It’s On Us


It’s on us—all of us—to stop sexual assault.

Learn what you can do and take the pledge to be part of the solution at It’s On Us, a national campaign to end sexual assault.

If you’ve experienced sexual assault, please visit www.notalone.gov for resources.

 

Till death do us part: Violence against women in So. Carolina


A Special Investigation from The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C.
By Doug Pardue, Glenn Smith, Jennifer Berry Hawes and Natalie Caula Hauff

 

More than 300 women were shot, stabbed, strangled, beaten, bludgeoned or burned to death over the past decade by men in South Carolina, dying at a rate of one every 12 days while the state does little to stem the carnage from domestic abuse.

More than three times as many women have died here at the hands of current or former lovers than the number of Palmetto State soldiers killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined.

It’s a staggering toll that for more than 15 years has placed South Carolina among the top 10 states nationally in the rate of women killed by men. The state topped the list on three occasions, including this past year, when it posted a murder rate for women that was more than double the national rate.

Awash in guns, saddled with ineffective laws and lacking enough shelters for the battered, South Carolina is a state where the deck is stacked against women trapped in the cycle of abuse, a Post and Courier investigation has found.

Couple this with deep-rooted beliefs about the sanctity of marriage and the place of women in the home, and the vows “till death do us part” take on a sinister tone. …

Click here to read the series and watch related videos.

I didn’t ask for the anal probe*


By Kit-Bacon Gressitt
24 Feb 2013

In the realm of women and their pregnancies, there are two basic types of ultrasounds. There’s the type folks commonly think of being performed on a pregnant woman’s belly. This type entails the jelly, the transducer that fits in the palm of the technician’s hand, the screen with the captured image of a fetus, and the proud parental assumption that that shadowy oblong shape is the biggest penis ever seen on a fetus. Nonetheless, it’s a sweetly benign image, stereotyped in popular media and other fantasies.

Of course, such external ultrasounds are used to view inside many parts of the body and for a grand variety of diagnostic purposes.

But there’s another type that’s not so warm and fuzzy: Transvaginal ultrasounds involve a darn long probe that is inserted into a woman’s vagina to capture images. In normal pregnancies, transvaginal ultrasounds are not typically necessary, although, if there’s some concern in very early-term pregnancies, they are sometimes used because the jelly-on-the-belly type ultrasound cannot capture an image clear enough for diagnostic purposes until the fetus is more developed.

Other times, transvaginal ultrasounds are not diagnostic at all: Instead, legislators who are opposed to legal abortion have passed, or have attempted to pass, legislation that forces women seeking abortions to undergo medically unnecessary transvaginal ultrasounds. In these cases, the obvious purpose is to discourage abortions. The Guttmacher Institute reports on such legislation, and, along with other measures intended to reduce or prevent access to legal abortion, these efforts are plentiful and they often work.

To some women, the prospect of a transvaginal ultrasound is adequately intimidating or degrading or expensive, to send them home without the abortions they seek. Others gird transvaginal_machine-22098their loins and go forward, exercising their reproductive rights while railing at the elected officials who would intervene in their nether regions. And some women consider having their vaginas penetrated by a stranger against their will, and without medical necessity, rape.

I am unable to disagree with them. However, the legislators and anti-abortion activists who would force such unnecessary transvaginal ultrasounds on women insist they are not rape, but, rather, demonstrations of their deep concern for women’s safety. I am unable to agree with them.

Recently, Indiana State Senator Travis Holdman (R) introduced Senate Bill 371, which would require two ultrasounds for women prescribed the oral drug RU-486 to terminate their pregnancies. The first ultrasound would be performed before the drug’s administration, to confirm the pregnancy, and the second one, afterward, to confirm that the abortion was successful. But, because RU-486 can only be used in very early-term pregnancies, when a “jelly-on-the-belly” ultrasound cannot produce a clear image, Holdman’s bill essentially mandates two medically unnecessary transvaginal ultrasounds.

His rationale for the bill? That the ultrasounds will ensure women’s safety. Quelle surprise!

I suspect the truth is that Holdman and the members of the Indiana Senate Health and Provider Services Committee who voted for SB 371, sending it to the full Senate for a vote, really just want to stick it—figuratively and literally—to women who wish to terminate their pregnancies.

I wonder, though, if the female senators who voted for SB 371 might feel differently if they were forced to be probed vaginally to determine pregnancy before being prescribed oral contraception, because there’s a teeny tiny little risk that birth control pills can affect a fetus.

And I wonder if the male committee members might be similarly swayed, were they facing forced transrectal ultrasound probes before they could be prescribed erectile dysfunction drugs.

It’s a safe assumption that Indiana’s state legislators don’t want an unwelcomed appliance forced into their bodily orifices, any more than women seeking abortions do. But those who would force women to be subjected to transvaginal probes, might benefit from having intimate knowledge of the invasive procedure before casting their votes on SB 371.

Perhaps anal or vaginal probes should be a mandated prerequisite for voting in support of SB 371.

If you’d like to share your thoughts about SB 371 with Sen. Holdman, you can email his office at Senator.Holdman@iga.in.gov or use this form (if you don’t have an address in his district, his office address will make it more likely that your email message will transmit: 2467 W. 1000 North, Markle, IN 46770).

Love,
K-B

* This phrase is a wee bit of appropriation from the film Passion Fish.

Also published by San Diego gay & Lesbian News.

V-Day – Until the Violence Stops


V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls.

Today, one billion people are rising up to demand an end to violence.

Because around the globe, 1 in 3 females will be raped or beaten in her lifetime.

Demand an end to violence. Don’t ignore it. Don’t perpetrate it. Report it. Get help.

ABOUT ONE BILLION RISING

ONE IN THREE WOMEN ON THE PLANET WILL BE RAPED OR BEATEN IN HER LIFETIME.

ONE BILLION WOMEN VIOLATED IS AN ATROCITY

ONE BILLION WOMEN DANCING IS A REVOLUTION

On V-Day’s 15th Anniversary, 14 February 2013, we are inviting ONE BILLION women and those who love them to WALK OUT, DANCE, RISE UP, and DEMAND an end to this violence. ONE BILLION RISING will move the earth, activating women and men across every country. V-Day wants the world to see our collective strength, our numbers, our solidarity across borders.

What does ONE BILLION look like? On 14 February 2013, it will look like a REVOLUTION.

ONE BILLION RISING IS:

A global strike
An invitation to dance
A call to men and women to refuse to participate in the status quo until rape and rape culture ends
An act of solidarity, demonstrating to women the commonality of their struggles and their power in numbers
A refusal to accept violence against women and girls as a given
A new time and a new way of being

How can women vote for Romney?


By Kit-Bacon Gressitt

“How can women possibly vote for Romney and Ryan?” She looked dismayed, my friend, and I understood how she felt.

How indeed, with the 2012 campaigns’ incessant flow of prejudicial comments spewing from white, male Republican mouths to splatter women with such idiotic statements as, abortion is never medically necessary to save a woman’s life and “Health of the mother has become a tool for abortions anytime, under any reason” (Rep. Joe Walsh, running for re-election); pregnancy that results from rape is a “gift from God” (Richard Mourdock, U.S. Senate candidate*); “forcible rape” is just “stock language” (Rep. Paul Ryan, vice presidential candidate); “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down” (Rep. Todd Akin, running for U.S. Senate); “Back in my days, they used Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly” (Foster Friess, major Republican donor); as governor of Massachusetts he had to rely on “binders full of women” from women’s groups because he didn’t know any qualified women to appoint to his cabinet (Mitt Romney, candidate for president); “some girls, they rape easy” (Roger Rivard, Wisconsin state legislator); and on and on and on and on — with all that, how can any woman vote for the Romney-Ryan ticket?

A ticket, by the way, that perfunctorily rejects other folks’ anti-woman words while defending their own “misspeaks” and continuing to support the ideology that spawns every patriarchal word they’ve all uttered and will inevitably continue to utter because they are such, well, such purveyors of sexist piggery! How can women vote for Romney and Ryan, who are so eagerly rutting around the Republican campaign sty, in anticipation of using the nation’s highest office to directly and indirectly trample the advances that women (along with people of color and the LGBT community) have made in the last 40 years toward pay equity, equal access to housing, jobs, education, military service and parental rights, and reproductive justice — the right to contraception, to basic women’s healthcare, to abortion?

Women supporting Romney-Ryan is akin to LGBT groups endorsing the Republican ticket. Which, oops, Log Cabin Republicans (LCR) did last week, eliciting scathing condemnation from much of the rest of the LGBT community. LCR reported that its decision was based on the economy, the same argument I hear from my female friends who plan to vote for Romney. But their belief that Romney would improve their particular economic situations, or the nation’s, is unfathomable given Romney’s overt alignment with the elite class and corporate agendas. What, do they think he’s suddenly transforming into an egalitarian?

As Romney lobs his new favorite Obama slam, blaming the president for the supposedly false fix of “trickle-down government” (which, unbeknownst to Romney, is what government dollars ought to do), you might remember that the basis of Romney’s plan for economic recovery is Reaganomics, the “trickle-down theory” — giving tax breaks to corporations and the elite, so they can then pay more of us to take two or three part-time, unbenefited jobs manufacturing their widgets and scrubbing their toilets. Oh goodie.

Trickle-down economics didn’t work for the Reagan administration: Deregulation of industry, cuts to taxes and consequently social services and education, increasing debt, and the loss of high-wage jobs replaced with low-wage jobs, battered the working class — and women in particular.

Does anyone really think that Romney’s policy will be any more effective than Reagan’s — or Obama’s? They obviously want to believe it, but do they really think it?

Frankly, I’m not sure what they are thinking, these women who support Romney. Have they succumbed to the faithful admonition from the pulpit to vote as their spiritual leaders dictate? Are they saving their jobs from threatening bosses? Are they on the amorphous family values bandwagon or over-eager to possess guns? Do they actually believe Obama is a non-native Muslim communist? Is it bigotry, pure and simple?

Or have they acquiesced to the pounding repetition that women’s issues are less important than economic issues? And I wish it were needless to say but it isn’t: Not only family planning, but also pay equity, affordable education loans and child care, sexual harassment, fair housing, education and employment — these women’s issue are economic issues, the two are inseparable.

But beating the denial drum has convinced some women to swallow the patriarchal bait. And, with my friend practically frothing at the mouth, I figured examining the women who’ve landed in Romney’s creel could prove enlightening, so I googled “women for romney” and discovered, wouldn’t you know it, Women for Romney 2012.

The group is a self-described “national grassroots organization” of “well-informed politically savvy women.” These savvy women published a column intended to swing undecided, pro-choice women to Romney’s camp. The piece has an extraordinary argument that essentially says this: If you’re a pro-choice woman, just be sure to live in a prochoice state, where your reproductive rights are protected from Republicans, and then go ahead and vote for Romney so he can fix our economic woes, because the economy is more important than anything.

Wowy. I wish that explained it all, that only those women who are wealthy enough to move to the state of their choice support Romney; this would make a little sense. Except that Romney surely will not protect reproductive rights from the war his party is waging against them at every level of government. Except that some working-class women support him, too, which makes no sense, although it does make me sad.

My friend, it makes her furious, but articulately so. “I just want to sit on them and read them the entire contents of a gender studies course!” she sputtered in frustration. I figure the sitting on them part might prove too much of a fun distraction.

I also figure that every woman I know is living women’s economic issues every day. Every woman I know is busting her buns to survive and thrive, regardless of political affiliation; most of them are doing so for others who depend on them. They are working hard to live on less money. To lead businesses and fight wars. To comfort and care for the afflicted. To rebuild stability after divorce and unemployment. To give birth and to midwife loved ones to their deaths. To survive rape, abuse and discrimination. To raise healthy children in a society laced with poisonous messages. To teach the next generation to think and quest. To succeed in male-centric organizations. To make new homes in countries where violence and oppression don’t live next door. To find elusive cures for deadly diseases. To simultaneously work and parent and manage households. To live to their best abilities.

So, how can women possibly vote for Romney? I don’t know, I don’t get it. But I do know this: Women won’t vote for Romney if they understand that women’s issues are more important than anything — because they encompass everything.

Love,
K-B

*It is noteworthy that Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly, Richard Mourdock’s opponent, was a cosponsor of the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” which originally referred to “forcible rape.”

Note: For a compilation of Republican rape statements, visit www.DaysWithoutAGOPRapeMention.com.

Crossposted at San Diego Gay & Lesbian News and San Diego Free Press.

Legitimate Rape: pharmaceutical ad


“Do you suffer from Sexually Liberated Uterine Tendencies? Now there’s a treatment that can help.”

If you’ve ever been the victim of violence or coercion, this can be tough to watch.

If you choose to watch it, I’m curious to know your thoughts — please post them or email me at kbgressitt@gmail.com.

Does this satirical ad succeed or fail in delivering any message to you? What do you think of the delivery?

EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS:
Laura Napoli
Joel Silberman

STARRING:
Laura Napoli

FIELD PRODUCER:
Ben Rock

EDITING PRODUCER:
Noah Pohl

WRITTEN BY:
Laura Napoli
Joel Silberman

ANIMATOR:
Mark Alkofer

COMPOSER AND SOUND DESIGNER:
Jordan Bennett

STUNT COORDINATOR/STUNTS:
Joshua Bradley

SOUND OPERATOR:
Greg Machlin

HAIR AND LIGHTING:
Clemence du Barre

LOGO DESIGNER:
Alyssa Weinberger

Paul Ryan: Will swap unborn babies for vice presidency


By Kit-Bacon Gressitt

Less than two weeks after joining Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign as the GOP’s presumptive vice presidential candidate, U.S. Congressman Paul Ryan has publicly confirmed his erstwhile inner opportunist.

Ryan, who is “very proud of [his] pro-life record,” was faced with a choice between the dangling prize of the vice presidency and remaining true to the source of his pridefulness. Lo and behold, Ryan is surprisingly pro-choice, albeit in a 1-percent sort of way.

Ryan chose to abandon his 100-percent rating from the National Right to Life Committee (a rating based partially on his rejection of abortion ban exceptions for rape and incest), to jump on board the Romney campaign, which, at least for the moment,* supports an abortion ban with exceptions for rape, incest and threat to a mother’s life.

These exceptions — any abortion-ban exception — directly contradict what is known in GOP speak as “personhood” or the “sanctity of human life,” the belief that life begins at conception and that the fertilized egg, the zygote, has all the rights of an upright, walking-around, reusable-coffee-cup-carrying humanoid. This belief is reflected in the GOP party platform’s abortion plank, which calls for a human life amendment to the U.S. Constitution. (Next thing you know, the GOP will follow up its efforts to suppress minority voting, with a campaign to wire women’s wombs so their zygotes can vote — a barefoot, pregnant and unborn voting plank.)

In Ryan’s quest for higher office, he has gone from “I support the rights of the unborn child. Personally, I believe that life begins at conception, and it is for that reason that I feel we need to protect that life as we would protect other children,” to, borrowing from his words, “the flagrant disrespect for the rights of the unborn.”

And what is Ryan’s excuse for his failure to be true to his radical pro-life position? He weaseled it out in a recent interview: “I’m very proud of my pro-life record, and I’ve always adopted the idea that, the position that, the method of conception doesn’t change the definition of life. But let’s remember, I’m joining the Romney-Ryan ticket. And the president makes policy.”

As in: It’s not my fault; Romney did it.

Or, probably more accurately: Yippee! The vice presidency? Hot diggety dog! Shucks, yeah, I’m there, Mitt! How cool is this! I am so on board! And, yeah, I get it: Gotta have abortion exceptions if we want moderate Republican gals’ votes. Heck, I’m with you, Mitt! No prob! Give ’em the exceptions. You know I love unborn babies as much as the next anti-abortionist guy, but if this’ll get us elected, I’m all for it! Besides, we can dump the exceptions once we’re in. The gals’ll come around.

Whatever the internal ruminations of this supposed serious thinker, Paul Ryan has proved himself to be opportunistically “pro-lifey.”

So Republican voters beware: If Ryan will dump his long-time commitment to the nation’s unborn pre-voters just to get elected, imagine what other chicanery we could expect from him as vice president.

Love,
K-B

* The possibly tentative nature of Mitt Romney’s abortion ban exceptions is explained nicely by Jodi Jacobson at RH Reality Check.

Video courtesy of station WJHL, Virginia.

Crossposted at San Diego Free Press and San Diego Gay & Lesbian News.

CSUSM: The results of electing inaction



By Kit-Bacon Gressitt

Do something. In the face of hatred, apathy will be interpreted as acceptance — by the perpetrators, the public and, worse, the victims. Decent people must take action; if we don’t, hate persists.                                                                                                          – Southern Poverty Law Center

Weaver at Sept. 2011 Koala meeting

Better election fraud than rape. That’s what I always say. Not really. That’s what I’ve been saying since Friday, when I learned that Cal State University San Marcos (CSUSM) student Matt Weaver was arrested. But he was not arrested for repeatedly promoting rape (along with homophobia, misogyny, pedophilia and racism) in the pages of The Koala, the privately-owned, for-profit tabloid he edits and touts as a “humor” publication.* That’s not a crime. No, Weaver, who was running for president of ASI, the student government, was arrested and charged with three actual criminal counts associated with the elections:

1. unlawful access to a computer or database,
2. identity theft and
3. election fraud.

Here’s the gist of it: The university’s information security folks noticed suspicious activity on a university computer Thursday evening. According to one unconfirmed report, what was suspicious was seeing 300-some votes miraculously appear in a couple of minutes when the university is lucky to see 600-some votes trickle in over a four-day online election. Whatever the true numbers, a red flag flew up, and the campus police found Matt Weaver seated at the computer in question and in possession of equipment typically used to illegally capture keystrokes. Keystrokes, as in student user names and passwords—the data required to cast votes in the student polling scheduled to close that evening at 5 p.m.

Hence the charges against Weaver and a flurry of speculation, not the least of which is what the incident might reveal about Weaver’s alleged reasoning capabilities if he were to be found guilty of allegedly stealing the identities of alleged CSUSM students in order to allegedly win a student government election using an alleged university-owned computer with his alleged own login.

The Darwin Awards allegedly come to mind.

More interesting though is the sense of entitlement one must possess—an “I want it, I deserve it, I will sure as hell take it” assumption—in order to perpetrate such a crime as self-serving election fraud. Although, what a dreary goal that is, cheating to assure oneself the presidency of a student government at a public university unremarkable except for The Koala (and for hiring expensive new deans while fees rise rapidly enough to exclude already-struggling, working- and lower-class students from higher education).

Such a sense of entitlement can only have been intensified by the administration, which, since the CSUSM edition of The Koala launched in January 2011, has not challenge The Koala’s discriminatory, hate-riddled content or the behaviors of the likes of Matt Weaver who have defended the The Koala’s content as humor while harassing and threatening those who exercise their constitutional right to critique it.

From the Dec. 2011 Koala

The Koala published multiple glorifications of rape and an actual guide to rape, and the administration said nothing to reassure students, faculty and staff that the tabloid’s sanction of rape would be countered by university efforts to make the campus as safe as possible. The Koala published violent and pornographic scenarios targeting students, faculty and staff, and the administration said nothing to comfort them or others who feared being similarly targeted. The Koala published harassment or threats targeting activist students, faculty and staff, and the administration said nothing to the campus community to indicate that such retaliatory tactics were just plain wrong. Instead, the administration indicated no crime had been committed, hence no comment.

Except that now it appears crimes have been committed, allegedly by one of the people responsible for The Koala, someone who embodies the white, male heterosexual privilege-to-behave-badly that has been so well established by the Cal State San Marcos administration’s silence.

Without high standards for campus community participation reinforced with actions, without well-articulated and specific condemnation—not censorship—by the administration, without any repercussions for harassing the collective majority of the diverse student body, it is inevitable that at least one student would determine that he would try his hand at, say, election fraud.

Better election fraud than rape. And how grateful I suppose we should all be that the unfettered hostility tacitly allowed by the CSUSM administration has not in fact escalated to something more violent, to sexual assault or suicide or a campus shooting. Yet.

That is not intended to let anyone off the hook. Matt Weaver is absolutely responsible for his behavior, however self-defeating, however unhealthy. Whatever he did or didn’t do, that was his decision.

But the environment on the CSUSM campus in which the violence of discrimination, harassment and threats are repeatedly without condemnation and hence nurtured, that environment is the responsibility of the administration. And the administration is as guilty of creating it, as is the person who manufactured votes in the student elections guilty. How deeply dismaying, both of them.

On the lighter side, as one student suggested: Matt Weaver arrested? Now that is humor.

Love,
K-B

The Koala is a for-profit business owned by George Lee Liddle III, with editions at CSUSM, San Diego State University and University of California San Diego (UCSD). Liddle’s former partner Sammy Elhag withdrew from the partnership in February 2011, after The Koala at UCSD published a manipulated pornographic image of a student leader.

 

Crossposted at Ocean Beach Rag and San Diego Gay & Lesbian News.

Student editor of hate tabloid runs for CSUSM office


By Kit-Bacon Gressitt

Note: Learn more about the hate tabloid, The Koala, here.

Nitwits run for office at every level in the United States. They’re almost a form of entertainment here, except that some of them manage to get elected and then the manure spreader goes full throttle. Thankfully, a lot of them tend to trip up on the campaign trail.

At the national level there are plentiful candidates of infamy to consider, but let’s go with Texas Governor Rick Perry. He’s the U.S. presidential candidate who, within the last decade or two, entertained bigwigs at his family’s leased hunting camp, which had a big old sign dubbing it “Niggerhead.” Perry was quoted last year saying that the racist slur is an “offensive name that has no place in the modern world.” Interesting, that it took him until the olden days of the late 20th century to figure out that the camp’s racist name was not cool and agree that the sign should be obscured (there are conflicting stories about when this actually happened).

It makes you wonder if Perry’s enlightenment coincided with his aspirations for higher office.

Weaver at Koala meeting, Sep. 2011

At the local level, there’s another cornucopia of unlikely aspirants, but let’s go with Cal State University San Marcos (CSUSM) student Matt Weaver. He’s one of two presidential candidates for Associated Students Inc. (ASI), the university’s student government. Last year, he helped launch the CSUSM edition of The Koala, a for-profit, privately-owned tabloid. (The Koala also publishes editions for San Diego State and UCSD.*) For the last semester or two, Weaver has worked as The Koala‘s editor, publishing such epithets as (profanity alert!), “taco-eating se hablos,” “fucking swarm of brown shit,” “ghetto barbie,” “squinty eyed,” “goddamn cunt bag,” “faculty bitch,” “cum dumpster carp,” “faggot,” “fag hag” and “class IV trog-zar.” Unlike Perry’s epiphany of racial enlightenment, Weaver has not yet acknowledged the discriminatory and harassing content of The Koala. In fact, just last semester, Weaver was extolling the supposedly humorous virtues of The Koala’s racist, homophobic, misogynistic, pedophilic and violent content.

But now Matt Weaver wants to represent the very people The Koala maligns for their race and ethnicity, for their sexual orientation, for being disabled or old or ill — or female.

Rick Perry had the grace — or perhaps it was just good sense — to bow out of the presidential race as his idiocies were revealed in media outlets across the nation and his support didn’t hold up to the competition.

Weaver at Koala meeting, Jan. 2011

Matt Weaver, on the other hand, remains in the ASI presidential race, and it likely has nothing to do with grace or good sense. It’s more likely due to the fact that Weaver has run a stealth campaign, apparently attempting to keep his affiliation with The Koala out of the media. He reportedly refused interviews. He failed to produce a candidate video. He even omitted his job with The Koala from his ASI candidate statement.

It makes you wonder if Weaver’s failure to inform the student body of his role as Koala editor coincided with the realization that he needs to get a job after college. ASI president would look much better on his resume than editor of a hate tabloid that publishes racist content and violent pedophilic scenarios, that revels in homophobia and misogyny, that advocates rape and other violence against students and staff.

Weaver writes in his candidate statement, “My strong leadership and motivational skills will work well with the rest of the Associated Student board members.”

Contrast that with an email Weaver sent to the Koala staff in October. In his message, he attempted to motivate the staff to belittle — with sexual innuendo — the ASI “Positive Personal Ads” campaign, developed to counter the hate in The Koala’s personals. Weaver wrote:

From: The Koala Editor <editor@csusmkoala.com>
Date: Sun, Oct 16, 2011 at 11:44 AM
Subject: Koala Meeting Tomorrow (Monday) – University 260 Computer Lab – 7 PM

… Oh, and we’re having a staff contest.  The ASI newsletter contains a ripoff of our Personals feature, but for positive sentiments only.  Seeing as how this is hilarious, the contest will be to submit a personal that could be interpreted as either good or bad.  For example, their inaugural feature contained the following personal – “Thank you to my business professor for always taking the extra time to help me after class.”  So, anyone who can get their cleverly dirty personals printed can have a tall boy of a premium beer at the next meeting after the next ASI newsletter is published.  You’re going to need to form an anonymous e-mail account and submit a personal to sxxxxxxxr@gmail.com.  Have fun!

Thanks and see you tomorrow.
-Ed

Do you suppose Weaver’s disdainful attitude toward ASI has suddenly improved?

Weaver’s candidate statement then poses this question, “How will I accomplish serving, engaging, and empowering students?”

This must be a tough question for Weaver, given the discriminatory, denigrating and threatening content of The Koala at CSUSM, content that targets just about everyone who is not a white, male, heterosexual. For example, in the September 2011 issue, Weaver published a photo of a pornographic scene with a CSUSM student activist’s face superimposed on one of the bodies. The student, a member of the LGBTQI community, did not find this empowering. And my ongoing critique of The Koala drew the following call to violence in the December 2011 issue: “[I]f you see KB give her a swift kick in the testicles for me would you? It might knock some sand out of her vagina.” Nope, not empowering.

Weaver goes on to answer the question with the following: “Simply by getting more students directly involved with our campus, and transforming the atmosphere of this campus from a commuter school, to one we can call home.”

However, he fails to explain how he could possibly help the targets of The Koala’s discrimination, threats and harassment to feel at home at CSUSM. Having spent the past year wielding free speech as a weapon, Weaver’s statement is unbelievable. Until he proves himself, Matt Weaver is not a good candidate for representing anything but hate.

Weaver might have avoided tripping along the campaign trail, but perhaps he’ll trip at the polls. If you are a student at CSUSM, vote for the other guy.

Love,
K-B

* At the time of this writing, The Koala was a for-profit business owned by George Lee Liddle III, filed with San Diego County;  Sammy Elhag withdrew from the partnership in 2011, after The Koala at UCSD published a manipulated pornographic image of a student leader.

Click here for other posts about The Koala.

Crossposted at The Progressive Post and San Diego Gay & Lesbian News.

Facebook censors cupcakes!


The picture below is a delightful and humourous celebration of women’s anatomy. It’s been posted all over the ‘net, including multiple Facebook pages — including mine. But this morning it was gone! And it’s gone from every other Facebook page I know of that had posted it.

Facebook stole the cupcakes!

Yet, countless Facebook pages continue to be littered with content that celebrates rape as humor. If you want to post rape jokes on public Facebook pages, all you have to do is label them as “humor” or “satire” and you can rap on rape to your heart’s content. Search for “You know she’s playing hard to get when” and you’ll see that Facebook’s policy is worth bupkis.

So, Facebook allows the persistent presence of public content that assaults women’s anatomy, but it censors content that celebrates women’s anatomy.

Still want to buy into Facebook’s initial public offering?

By the way, the closest thing I can find as a source of this photo is Megan Bochum, on Facebook. So, Megan, if this is your photo, please accept the credit and my gratitude for sharing it.

Love,
K-B

Koala at CSUSM rings in Domestic Violence Awareness Month touting rape, violence against women, racism, homophobia


 

By Kit-Bacon Gressitt

Warning: Adult content

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a designation first recognized in 1989. And it is still relevant. Despite the 1994 passage of the Violence Against Women Act. Despite the growing understanding that battering one’s partner is a crime, not spousal privilege. Despite the vast number of people who think they don’t know anyone who has been harmed by an intimate partner.

Because they are wrong. National Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) is still relevant because at least one in four women in the United States — LBTQ or straight — will be assaulted some time in her life.

Name four women you know. One of them likely was, is being, or will be punched, kicked, strangled, burned, stabbed, raped — physically harmed by an intimate.

That’s startling, isn’t it. That’s why this month is a welcome opportunity to focus on raising awareness of the ongoing severity of the problem and on educating people to help prevent domestic violence.

And how did The Koala welcome the month? Tabloid owner George Lee Liddle III, of San Diego, released the latest issue of The Koala at Cal State University San Marcos (CSUSM), bearing the message that rape, violence, racism, homophobia, sodomy of minors and forced pornography are laughable entertainment.

Liddle and the students he manages at the three San Diego County public universities where The Koala is distributed call the tabloid satire, but their content makes clear that the publisher, writers and editors of The Koala don’t know satire from scripture. What they are doing is not funny; it fails as satire; it has no redeeming features. What they are doing is purveying violence, prejudice and hate. These predominantly white heterosexual men use these forms of violence to attract attention to The Koala and then giggle at the fear and outrage, the humiliation and damage that it causes. And they elicit these reactions from their victims with such content as the following (with The Koala‘s errors intact):

Top Five Phrases Never Heard at CSUSM 4. I’ve never been raped before

Women secretly want to be raped

Why do Mexicans classify themselves as people? THEY ARE A FUCKING SWARM OF BROWN SHIT.

Dear koala, Does drugging and raping my roommate make me gay?

Top Ten Advantages To Dating An Underage Girl: 4. They don’t know yet that ass to mouth isn’t acceptable; 6. If you knock her teeth out, they grow back

Top Five Signs Your Girlfriend is Dead: 2. She stopped struggling under the rope

… [W]hen you’re done appeasing our each and every obnoxious and whimsical demand, we’re still gonna fuck the old broad sweeping the stairs.

I couldn’t tell if the fishy smell was escaping fromt the fridge or if all these beautiful azian women had some of the stankiest pussys ever

To black guys: make your cocks smaller please.

To all the fat bitches out there: Suck a fart out of my ass, choke on it and die.

Dilcie, go to the top of the parking structure and jump…

And, in the recent CSUSM issue, Liddle published an image of a female student leader who was running for Homecoming King, Photoshopped into a pornographic scene, with the following headline and copy:

Please ask and do tell … and take pictures

Remember those fantasies of Homecoming you had back in high school? Imagining what it would be like to have a “lezzed-out” homecoming court. Wishing that the Jock who won the title of King were actually an exotic and stunning babe that could scissor the shit out of the queen?

In our rapidly changing times this dream has now become a reality. Thanks to the courageous and open-minded women who are running to be the Queen of King [student’s name redacted], we can all look forward to a Royal Fisting. The question remains, which princess will become the lucky Queen?

This is the product Liddle publishes and promotes on public university campuses, a product funded by commercial advertisers — and supported as a sanctioned student organization at University of California San Diego (UCSD).

And this is, statistics being what they are, what the 1,500 female students at CSUSM, the 3,675 at UCSD, and the 4,350 at SDSU who have been, are, or will be victims of domestic violence are subjected to each time The Koala is distributed.

Outrageous, eh? Are you outraged enough to do something about it?

Many of us at CSUSM are, and we are planning some actions that will protect First Amendment rights while attempting to protect students, faculty and staff from The Koala’s hate.

If you’d like to join us, visit www.CallOutTheKoala.com and subscribe to receive our updates or click the Call Out The Koala Facebook page Like button.

In the meantime, call The Koala advertisers and encourage them to stop funding hate. If you live in the same legislative district as UCSD, call your state legislators and ask them to help UCSD find a way to stop lending public support to a hate tabloid passing as a student organization.

Whatever you do…

Do something. In the face of hatred, apathy will be interpreted as acceptance — by the perpetrators, the public and, worse, the victims. Decent people must take action; if we don’t, hate persists.

—   Southern Poverty Law Center

Love,
K-B

Crossposted at East County Magazine and  San Diego Gay & Lesbian News.

 

What does it mean to be a feminist?


By Kit-Bacon Gressitt

 

I vaguely recall the first time someone asked me what it means to be a feminist. I was still a kid, freshly baptized in the blaze of radical feminism. Or so it seemed, as our consciousness-raising group met in Anita’s living room. She was into her middle years, a professional woman returned to college, and the group was a school project. Its existence in our small town was a damn miracle for us and a disturbing mystery for the men, who didn’t understand why a gaggle of gals would get together for no better purpose than to talk — just talk — to each other! — what the hell? — and we weren’t too sure ourselves, at first, although their reactions were reason enough, and enlightenment shortly followed.

Ensconced in pastoral adornment — brocade throw pillows, hand-tatted antimacassars, ceramic tchotchkes — we spoke of goddesses and orgasms, of Shulamith Firestone and her Dialectic of Sex. We gasped and caressed the images of female genitalia in Our Bodies, Ourselves. We dreamt of Feminist Revolution amid fiery Redstockings. And we strode boldly forth to spread the good word of equality of the sexes.

That’s when one of the boys on the farm asked me about feminism (yes, there literally was a dairy farm, with a lot of eager boys on it). But the acrid sarcasm in his inflection neutralized the need for a serious response, along with his chances. Were it not for my oh-so proper upbringing — the gendered training that turns Southern females into well-coiffed boot scrapers and males, into manure-crusted boots — I’d have asked him what it means to be a teeny sexist turd.

Of course, I didn’t. As one of the elite white males who has claimed the exclusive U.S. leadership mantle said years later, “Wouldn’t be prudent”[1] — no matter that belittling my passions annoyed me. But, alas, back then I still clasped the remnants of ladylikeness as a virgin bride clutches the coverlet to her chin on her wedding night.

Hmmm, that image might be a tad sexist. Blame it on the South, the South and the more generic sublimation of female anger. We were not allowed to be angry; it would interfere with our being gracious, accommodating, acquiescent — boot scrapers.

But I changed — with the seasons, with the years, with the geography — and by the 1990s I took to slinging the Oxford English Dictionary definition of feminism at California’s political candidates, who proudly proclaimed their befuddled disaffection for the moniker by answering “No” to the question “Are you a feminist?” and “Yes” to the question “Do you support granting women the same rights as men?”

“Ahem, sir,” I’d say, “that is feminism.” And the hapless hucksters would stumble over their reassurances that they both advocated for women’s equality and abjured feminism.

Go figure.

Now, thirty-five years removed from my feminist birthing, I am asked yet again what it means to be a feminist, a feminist in an anti-feminist culture, a culture as far removed from the feminism of the 1960s and 70s as we were then from the suffragists of the previous century’s turning. But there is a difference. This time, the query is posed without sarcasm. It comes from a women’s studies professor, a smart woman with wild hair and more books than her institution deems seemly. She’s been plunked into a new office with shelves enough for half her books. When I saw this, I couldn’t help but imagine the architect wondering how many words women really need to pack into their pretty little heads. Idiot.

Do I seem angry? I’m not supposed to be. But after thirty-five years of surveilling our patriarchal system, I am.

Or no, I’m not angry. I’m thinking, thinking of that classic Southern aphorism — that horses sweat, gentlemen perspire and ladies glow. I recall telling Mother, once, that I was sweating like a stuck pig. I don’t recall that she laughed, but I hope she would laugh at my suggestion now — that ladies clench their sphincters and remain silent, women become understandably yet politely angry, and feminists get mad. Because I am mad. I am a mad feminist. And I get mad better than most. Because mad is a tool for change. Silent acquiescence and clenched sphincters, polite anger, they are not tools for change — not at the turn of the century, not in the 60s and 70s, and not today.

What does it mean to be a feminist today, a mad feminist? I think it means a lot of things, some I’m still learning.

But I do know it means seeing people roll their eyes at the mention of consciousness-raising groups, those silly little things that turned on our voices, that aroused our sexuality, that confirmed our personhood.

It means a persistent gendered wage gap that in 2009 paid women a median wage equating to about 80¢ to each $1.00 men earned.[2]

It means fuming as women’s bodies serve as capitalism’s primary tools, our breasts selling beer, our genitalia pitching the latest fashions, our undeveloped hands assembling the endless stream of consumer goods from Third World countries that keep the elite in power around the globe.

It means mourning the loss of Congresswoman Bella Abzug’s trailblazing path to the United State’s lackluster ranking of 70th of 186 nations in the percentage of females in national legislatures[3] — behind such countries as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.

It means gasping as young women succumb to the fallacy that fellatio is not sex and their bodies, themselves are not worthy of respect — their own or their partner’s.

It means flinching as nearly one in every four women in the United States reports experiencing violence at the hands of a current or former intimate partner.[4]

It means wailing as each of more than 500 women per day reports being raped or sexually assaulted.[5]

And still — still! — we blame them for their abuse. Perhaps this is why experts suggest the actual numbers for domestic violence, rape and sexual assault are double or triple what is reported — or more.

It means that the U.S. government has barely begun to collect comparable data for lesbians and bisexual and transgender women.

It means — all of this means — that we need to do something about it, something to declare that this is how it is and that how it is, is not right, is not sane, cannot continue.

And that means we need to be activists for equality all the time, everywhere we go, always insisting on having difficult conversations we might rather avoid, the kind we would have shied from before our do-it-yourself-home-inspection-speculum days, when it was easier to fake an orgasm than to talk about it, to explore what it would take to achieve it, to tell a partner to try this instead of that. It’s not that different from equality. Seriously. Female orgasms and equality require the recognition that they are absent when they shouldn’t be, the desire for them, and the commitment to talk about them for the purpose of obtaining them. Orgasms are just a lot easier.

Equality, equality is a toughy. Which brings me back to the question of what it means to be a feminist today. Although I’m still working on the answer, I’m certain it means I have to be mad. I’ll let you know what else I figure out. And then I’ll call Anita, to thank her.

Love,
K-B

Crossposted at the Ocean Beach Rag, The Progressive Post and San Diego Gay and Lesbian News.


[1] Fickle feminist denier George H.W. Bush, who dropped his membership in Planned Parenthood to woo conservative voters and become the 41st U.S. President.

[2] http://www.iwpr.org/press-room/archive/on-equal-pay-day-study-finds-women-earn-less-than-men-2013-whether-they-do-the-same-job-or-different-jobs/view

[3] Inter-Parliamentary Union. Published 31 July 2011. Accessed 10 September 2011. http://www.ipu.org/wmn-e/classif.htm.

[4] Adverse Health Conditions and Health Risk Behaviors Associated with Intimate Partner Violence, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. February 2008. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5705a1.htm.

[5] National Crime Victimization Survey: Criminal Victimization, 2007.  2008.  U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Available at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/cv07.pdf.

Image from Redstockings website, www.redstockings.org.

 

I’ll have the summer vacation, please


By Kit-Bacon Gressitt

 

You know that thing we used to have to do at the end of summer, the thing that whopped you upside the head with the brutal inevitability that vacation was over, that tar-bubble popping adventures and rhubarb-sucking loll-abouts were done, done and gone with the finality of a bee between your naked foot and the clover that enticed the insect to its death and you, to your hopping pain? You know, that “What I did for summer vacation” short essay assignment that taunted you from the dusty cool of the blackboard and picked at the mosquito bites oozing down your leg, making them itch all over again — as though defining your youthful joys would pack them away and yank from more distant springtime memories some mythically compliant learning mode?

Yep, that. I really hated that. Yet that’s what I wish I had to do right now. Being over and done with my summer vacation would be far preferable to what I’m actually doing right in the middle of it — studying families and gender and theater and social taboos.

What the hell was I thinking!

Well, what I was thinking was that it would be really cool to cram a cacaload of courses into a five-week intensive session. What I was not thinking about were the emotional repercussions of such an academic extravagance.

I was not thinking about our national descent into the ignominious status of having the highest poverty rates in the Western industrialized world, until I read a chapter from Sharon Hays’ Flat Broke With Children about a punitive welfare system designed to avoid making welfare payments; a system eager to drop families from its rolls and into economic oblivion when mothers are too sick to work or have chronically-ill or disabled family members to care for or they can’t keep jobs in a heartless economy; a system rich in self-righteous moralizing that calls denying aid to the impoverished success.

And now California will add to the rosters of the economically disappeared as mothers and children try to make sense of the 8-percent cut to their welfare-to-work checks, passed by the state legislature in last week’s budget bill. What do you suppose these mothers and children will do to fill the gap between the whopping $700 per month they used to receive and the new rate for a family of three — $640?

Neither was I thinking about the intimate pain of The Laramie Projec, until the play unfolded the linens of the town where Matthew Shepard was beaten and left in the darkness of homophobia to die; or the ambivalence of Matt’s fellow college student who played a gay man in Angels In America, yet mimicked the script of his church and parents that “Homosexuality is wrong”; or the 10-years-later perspective of the same young man, still ambivalent.

And now San Diego has a beating victim of its own, but this victim is homeless and gay, not a middle-class college student and gay. Will anyone write a play about Jason “Cowboy” Huggins, bashed in the head with a rock and not expected to live?

Nor was I thinking about wartime rape, until Lynn Nottage’s Ruined played unrelenting scenes of battling Congolese factions making war between women’s legs — with penises, sticks, gun barrels, bayonets, broken bottles…

And now, despite the United Nations’ 2008 resolution declaring rape a weapon of war, the ruination continues in the Democratic Republic of Congo — and the United States of America, where 3,158 incidents of sexual assault in the military were reported in 2010.

And I think I’ll stop there.

Perhaps the season’s joys can be salvaged. Maybe not. Maybe they shouldn’t be. But I could sure use a little break, a wee respite to suck sun-warmed sour from the neighbor’s purloined rhubarb or pop roadside tar bubbles in the summer’s shimmering heat.

Love,
K-B

Crossposted by the Ocean Beach Rag and San Diego Gay & Lesbian News.

Diary of a Mad Coed in her Prime: Rain Without Thunder


 

By Kit-Bacon Gressitt


Last Thursday, I visited a professor in her temporary office. She was perched at an oddly placed desk amid unpacked boxes, all under a light patina of dust and the discomfort of passing disorder. She apologized when I arrived — an unnecessary courtesy, albeit a noted one, but I didn’t care. She was doing me the favor of providing guidance on an analysis of The Koala, a tabloid publication that started at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) in 1982, spread to San Diego State University (SDSU) in 2004, and mutated into an edition at Cal State University San Marcos (CSUSM) this January.

The common theme of all three editions of The Koala is the preponderance of content written for white, heterosexual, able-bodied male readers — and those who hover around them seeking their approval even if it means being victimized by them.

This white, heterosexual, able-bodied male voice possesses the privilege of attacking every other demographic with abandon — and with the specter of hate and violence, evinced in the many rape and pedophilia scenarios; degrading language reflecting ability, gender, race and sexual orientation; and sexual and scatological references to religious figures.

The intensity of the Koalans’ disaffection with everyone else is startling, and their expression of it ranges from adolescent tripe to profoundly disturbing hate language, despite the tabloid’s being marketed to advertisers as “satirical comedy.”

Interestingly, Koala owner George Lee Liddle III refers to people who criticize his tabloids as “haters,” his one minimally successful attempt at satire, however unintentional.

But The Koala is not considered funny, trenchant or satirical by most people who are not affiliated with it or by those business operators who have withdrawn their ads. And a review of the internal communication between Liddle and the CSUSM students reinforces its comedic failure. Many of their exchanges, to which I was privy for a few weeks, revealed anger, hatred and, on the students’ part, fear of repercussion, which suggested they had not fully embraced Liddle’s arrogance of purpose or his directive to ignore the haters.

Koalan and CSUSM student Aaron Jaffe wrote: I am all for putting out our papers with the standard content, but what I am not for is having a bunch of us being retarded and running around talking about stupid shit in the wrong places. If some of you guys cannot straighten yourselves out and just keep on the level with that aspect then I’ll have to take a bow and exit. I do not care about what we print but I do care when my name gets associated with someone being an idiot.

So why do they do it?

The professor and I sat there together, stumped by the elusive motivation for being involved with a company publishing such hateful fare, “standard content,” according to Jaffe.

For Liddle, greed might explain it all. But for the students, receiving the rather substantial gift of a college education, it is unclear why they would devote their time to The Koala. And much else about the company is unclear, because the students are trained to demand alcohol in exchange for interviews, which for many of them is illegal, given their ages.

But I reviewed what I’ve managed to learn about them since January.

As previously reported, The Koala is no longer a student organization, not as they are commonly understood. Rather, it was redefined as a business in 2005 — a for-profit general partnership that, until February 25, was owned by two former UCSD students, Liddle and Sammy Elhag.

– On February 25, Elhag filed a Partnership Withdrawal form with San Diego County, thereby exiting as a partner and leaving the reins to Liddle.

The timing is significant because on February 14, the UCSD Koala released an issue with a piece by 26-year-old student editor Kris Gregorian. Gregorian attacked an associated student councilmember by name in an obscenely manipulated photograph that rumor suggests might lead to a lawsuit.

It would be nice to think that Elhag was fed up with the tabloid’s hateful content, but it is just as likely that he withdrew in an attempt to protect his assets from a suit.

– In a possibly related move, Gregorian has abandoned his previously stated aspiration to be a perpetual student: He has departed the university for reasons unknown but not unfathomable.

If it wasn’t pressure from the university, certainly few parents would choose to fund an education in hate. One look at what their kiddos are doing on their parents’ dimes might be enough to yank at least a few of the Koalans home for a permanent spring break.

Gregorian, however, might not have departed The Koala along with his education. Given that Liddle is acting as interim editor of the CSUSM edition, it’s certainly possible Gregorian could stay on as editor at UCSD.

– In the meantime, Channel 10 News reported that The Koala has received $28,892.52 from UCSD since 2005, when Liddle and Elhag first filed a Fictitious Business Name Statement with the County, declaring The Koala to be a privately held, for-profit business. In addition, the company has been given on-campus office space.

While it’s possible the university system was previously unaware of the business’ existence and nonstudent ownership, it knows now, so wouldn’t it be appropriate for UCSD or the UC Regents to pursue return of the public funds from Liddle and Elhag. If the university doesn’t, the taxpayers — or their elected representatives — certainly should.

There is one more thing that has become evident since January, and it is that many people who have commented on The Koala — too many people — do not understand the constitutional right to freedom of speech. They think that to criticize The Koala or to ask advertisers to withdraw their support equates to violating Liddle’s right to publish the tabloid.

But they are wrong.

Yes, Liddle and the students can publish whatever they want — and suffer the consequences if they venture into libel or obscenity.

Of course, those of us who find their speech hateful also have the right to free speech. We have the right to freely criticize The Koala, and we have the right to ask businesses to withdraw their advertising from the tabloid — because the Koalans’ right to free speech does not bear with it a right to advertisers. That they must earn with the perceived value of their content.

My professor is much younger than I, but after perusing a recent Koala, we shared a little weariness with the damn annoying volume of injustice and hate and violence in the world: the anti-working class legislation in Wisconsin and Ohio, the racist strife in Arizona, the waste of students who choose The Koala’s hate over doing some good with their lives. And then we were silent.

I thought of the tattered and torn paper in my office. I can always count on Frederick Douglass for a reminder that our freedoms cannot be passively enjoyed — and for a good kick to keep up the battle.

“If there is no struggle,” Douglass wrote, “there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightening.”

I’m rather fond of thunder and lightening — and agitation against hate is invigorating.

Love,
K-B

Call The Koala advertisers to ask them to withdraw their support of the tabloid’s homophobic, misogynistic, pedophilic, racist and sexist content.

Cana Care Consultants: 760-429-7498

Cheba Hut, Scott Jennings, President and CEO: http://www.chebahut.com/feedback.php

Cheba Hut UCSD, Matt Trethewey, COO: 480-773-0644

The Dank Bank: 619-589-0117 or thedankbank619@yahoo.com

Elite Medical Collective: 619-255-9768

The General Store Coop: 858-450-3080 or trex@generalstorecoop.com

Goldfingers Gentlemen’s Club, Owner Aaron Goldberg: 858-530-0766

Insomniac Events, Pasquale Rotella, founder: 323-874-7020

PB Entertainment, Owners Mike Ettenberg and Jason Sampas: 858-598-7759

Porter’s Pub & Grill: 858-587-4828

Spirits of St. Germaine: 858-455-1414

Therapeutic Healing Cooperative: 619-717-8060 or 866-378-1726

Crossposted at the Ocean Beach Rag, the Progressive Post and San Diego Gay and Lesbian News.

Diary of a Mad Coed in her Prime: Hate by any Other Name


 

By Kit-Bacon Gressitt


Of the many things I’ve learned since traipsing off with my book bag and lunchbox to return to full-time studenthood, none is quite as dismaying as the persistence of the rape culture that pervades U.S. media and, hence, the daily lives of media consumers.

Rape culture is so pervasive, it seems innocuous to many and is ignored by most, except some in academia and alternative news media — and, of course, those in rape and domestic violence programs. Oh, and in the psyches of the culture’s victims.

Rape culture was first named 35 years ago, when I fancied myself invincible and, hence, dismissed it. But rape culture has continued to provide succor to attitudes that condone rape and violence against women and girls (and, actually, any perceived minority), attitudes that promote the normalcy of rape and violence, that contrive humor from rape and violence, that all too often result in blaming women and girls for their rapes and the violence perpetrated against them.

If you think this particular cultural phenomenon is simply a figment of feminist imagination, take a gander at the article I found in The New York Times March 9 edition, while waiting for my Chemistry for Idiots class.

The article reports that 18 males have been charged in the rape of an 11-year-old girl in Cleveland, Tex. The suspects are 27 years old to middle-school age. Some of them apparently were so enamored of the alleged assault that they taped it and distributed the video, which ultimately led to the charges — and, one would think, makes them difficult to refute.

Yet The New York Times article, by James C. McKinley, Jr., with reporting by Mauricio Guerrero, poses the question: “If the allegations are proved, how could [the neighborhood’s] young men have been drawn into such an act?”

“Drawn” is an odd choice of words for the journalists to have used and for their editor to have approved. Odd, because the word suggests that the suspects did not make the decision to rape the 11-year-old girl, but, rather, were somehow compelled by an external force to rape her.

In essence, The New York Times has suggested that, even if any of the suspects are found guilty, they are not responsible for the 11-year-old girl’s rape.

If not the suspects, who then is responsible?

Well, the article goes on to report that “[r]esidents in the neighborhood … said the victim had been visiting various friends there for months. They said she dressed older than her age, wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s. She would hang out with teenage boys at a playground, some said.”

The paper does not mention that the vast majority of television shows, advertisements and magazines targeting the victim’s age group — from Hannah Montana to Teen Vogue — encourage such behaviors, representing them as the norm.

Nonetheless, with this deft reporting of unattributed hearsay, the paper has provided the answer: The New York Times has implied it is the victim’s fault.

An 11-year-old girl, using the force of her appearance, her makeup and dress, her choice of companions, “drew” a gang of men and boys into raping her. That’s rape culture.

But it is unacceptable to blame a victim for her or his rape. Blaming the victim is never OK. Ever.

If you find this article dismaying, write to The New York Times ombudsman, Public Editor Arthur S. Brisbane, at public@nytimes.com and let him know. Although he found some fault in the article, he only went so far as to say that it “lacked a critical balancing element.”

In a similar but more insidious vein, I learned in a Women’s Studies class about Comedy Central’s attempt to capture the 16- to 35-year-old male audience by promoting the comedy of Daniel Tosh. Here are a couple excerpts for your edification:

Excerpt 1. My sister’s off the charts. I play practical jokes on her constantly, though. I got her so good a few weeks ago. I replaced her mustard spray with silly string. Anyway, that night she got raped. And she called me the next day going, ‘You son of a bitch. You got me so good.’

This riff was well into a Tosh routine, a point at which, if he had exposed his penis to pee on someone in the front row of his audience, plenty of people would have laughed. A skilled comedian can elicit a laugh from some folks at just about anything.

Including rape.

But there is nothing funny about rape. Rape is never funny. Ever.

Excerpt 2. ‘There’s no excuse for domestic violence.’ It sounds like a challenge. I mean does everything have to be so black and white in this Kindergarten country of ours? ‘There’s no excuse for domestic violence.’ What if you go home from a long day of work, and your wife has drowned two of your kids? She’s about to dunk the third one. Can you run over and pop her then? ‘Unfortunately no; there’s no excuse. You’re gonna have to let her drown that third one.’

Now, Comedy Central is home to such progressive comedy as John Stewart’s The Daily Show, and the juxtaposition of Tosh and Stewart is certainly a contrast — enough to cause whiplash.

But there is nothing funny about domestic violence. Domestic violence is never funny. Ever.

If you find Tosh’s humor dismaying, send Comedy Central President Michele Ganeless an email and let her know: michele.ganeless@mtvn.com or michele.ganeless@comedycentral.com. While you’re at it, copy Steve Albani, head of corporate communications, at steve.albani@comedycentral.com.

And if you find yourself sitting with someone who laughs at a joke about rape or violence against women and girls, consider telling him or her it’s not funny.

I find being an old student is mostly a blast, but watching young people accept hate as humor — hate that targets most of them — that is heartbreaking.

Love,
K-B

Note: The Associated Press has reported multiple instances of Cleveland residents’ clearly blaming the victim here and here.

Crossposted at the Ocean Beach Rag and San Diego Gay and Lesbian News.

Daniel Tosh image from comedycentral.com. Baby doll image by  needoll {away}/Natasha via a Creative Commons license.