Republicans Retreat on Domestic Violence – NYTimes.com

Republicans Retreat on Domestic Violence – NYTimes.com

If you are a Republican, or live in an area where your political representatives have opposed the Violence Against Women Act, I would encourage you to contact your senator and congressman/woman to urge them to vote for VAWA. Find your House and Senate representatives (check your state for your local Congress members).

This bill is S. 1925 To Reauthorize VAWA. It has passed in its committee by a narrow margin (10 to 8) and now has to go through the House and Senate. If current voting patterns don’t change, it will not pass. Senator Chuck Grassley is proposing a different form to replace VAWA — one which weakens its power, lowers its funding significantly, and significantly leaves out certain groups of women.

You can click on your representative’s name in this list, go to the bottom of the page under “External Links,” and find the official’s own web page. That’s where information should be posted on how this official has voted on VAWA, in the past and in the present.

Here is more information about individuals voting for/against VAWA:

Supporters and opponents

VAWA update (as of February 2, 2011)

Congress is comprised of the House + the Senate. So your state should have one or more members of the Senate, and one or more members of the House. These are the people to contact — your representatives who vote for/against VAWA.

Read the VAWA link I posted above; it will bullet-list many of the specific goals that VAWA has accomplished in the lives of victims of violence of both sexes.

It has passed overwhelmingly in 2000 and 2005 in Congress, and it should have passed easily again this year. We can only speculate as to why these leaders have changed their minds on an act that has done so much good for so many.

VAWA has accomplished what it was passed to do, and that is not something you can say about every act of Congress. We must keep it going to support victims of sexual violence, domestic violence, stalking, and other crimes.

Thanks for contacting your local Congressional representative to support VAWA.  I am thanking you personally and on behalf of others I know who are grateful for VAWA and the difference it has made in their lives. VAWA is a lifeline, and it works.

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New “Ebony” Article: Stop Telling Women How to Not Get Raped

We’re going back to our roots with several posts here; this blog originally launched as a resource for female rape survivors. We’ll continue to offer that and much more.

It is so refreshing to see this article title! Granted, we don’t even reach five comments before someone starts trolling, but people were able to keep the comments focused for that first page. I didn’t read comments beyond that.

If you are a male rape survivor reading this, you are not alone and not left out. Read this past blog post specifically for you (and there are others).

Rape: What We’re Doing Right, What We’re Doing Wrong

Right

Wrong

  • Defining rape as a non-economic violent crime (U.S. Supreme Court, 2000)
  • Rape shield law loopholes (examples here — see paragraphs 3 and 4 — and here)

Nuts and Sluts: The Ways We Dismiss Rape

Dismissing Female Rape Victims

Nuts: Women are crazy. They lie for fun. They lie just to destroy men. They lie for money. They lie for no reason at all. They’re emotional. They’re irrational. They’re unpredictable. They don’t even know what they think. They change their minds all the time. They change their minds in the middle of sex. They’re nuts.

Sluts: Women are insatiable. Oh they want it, but society doesn’t let them be sexually aggressive, so they expect men to be aggressive and come after them, and then they blame men for raping them. Virgins really want it bad. Lesbians really want to have sex with men. Lesbians just need a good **** to cure them. Women just need a good **** to cure them. She had it coming. She wanted it. She asked for it. She smiled at him — she was obviously looking for it. She wore that outfit — she was obviously looking for it. She flirted — she was obviously looking for it. She went home with him — she was obviously looking for it. She let him buy her a drink, dinner, a present — she was obviously looking for it. I bet she feels lucky just to get some. I bet that’s the only way she can get any. You know that one — she’ll spread her legs for anybody. She’s been with every guy in school. At the bar. At church. At work. You know how she got that promotion, right? They’ll all give it up for money. They’re sluts.

Dismissing Male Rape Victims

He’s a homo now. He was a homo before anyway. Men always want sex. What’s the matter with you? You some kind of girly-man? Don’t you want sex? He must not be getting laid — good thing she stepped in. What did she do, beat him up? Overpower him? He’s a weakling. He’s a pussy. It’s just sex.

Men Can Be Raped Too (Now That The FBI Says It’s So)

We’ve gone from this

…to this.

Progress is being made. It’s about time!

To not count male rape in rape statistics is ludicrous. It reflects a willful prejudiced ignorance whose results have been evil in the lives of thousands upon thousands of innocent men.

I am also incredibly pleased by the widening of the definition of rape to include, oh, all kinds of rape. (Who’da thunk it?) No longer will the numbers say that only some rape survivors were raped. Only now can we begin to get a more accurate sense of the rape rate in this country.

Shame on the FBI for taking so long to fix this, but kudos to today’s FBI for fixing it. Keep it up.

 

Online Safety for Women Bloggers

New category on this blog: Internet safety. We’ll be exploring many facets of this category on the blog in the future. Today, we’ll talk about women bloggers, safety, hate speech, and freedom of speech.

The Experience of Women Bloggers

What happens

Women who blog have been routinely subjected to the kind of sexually based slurs and threats that it’s hard to imagine. If you read the comments section in women’s blogs, you will almost invariably see some sort of slur based purely on the blogger’s sex. This is after she has filtered the comments and not let the worst ones through. When a woman who blogs gets threats through the blog that someone should/wants to/is planning to rape her, mutilate her, or kill her, we have a safety issue.

A typical reaction

It’s very easy for those who don’t face this type of reaction to say, “Well, men get slammed and criticized in their blogs, too. If women can’t take it, they should just get off the Internet.” These aren’t bad people; they’re simply unaware of how different, and how awful, the comments really are on women’s blogs. Whether they’re interested in finding this out is an individual decision.

To equate the garden-variety insults and trolling that everyone gets with the gender-based, women-hating comments that show up on women’s blogs is to be entirely out of touch with what’s really happening. In women’s blogs, these comments are not merely mean naughty insults that hurt people’s fee-fees. They are vile, threatening, and chilling.

Examples

Some articles and real-life examples here and here and here and here. There are many more available with a quick Internet search. See whether these comments toward women look really similar to what you see in the comments section of the typical male blogger. He may get called out on wrong info, heavily engaged on his opinion of the issues, or even called names. But he will probably not have his home address posted in the comments alongside a threat to come and rape him, described graphically and in detail.

Free speech vs. hate speech

Efforts are being made to address this problem, but nothing that would abridge free speech — women bloggers don’t want free speech abridged. They just want to be safe and not have to deal with out-of-control, filthy verbal hatred. The challenge women face on the Internet is that they believe in free speech — even if it means a certain group consistently comes on their blogs and attacks them for being women. The problem is what to do when free speech on a woman’s blog so often devolves into vituperation, filth, and hatred from a small but vocal minority, for no other reason than that the blogger is female. The targeting is very specific — women.

Women bloggers will tell you from wisdom and experience that there’s no point in engaging these haters; they won’t change and it will only intensify their threats and the sick cruelty of their comments on the blog.

The only real solution is to block their comments or IP, and many women bloggers find that a number of haters simply sign up for another email account or uses another computer and come right back. In the meantime, more haters have found the blog by then. So she’s dealing with a constant stream of the worst ideas that can come into the heads of woman-haters. And the worst ideas are as bad as you can imagine.

But when do threats cross over into real danger? At what point does vituperative gender-based venting become hate speech? Many women bloggers can answer that question specifically, using comments on their own blogs as examples. But because we all –women included — want the Internet to continue to be a free and open exchange, we all — men included — face this problem.

Until men as a gender realize and accept the level of hate and danger that women bloggers as a gender face, we won’t all be united in combating people whose hate seems to utterly control them. I think many people don’t realize just how much those few bad eggs really, really, really hate women.

But it’s just talk

It may only be a matter of time before we start seeing news stories of these threats being actually carried out. It is my own hope that the haters are cowards who spew bile and muck online but won’t take action. Even so, no one should have to tolerate that kind of unbridled hate speech. And it is hate speech, even if in the interest of free speech we never decide to classify it that way. We, all of us, don’t want to find out whether a threat is credible only by reading about it afterward in the next morning’s paper.

Ideally, people would want to mature, would get psychological help, would do whatever it took to work past their hatred of women so that we didn’t have this terrible choice between free speech and just spewing uncontrolled hatred on women bloggers. I believe, and other women have said, that free speech is more important.

It’s shameful that a small group has to pay such a high price on behalf of everyone online in order to help preserve free speech. And women bloggers are paying that price to support free speech, in which they firmly believe. It would be great for them to hear and know that others are cognizant of the price they’re paying and the hatred and danger they’re coping with in order to make sure we all have a free place to speak and be heard — even those who post hate speech and least deserve that freedom.

Take a first step

What can we do? This is not a rhetorical question, but a real one. I’d like to hear your ideas, suggestions, and comments. (Be forewarned that comments that dismiss, derail, blame, or are hostile will not be posted.) We’re looking for comments here that are productive, generate more thinking and ideas, and/or support bloggers who have experienced this level of hatred and hostility. So really, what can we do to combat this?

Thanks, bloggers! You rock.

New Stuff in the Media

Today I have time to post some articles and things that are relevant to the topics we discuss here. I collect links to data, articles, and resources that would be good to use on this blog, so you may see some of these materials explored more in 2012 posts. Survivors, please note that there may possibly be triggers in these pieces, especially in the comments sections.

Thanks for checking in today. The next installment of the series on what to do if you suspect your SO of sexually assaulting a child is in progress and should be up by the end of the evening today. (I go late into the evening.)