angelou passed, but despite that, and the hashtag’s bump off the top trends at Twitter, I manage to maintain conversations. (My goal, and yours, should be to talk about the realities of women’s lives daily to ensure the conversations continue. The hatred and misogyny, the misinformation and bad defensive attitudes, they all continue so the conversations must.

Today’s example comes from the Washington Post: One way to end violence against women? Stop taking lovers and get married.

Oh, sure, they went and changed that horrible title & subtitle…

yesallwomen backlash

But that’s not much better, is it?

The general point of view in the article itself is one of victim shaming. Along with that, there’s the whole shaming of single women, especially single mothers (see history of this here). — and the assertion that “single women who date more” are the problem is rife with problems. Simple, obvious problems.

Yes, it may be safer for women (& their children) if they remain with one man — but that’s because the majority of gender-based violence is committed by someone the woman knows. Ditto child abuse. So, even as the percentage of abusive men remains the same, the more men a woman knows, the greater the number of bad men she knows and so grows the likelihood that she will be attacked, raped, abused, etc.  Yup, that’s how math works.

So what W. Bradford Wilcox and Robin Fretwell Wilson proclaim is that women, the victims and potential victims, once, must again, be the ones taught to control rape culture & misogyny. That way, if it happens to them, they are to blame. We give permission to men because the women didn’t protect themselves enough.

Why can’t the men be the ones educated and blamed?

One of the fundamental points of #YesAllWomen is that our culture has it all backwards. The burden should not be on women to take actions to prevent themselves from what men do, but that men need to cut this shit out. And we all need to stop justifying bad & violent behaviors.

Prison Rape Isn’t Entertaining

The Kinsey Institute reminds us that while Orange Is the New Black (OITNB) may be entertaining, it downplays a major issue that occurs not only in female correctional facilities, but in male correctional facilities as well: sexual coercion.

Although research studies vary, rates of sexual victimization in prison may be as high as 41% of prison inmates.

This is why there’s the Prison Rape Elimination Act (Sexual Violence in Correctional Facilities). However, 11 years later, governors won’t comply with the Federal standards meant to prevent sexual assault in prisons; you can sign this petition to move them to do the right thing.


Politicians: Erect & Standing Up, But Not For Women

Maybe you don’t want to call it a “war on women”. Maybe you find the word “war” to be over-the-top, despite the facts regarding bombings, shootings, rape, and other violent attacks against women, including the places where they seek access to medical care. Perhaps you just don’t think that violence is enough to be called a “war”. But what about when you factor in the legislative bombs aimed directly at women here in the USA?

Legislating against women’s rights is at the center of politics. In the past three years, state legislatures in the US have enacted a record-setting 205 restrictions on women’s reproductive rights. That exceeds the total number of such restrictions enacted during the entire previous decade — and that last decade was no small potatoes either. Between 2001 and 2010, states passed 189 abortion restrictions. (Data from a Guttmacher Institute report.)

women's rights restrictions in states

Legislating against women’s rights is so popular right now, that one candidate for congress in Virginia, Richard Black, thinks that marital rape should be legal again, like it was in 1965, and that military rape is “as predictable as human nature”. That says a lot about his nature. And a lot more about a society in which someone espousing such beliefs can run for office.


Maybe 1965 isn’t so far back that we need a stone tablet to mark the date, but we sure are moving backwards.

And all this while, from 2006 to 2011, Medicaid was paying $175 million for 473,620 claims for penis pumps — you know, so men can have sex. Sex that maybe their spouses didn’t want to have. Sex that maybe resulted in unwanted pregnancies, because, you know, birth control isn’t always an option. It’s a limited option with many private insurance companies and with Medicare. And it’s even less likely that your insurance or Medicare will cover an abortion. But let’s just be glad that men not only have the right to those erections but the access to medical help to force those erections too.  Isn’t it nice to know that men are all about standing up for themselves?

Brilliant Comic Highlights the Complexity of Speaking Out About Sexual Assault

Trigger Warning: This post mentions sexual violence, reactions to sexual violence, and victim blaming.

Speaking of sexism and comics, this simple 3 panel webcomic tweeted today by @GirlhoodStudies is alllll kinds of genius. It juxtaposes the kinds of reactions people have to hearing about sexual harrassment and, in doing so, shows the viewer how friggin’ hard to is to talk about sexual violence in a meaningful way – as if we didn’t know that already.

See on

The Cost Of Rape

Below is an image purported to be an actual statement showing the monetary cost of treatment a rape victim receives at a hospital in the United States. While the estimate, or average, financial cost for surviving rape victims vary, especially if the crime is far more violent, the shocking truth is that rape costs victims — all rape victims, be they straight or gay, in urban settings or on reservations, etc. — financially as well as physically and emotionally. This bill doesn’t even show the lost income from missing work, the cost of a new door lock, counseling, etc. This is one reason why the federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), imperfect as they may be, are so important.

Driving Female Victims Crazy

Women, report rape, get labeled as having a mental illness. This isn’t only something that happens in the military, you know; it’s just easier to document this group of women and to hold an institution accountable. At least we hope it will be easier to hold the military accountable for this! However, the rest of us who are victimized aren’t officially given a psychiatric discharge to track.

If we live to tell of the abuses we suffered (and even a one-time assault has abusive consequences from the very persons, places, and institutions we are taught will protect us, provide justice, and support us), we are then treated to the same devices our abusers employed: Isolation.

We are silenced, ostracized, demonized, all but abandoned by a society which would rather believe (if they believe us at all) that we had somehow deserved or at least brought such atrocities — because to think otherwise is to believe that the boogeyman isn’t some stranger under our beds, but rather the man we lay with in our beds. The resulting isolation alone is enough to depress. Yet that isn’t they type of “crazy” they’ll be satisfied with either.

Women need to be put in their place with stronger, more pathological or violent diagnoses, so that we can be even less credible, dismissed completely. We are medicated (if we are white enough) and even institutionalized. There’s a long history of this, which Karen Essex shares:

I read the psychiatric journals of the period, which prescribed bizarre treatments for ladies who were “hysterical,” which usually turned out to mean that they were “excitable in the presence of men.” In many instances, the desire to read all day or engage in intellectual studies, were also regarded as symptoms of mental illness in the female. Young women were committed to asylums for doing cartwheels in mixed company, for desiring sex with someone other than one’s husband, or for staring seductively at a man. Most behavior that showed spunk, spirit, or sexual need, was pathologized.

All sorts of harrowing and torturous cures were developed to “settle” these women – restraints, forced housework (to help them remember their true natures), repeated plunges in ice water, and force-feeding, to name a few. As mental illness in females was thought to originate in the womb, doctors also were obsessed with menstrual cycles, figuring that if a patient’s cycle could be regulated to a strict 28-30 day cycle, the “illness” of wanting to have sex or read books all day, would disappear. Not coincidentally, an irregular cycle was also considered a sign of mental illness and required treatment.

If pure “spirit” or too much personality at odds with a man’s opinion is a problem, just imagine what daring to accuse a man will do to upset the apple cart.

(Absurd medical practices based on the thought that a woman’s menstrual cycle has any connection to her existence in utero, or manipulation of the former can correct the latter aside… If mental illness in women originates in the womb, just try to get insurance to cover that preexisting condition!)

But wait; there’s more.

You can be among the more fortunate of us and have escaped assaults, abuse and violence and still suffer. As I’ve asked before, in a social world of politics & legislation which tries to control us & our bodies, how do we keep perspective, how do we honestly keep our sanity in this mess?

Is simply being a woman in today’s society a reason why so many women, more than men, are medicated? I can feel a reason why more women in my age bracket of “over 45” are feeling crazy– as Angela Davis notes, 40 years later, and so many issues for women’s equality still have not been resolved.

Perhaps this why there’s something called feminist therapy.

Techniques that are used by therapists include helping the client understand the impact of gender roles in their lives, to provide clients with insight into ways social issues affect their problems, to emphasize power differences between men and women in society, to help clients recognize different kinds of power that they possess and how they and others exercise their power.

If your insurance will pay for it, of course.

Oiy, and before anyone whines or complains; I don’t hate men.

Resist, And You Are Called Confrontational. Or Mentally Ill.

Remember the Nirvana song Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle?

Here’s Kurt Cobain’s response to, “So why was Frances Farmer such an inspiration?” (Melody Maker, August 28th, 1993)

“Well, you know, I’d read some books about her and I found her story interesting. She was a very confrontational person.”

Extremely confrontational.

Selfish, maybe. “That’s not what I got from the books I read. Actually, I did from two of the biographies I read about her, but there was one, ‘Shadowland’, the best one, written by this PI from Seattle who researched it for years, and I didn’t get that impression from that one. She was obviously a difficult person, and got more and more difficult as the years went on, as people started to fuck with her more and more.

“I mean, she was institutionalised numerous times and, in the place in Washington where she ended up, the custodians had people lining up all the way through the halls, waiting to rape her. She’d been beaten up and brutally raped for years, every day. She didn’t even have clothes most of the time.

“Courtney especially could relate to Frances Farmer. I made the comparison between the two. When I was reading the book, I realised that this could very well happen to Courtney if things kept going on. There’s only so much a person can take, you know?

“I’ve been told by doctors and psychiatrists that public humiliation is one of the most extreme and hardest things to heal yourself from. It’s as bad as being brutally raped, or witnessing one of your parents murdered in front of your eyes or something like that. It just goes on and on, it grinds into you and it’s so personal.

“And the Frances Farmer thing was a massive conspiracy involving the bourgeois and powerful people in Seattle, especially this one judge who still lives in Seattle to this day. He led this crusade to so humiliate her that she would go insane. In the beginning, she was hospitalised – totally against her will – and she wasn’t even crazy. She got picked up on a drunk driving charge and got committed you know. It was a very scary time to be confrontational.”

Though nothing could excuse what was done to her, even the most reverent accounts of Farmer’s life don’t attempt to deny that she was on extremely difficult person, that her much-vaunted independence often amounted to a ruthless self-interest that left her indifferent to the suffering she caused. So she was no martyr.

But Farmer – beautiful, arrogant, creative, destructive and destroyed –does appear impossibly glamorous, especially from the safe distance of a few decades.

Is that what drew you to her?

“No. No, not at all”

The song, especially if Geffen have the good sense to release it as a single, may succeed in glamorising her.

How would you feel about that?

“I’d feel bad about that. I just simply wanted to remind people of tragedies like that. It’s very real and it can happen. People can be driven insane, they can be given lobotomies and be committed and be put in jails for no reason. I mean, from being this glamorous, talented, well-respected movie star, she ended up being given a lobotomy and working in a Four Seasons restaurant.

“And she hated the Hollywood scene, too, and was very vocal about it, so those people were involved in the conspiracy, too. I just wanted to remind people that it happened and it has happened forever.”

Most of your songs are, in one way or another, about suffering. A popular liberal notion is that suffering ennobles. Do you think there’s any truth to that?

“It can, it can. I think a small amount of suffering is healthy. It makes your character stronger.”

Do you think you’ve suffered on a large or small scale?

“What do you think I think?”

Don’t know.

“I’ve suffered on a large scale but most of the attacks haven’t been on me, they’ve been on someone I’m totally in love with, my best fucking friend is being completely fucking crucified every two months, if not more. I read a negative article about her every two months.”

Why read it? Why torture yourself?

“A lot of the time I can’t escape it because Courtney gets faxes of articles from the publicist all the time. But also it’s a form of protection. It enables you to remember … and to make sure you never deal with those people again. And another reason we like to read it is that we can learn from the criticism, too. If I never read any of the interviews I did, I’d never be able to say ‘Jeez, that was a pretty stupid thing to say. I’d better try to clear that up.’”

I was first introduced to Frances Farmer — and subsequently fell in love with both her and Jessica Lange — in Frances (1982).

The book Cobain “recommends,” Shadowland, by William Arnold, and the ensuing (no pun intended as Arnold sued regarding the film) Lange movie may not be reliable, according to journalist and researcher Jeffrey Kauffman who has spent decades unraveling the Frances Farmer story. However, this doesn’t change much for me.

It’s not that I refuse to accept fact or Kauffman’s research; quite the contrary.  I find all the representations and misrepresentations as detrimental to Farmer as the life she did lead. Mental health, especially then, was not kind, no matter what the ignorant intention. The media has only become worse. Her life as a creative, passionate woman was painful, co-opted.

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.

Mississippi Paper Burning (Hot Vintage Magazine Blog!)

I’ve fallen in love with a newly discovered blog: Visual Arts Library Picture & Periodicals Collections, part of New York’s School of Visual Arts. And not just because David Pemberton, the Periodical/Reference Librarian who runs the blog, linked to my (obsessively detailed) post on The Mentor magazine, either. (Though I am a sucker for librarians and curators — and links don’t exactly hurt.) No, I’m in love with this new-to-me blog because of it’s content.

Sure, the visuals are great — as you’d expect from a visual arts school library. But it’s more than that. It’s the writing. Not just the historical context I crave, but the frank tone I adore. Such as the delightful description of National Lampoon Magazine as having “heaping sides of boob and toilet humor.” (I know I’m a fan of heaping boobs and even side-boob *wink* I’ve even succumb to toilet humor plenty of times.)

But the best part is the mix of selected offerings. Again using the National Lampoon post, look at this gem from the August 1975 issue:

Many of the magazines have embedded publications in them that parody other actual publications, such as this one that is supposed to have been put out by the state of Mississippi Bar Association featuring articles on “Closing Those Loopholes in Mississippi Lynch Law” and “No-Fault Rape–New Concepts to Protect Our Menfolk:”

I’m absolutely dying to read that! I bet most of the satirical messages are still relevant today. But then I love to read what I collect. …How else can I obsessively research it, over-analyze it, blog about it?

No More Wire Hangers, Ever!

I’m invoking the name and memory of Joan Crawford to make a plea for those of you in the US to take action against those who would force women to face the wire hangers of the past.

You must realize that the wealthy will always send their sisters, daughters, wives and girlfriends to other places for safe, legal abortions — even while they seek to deny the rest of us the rights to such “padded hangers.” So even if an abortion is against your morality, if it’s not a choice you could make, recognize the rights each of us has to make our own choices — safe choices which allow for the right to have future children, rather than render ourselves infertile (or worse) by seeking alternatives.

The women are already here, already have rights. Let each woman choose. If you believe it is against God’s will, then let him hand down the decree; you don’t get to play God in the name of preventing others from doing so.

Take action today.

Help Stop the “Stupak on Steroid” Agenda and Sign The Petition to stop the GOP war on women’s health.

For Those Who Think Pin-Ups Are Stuck-Up, I Guess…

A vintage ceramic pinup — pencil holder?! While I struggle with the idea of such a pencil holder, what else could it be?

The seller, luxebetty,shares the following details:

Made in Japan 5 1/2″ tall by 5″ wide and 2″ deep. …holds 6-10 pens, markers or pencils.

So you know luxebetty’s stuck stuff in this pinup’s butt.

While I have no idea to see figurine rape, I kinda want to see the pencils sticking out… Just to see if that’s really the intended purpose.

I struggle with stuff like this; I really do.

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.

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.

Our Hidden Culture Is A Rape Culture

A new video called Our Hidden Culture was put out by Community TV Network (CTVN), a non-profit organization that empowers Chicago youth with training in video and multi-media production. (CTVN’s award-winning TV show, Hard Cover: Voices and Visions of Chicago’s Youth, airs every Monday at 5:30pm and Tuesday at 12:30pm on cable channel CAN TV 19 in Chicago; you can keep up with CTVN at YouTube too.)

In this recent video project, the youth researched the issue of rape & sexual violence and came up with the conclusion that harassment is the root of such evils and that we live in a rape culture.

For some of us, this isn’t so much “our hidden culture” as it is a known fact we suffer & slog through daily; but I applaud these young people for looking at the issue and seeing the problem for what it is.

Many of us readily blame the issues of sexual aggression in music, movies, and “the media in general” on younger people — it’s their dollar most companies seem to seek, and so, in this toxic relationship, these companies say they are just courting our youth with “the language,” “substance,” and “style” that speaks to them at the expense of us all. But it’s clear that our youth is aware of the problem — and that those who aren’t yet aware are fully capable of getting to the root of it all when asked to look at it.

Can complete denunciation & contempt for those individuals & companies who participate in our rape culture be sure to follow? I hope so.

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.

I Interrupt National Romance Week For Some News…

At 8:00 A.M. on Saturday, August 15, 2009, Hope For Healing will be hosting their first ever Blogathon — 24 hours of blogging dedicated to raising awareness of & funds for helping victims of domestic violence. And I’ll be participating.

Twolia has generously & graciously sponsored me for this Blogathon & I’ll do everything I can to stay up & blogging for 24 hours. What can you do?

I’m so glad you asked!

* Read what I have to say (I know it may not be easy to read so many emotional & perhaps depressing posts; but if I’m going to pour my heart out along with educating y’all, it would be nice to know you give a crap!)

* Carry on the conversation: Post comments, Tweet, post/link at your own blog, email links to your friends & family — spread the word & let everyone you know how important the issue of domestic violence is to you and that you think it should matter to everyone else too.

* While I/we search for answers, try searching for something online… At the end of each Blogathon post there will be a special link to — clicking it and performing searches will raise money for HopeForHealing.Org. (Maybe you’ll want to debate me on a point & need some research… Maybe you want to find out just sleep deprivation does, so you’ll better understand the condition of my posts… Maybe you want to see if you can have coffee delivered to me!)

So here’s the deal for this Saturday: I stay up, confessing, educating, ranting (and I bet raving — it will be 24 hours, you know!); you read, you discuss (here, with friends & family at home, &/or out in the internets somewhere), and you perform a search (on any topic you’d like) and I’ll know you give damn about domestic violence.

More about Hope for Healing.Org: A nonprofit located in Strawberry Plains, Tennessee, that works with victims of domestic violence; restores the lives of juvenile offenders; distributes Angel Food, household items and free clothing; and meets some other needs of survivors and their families on a case-by-case basis.

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.

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.

Are Dating Messages Too Ambiguous? And What Does That Mean About Rape?

In the journal Personality and Individual Differences (Volume 47, Issue 2, July 2009, Pages 145-149), T. Joel Wade, Lauren K. Butrie & Kelly M. Hoffman present findings of a study on the male perceptions of women’s opening lines. The study, dissected in further detail at PsyBlog, reveals that men prefer women to be very direct — to the point of being boringly blunt. Ladies should ask a man to dinner (#1) as opposed to asking him if he’s busy that weekend (#6); ask him if he’s got a girlfriend (#2) rather than ask about what shows he’s watched (#5).

But the most surprising finding, at least to PsyBlog, was this:

The only surprise is the low ranking of funny or sexual humour. Men don’t seem to appreciate the lewd come-ons suggested by gender stereotypes. This relatively low rating for a jokey approach is another thing shared by both sexes. Previous work by Bale et al. (2006) found that women weren’t particularly impressed with men trying to be funny, despite what we are often told. It seems opening lines are a serious business for both sexes.

This is not surprising to me or readers of this blog — remember when I told you that men, no matter what they say, do not want sexually aggressive women? But it’s interesting to note for another very important reason…

Remember all that commotion & conversation about Steve Ward’s stupid & misogynistic comment on Vh1’s Tough Love? You know, where supporters of Ward’s and those who blamed the victim in the name of Women’s Safety alike declared that Ward’s statement that Arian “would end up raped if she kept talking like that” was accurate and well-intentioned?

These people believe(d) that his (sometimes even admittedly inept) scare tactic was a tool to get Arian (and others) to “wake up” to reality. Of course, they forget that rape is not an act of “misunderstanding” and “misplaced lust” but one of violence; but we’ll ignore that for now and just look at how this study is more proof that Steve Ward is the tool.

Men (and women too), do not find frank sexual talk and humor to be an arousing come-on; it’s actually more of a turn-off.

So there, ladies and gents, you have more proof that wildly sexual talk is less likely to inspire a man to think she’s into him than if she has asked him out to dinner.

And, just to be clear, asking a man to dinner is not a signal for rape. (Heaven help me if any of you argue that point!)

No word, still, on just how direct a woman has to be to communicate that No means No.

So I am still left badgering the point that society needs to condemn acts of sexual violence. We’ll need to say it loud and clear, of course.

Perhaps by way of introduction. “Hi, I’m Alessia and sexual assault and domestic violence are not acceptable.”

I think I’ll get that made on a t-shirt.

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.

Follow Up On Tough Love Rape Stance

If you’ve been living under a rock and somehow missed the slimy activities going on with Steve Ward and VH1’s Tough Love show…

It starts here, with Giving Steve Ward & VH1 Some Tough Love Of My Own, continues with More On Moron Steve Ward & The Rape Issue & Mommy, Make The Bad Man Stop, and, frustrated with all that, I then directed you to contact the producers etc.

I’ve been contacting them all, one by one, and thought you might be interested in my progress…

First I contacted Flower Films, the commercial film production company founded by Drew Barrymore & Nancy Juvonen which is a partner in Tough Love‘s production. If you thought for just one moment that being “woman owned” would make the company receptive to this issue of blaming women for rape you’d be dead wrong.

During a phone conversation last week, with a woman who refused to give her name, I was told that “all complaints/comments are to be posted to VH1’s blog.” When I explained that this had been done, but Ward was only continuing his misogynistic statements, I was told, “We read the blogs, we are aware.” I’ll admit, that set me back a bit, so I countered with a, “Don’t you wish to make a public statement to at least clarify Flower Films’ views — to separate them from those of Ward?” Her reply was to say that there would be “no statement on the subject” and I was dismissed.

Can you feel my hackles rise?


Next I contacted the other production partner in the making of the show, High Noon Entertainment “one of America’s largest creators of unscripted television.”

There I spoke with Paul Taylor, Executive In Charge Of Production, who began by plainly & dismissively informing me that they had “been in touch with their legal department and they were protected.” Because, you know, the litigious are all they ought to be worried about.

I countered by restating my concerns for the perpetuation of misogynistic rape mythology; he countered with, “Well, you know, VH1 is a controversial network…”

So profiting from dangerous myth-information is a-OK?

Ready to spew (both anger and vomit), I thought about High Noon Entertainment’s primary concern regarding legal action… They have a legal team & they know how to use it — which is not the case for victims of rape. That smug “been in touch with legal & we’re protected” line…

Well, if that was their line then I was going to jerk it.

So I told Mr. Taylor that next on my list was to inform those involved in the federal lawsuit regarding trademark infringement, trademark dilution and related claims against MTV Networks, Drew Barrymore’s Flower Films and High Noon Entertainment based on the unauthorized use of the trademark “Tough Love,” of which Toughlove America is the exclusive licensee. (See details here.) He interrupted, countering with noise about how unfounded the lawsuit was — so I interrupted right back with an, “Oh, given that the lawsuit expressly states a desire to collect damages for the harm being done to their brand by the show’s use of the name, I imagine that they’d be interested to know just how many of us are now associating the phrase “tough love” with blaming rape victims.”

Now I had more of Paul’s attention. He wasn’t quite conceding anything, mind you, but he was now actively asking questions, such as my name, my telephone number, and the name and location of this blog. (I cooperated fully — and I totally welcome any further contact, should it occur.)

Feeling that perhaps he had moved past the party-line deafness and that he might just hear me now, I reiterated my concerns about Ward’s statements especially in light of the interviews Ward has done. In the interviews since the show aired and we responded, he’s defending his beliefs, not budging an inch; antagonizing, not apologizing.

Either Taylor began to hear my concerns or he’s just really good at the old “neutralize a complainer by being a good listener” thing because we ended the call with Taylor informing me that he would share my concerns but, due to a staff wedding that week, I likely wouldn’t hear from anyone until this week.

Not that I’m holding my breath.

But I will call back, Mr. Taylor, to see just what High Noon Entertainment intends to do about this mess Steve Ward has gotten them into.

And when I do, I’ll share it with you. As I will all my contact with those involved with this issue.

Now I have to go puke. Again.

Enough Is Enough

Now that Steve Ward & VH1 have shown us their true colors, showing indifference to concerns of misogyny and perpetuating inaccurate information which could add to the danger of women and other victims of rape, we must take action.

Before I urged you to contact VH1 via their blog and Ward at his Match Makers website, and Marge has suggested emailing VH1 at; but as we’re not making enough of an impact with those methods…

Flower Films and High Noon Entertainment are partners with VH1 to produce VH1 Tough Love. High Noon Entertainment is one of America’s largest creators of unscripted television, and Flower Films is a commercial film production company founded by Drew Barrymore & Nancy Juvonen.

Here’s how you contact them:

Flower Films
7360 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90046
Phone: 323-876-7400
Fax: 323-876-7401

High Noon Entertainment
12233 W. Olympic Blvd
Ste 328
Los Angeles, CA 90064
Phone: 310-820-7500

Jeff Olde is the Executive Vice President in charge of Original Programming and Production at VH1.

VH1 Television
2600 Colorado Ave.
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Phn: 310-752-8000

VH1 Television
1515 Broadway
New York, NY 10036
Phone: 212-846-6000

Also, Toughlove(R) America, LLC filed a lawsuit in federal court in Los Angeles on March 4th for trademark infringement, trademark dilution and related claims against MTV Networks, Drew Barrymore’s Flower Films and High Noon Entertainment based on the defendants’ unauthorized use of the trademark “Tough Love,” of which Toughlove America is the exclusive licensee.

Igal J. Feibush, the company’s CEO said, “We believe that the actions of MTV/VH1 constitute a clear violation of our federal and state intellectual property rights. We have always vigilantly protected both our mark and the integrity of our proprietary program. With this lawsuit, we intend to stop VH1 from continuing to use our name and to collect damages for the harm being done to our brand by their use of it.” Toughlove America has stopped other media companies, including Sony Corporation and News Corporation, from using its trademark.

I’m sure they’d like to know that we think the show & it’s name are linked with misogyny and rape; that ought to raise damages.

Especially as Toughlove America has plans for its own show.

Matthew Lifschultz, Partner of Toughlove America, LLC

William J. Robinson and Miriam Claire Beezy, partners in the Los Angeles office of Foley & Lardner LLP, are representing Toughlove America, LLC in the action:

William J. Robinson

Miriam Claire Beezy

As you can see, I’m no longer messing around; I’m furious & I’m serious.

I am working on a list of VH1 advertisers too; any/all help is appreciated — as are all your letters, emails and calls of outrage.

PS Steve Ward is also, apparently, on Twitter: @stevenbward.