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Toronto Police representative Michael Sanguinetti’s words of wisdom to students at York University in January that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized” was the basis for Sunday’s inaugural “SlutWalk,” drawing close to 1000 men and women fed up with institutionalized victim-blaming and shaming.
From the SlutWalk site:
Historically, the term ‘slut’ has carried a predominantly negative connotation. Aimed at those who are sexually promiscuous, be it for work or pleasure, it has primarily been women who have suffered under the burden of this label. And whether dished out as a serious indictment of one’s character or merely as a flippant insult, the intent behind the word is always to wound, so we’re taking it back. “Slut” is being re-appropriated.
Watch MoxNews.com’s report here:
In a post yesterday about New York Times’ coverage of the corpses found on Long Island and the ongoing search for a missing woman, we looked at how reporters Joseph Goldstein and Tim Stelloh’s use of “missing prostitute” instead of “missing woman” in their lead sentence subtly casts a non-unbiased view on the article from the get-go, identifying the missing woman by her profession without good reason to do so.
CNN.com also reported on the crimes, using “four dead prostitutes” in their second paragraph prematurely before explaining how police believe the bodies are connected and why the women’s professions need be mentioned.
We are happy to report that CNN.com HAS CHANGED this sentence and it now reads “four corpses”.
Thank you, CNN, for fair coverage of a tragic story as it unfolds, and your prompt remedy of a careless mistake.
Update: Associated Press released an article by Frank Eltman, who goes hog wild with the word “prostitute,” which FoxNews.com appropriated and elevated to an even higher level of sleaziness by changing its headline to include the word yet one more time where it wasn’t already. Our favorite line, though, is this one:
“The four dead prostitutes were found amid a 4-foot-tall tangle of sea grass punctuated by scrubby pine trees.”
Four dead prostitutes…is that like three blind mice and four calling birds and two turtle doves?? Scrubby pine trees? How many?
You would think the most important part of this whole story is that the women involved sold sex for money, not that there is a serial killer on the loose whose private activities—we’re willing to bet—are gravely more controversial.
By VIOLET KITTAPPA
MTA’s “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign will now include a call to action for bystanders who witness inappropriate sexual conduct, taking the sole responsibility for reporting the crimes off of the victim.
Until now, subway announcements have stated that a crowded train is no defense to unlawful sexual conduct and ask that victims of a crime notify the MTA or a police officer. Announcements will now read:
“Ladies and gentlemen. A crowded subway is no defense to unlawful sexual conduct. If you believe that you have been the victim of a crime, or witness to a crime, notify an MTA Employee or Police Officer.”
Assemblymember Deborah Glick is behind this new initiative, and Hollaback has found in her a new HollaHERO:
“The burden of reporting sexual harassment shouldn’t alone fall on the shoulders of victims and I am happy to report that it no longer will,” says Glick.
Remember that sicko we wrote about a week ago? The “journalist” who published his desire to meet and ass rape a Hollaback activist? Well he still has his job. What can you do about it? Sign our petition. The editorial teams of all the publications he works for receive a notification email every time you and your friends sign it. They may come to realize that publishing his trashy internet rants aren’t worth the price they pay from all the negative attention we garner for them. Please sign it today and let your friends know to do the same.
A new film by Lynn Glazier, Wired for Sex, Lies and Power Trips: It’s a Teen’s World, turns to three diverse groups of Toronto teens for answers on how social networking, online technology, and media are shaping and molding our views on sex and women.
Told through the real voices of teens, this essential tool for promoting awareness and change is must-see viewing for school and youth groups, media studies and women’s studies educators, educators, counselors, parents, and health care professionals. Order a copy here.
By VIOLET KITTAPPA
Congratulations to our comrades in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
The Patriot-News reports that 150 students at Dickinson College have been protesting since Wednesday, demanding that campus sexual assaults be broadcast through the college’s Red Alert system in real time and that perpetrators of catcalls and lewd comments are disciplined.
The article reports that President Bill Durden agreed to study student requests, if they agreed to one of his own: ‘to tackle campus alcohol abuse and incivility that contribute to safety problems’, throwing the old red herring into the discussion to avoid just focusing on the problem.
You want that whole ‘can’t murder people on campus’ law thing to be enforced? FINE. But first, do me a favor by not abusing alcohol.
Hey, Bill Durden, sexual assault is a crime. Period. How about you just tackle that first, then we can talk about addressing incivility.
From the desk of global think-tank State Rep Bobby Franklin comes a bold, useful new idea Georgia taxpayers have been waiting for. The same thought leader that brought us House Bill 14—a bill proposing that victims of rape be referred to as “accusers” of rape until the defendant is found guilty—Bobby Franklin’s new bill would require women to file a police report when they miscarry. If the womb is determined to be a potential crime scene, its female owner could be arrested for murder.
But does this law go far enough?
Franklin’s degree in Biblical Studies from Convenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia has bequeathed him the medical superpowers necessary to come up with this scientifically astounding womb-murder theory but his hypothesis leaves out one central question that my degree in Murder Mystery Novels Studies with Online Google Medical Diagnosis Certificate tells me is a valid concern: What about bad jizz?
Therefore, please join us in petitioning Mr. Franklin to hear our voices from around the world. We, the constituents of Hollaback International, would like to propose an amendment to your bill, Mr. Franklin sir. In addition to criminalizing women for inhospitable tubes, channels, and uteri, we would also like to ask that the bill specifically address and include penalties for male owners of FAULTY SEMEN, corn syrup sperm, whatever you want to call it. Many of us who have spent years trying to conceive and carry to term cannot be expected to shoulder the full blame: where is justice for the male owners of tadpoles that just can’t—or won’t—perform? Where is the outrage?
And while we’re at it, we would like to call God to the bench, too. He is probably in on this conspiracy to murder sperm and fertilized eggs, just like he does every day with thousands of people around the world. He murdered my grandma with cancer, my grandfather with a heart attack, my great grandfather with old age, my great grandmother with pneumonia, my great great grandparents with health problems, my ancestors with sickness, their ancestors with illness, their ancestors with other sickness, more ancestors with still more illness and death, the dinosaurs with global climate change, supernova stars with explosion-murders and so on and so forth. There is absolutely no justice for God the murderer. Is there no justice in this world at all?
For a template you can use to send Bobby Franklin your warmest regards, please see here.
In more of what we’ve seen all week from media across the board, Bill Maher spent a considerable amount of his February 19 show cheaply exploiting Lara Logan’s Cairo assault by trying to convince a leery audience that middle eastern men are more sexist than American men, citing an example of a Muslim man in New York who beheaded his wife.
Distracting audience and viewer attention away from a real look at sexual violence by indulging in “this is why we’re better than them” rhetoric and wild goose chase examples of misogyny to support his hypothesis, Bill used TV privilege to assert his own ethnocentric agenda.
“…talk to women who have ever dated an Arab man—the reviews are not good.”
“I’m not pre-judging, I’m judging. They’re worse, what’s wrong with just saying that?”
Oh Bill, your male superiority complex just isn’t relevant.
Continuing on, Bill waxed proudly that American women are privileged to worry about things like equal pay and whether or not someone calls them names.
Thank goodness Tavis Smiley jumped in as a voice of reason, telling Bill that it’s not about who is better or less sexist but about really looking at the problem, pointing out that three inches of a knife blade in his back as opposed to eight inches is still a knife blade in his back.
C’mon, Bill, replacing sexism with racism is not a proper hollaback. And replacing sexism with more sexism isn’t either.
By VIOLET KITTAPPA
Much of the media attention this week on the sexual assault committed against reporter Lara Logan in Cairo has been filled with two strains of hatred—misogyny and racism—and supported by ill-informed and undeserved measures of American superiority in gender equality. In place of meaningful examination of the crime has been flippant commentary from sources we’d hope have a better understanding of the real situation, not least among them Nir Rosen and Simone Wilson.
In an effort to denounce what happened to Logan, many commentators have lazily used one Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights statistic on the prevalence of harassment in Cairo over and over again, omitting statistics from other sources showing equal and larger numbers of women being harassed in America, Japan, France, Argentina, Jordan, Australia, and England, to name a few—barely stopping short of saying, But that would never happen here.
Others have indulged in waxing proudly on the freedoms afforded American women, using mainstream media’s favorite defense mechanism—ethnocentrism. Poorly.
“How many Bahrainian women, after all,” wrote the Atlantic’s Andrew Sullivan, “would produce an ass-cam video,” referring to an irrelevant YouTube clip, sending readers off googling ‘ass-cam’ and thinking about all of the ways in which Egyptian and American societies are different, instead of prompting them to ask why rape is happening in both places, and what part of our society is so broken that it can’t been fixed?
Because it does happen here.
What better ‘American’ example than Woodstock 1999, where four women experienced sustained sexual assaults and rape during daylight music sets on festival grounds packed with Pepsi products, ATMs, and MTV cameras.
During the 2000 Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City, a 29 year-old kickboxing instructor named Anne Peyton Bryant, out for some afternoon rollerblading along Central Park South, was doused in water and beer, shoved to the ground, groped, and partially stripped of her clothing. An eighteen year old nearby had her underwear ripped off and was raped by finger while the men screamed, chanted, and cheered their fellows on. Bryant fled her attackers as the crowd moved on to assault dozens of other women, and tried in vain to capture the attention of police officers assigned to the area sitting on the steps of the nearby Plaza hotel. She was told to come back and file a report when she had calmed down a bit.
Thirty men were indicted in the case on felony sex abuse, rioting, and assault charges, including a 14 year old boy. Among the worst offenders was the younger brother of a NYC cop who took part in more than 15 of the assaults. Bryant became the mouthpiece for the events that day, enrolling in law school, speaking publicly about what happened to her, and filing charges against the city and NYPD for failing to respond to her pleas for help. Seven years after the crimes, she settled for $125,000.
So Logan’s assault is not an isolated or uniquely Egyptian incident. Failing to acknowledge our own widespread, homegrown brand of misogyny ensures that the anger and hatred behind these acts of sexual violence will continue to exist unchecked. Subverted public opinion borne of sloppy language choice and hateful media commentary ensures we’re busy reading whatever afternoon doldrums-inspired rant some journalist with a return key could spit out instead of considering what sorts of social programs and comprehensive government-backed studies will be required to remediate our own rape culture.
When we include the color of a journalist’s hair and details of her sex life alongside coverage of her sexual assault, what we are effectively telling the American public is that she asked for it. And when we half-heartedly try to convince anyone that we’re lucky to be female in America and not Egypt, we draw an unfair comparison and avoid solving the problem, perpetuating the same crimes of which we write.