Notes and Comment Blog

Not blaming her directly

Jun 6th, 2016 9:10 am | By

More from the Brock Turner file. Via Stanford law professor Michele Dauber, who attended the trial, on Twitter:

A reference letter to the judge.

I don’t think it’s fair to base the fate of the next 10+ years of his life on the decision of a girl who doesn’t remember anything but the amount she drank to press charges against him. I am not blaming her directly for this, because that isn’t right. But where do we draw the line and stop worrying about being politically correct every second of the day and see that rape on campus isn’t always because people are rapists?

I know, right? It’s so annoyingly politically correct to think that fucking an unconscious woman behind a dumpster is rape. It’s not rape at all: it’s post-dancing alcohol-lubricated joyous sexy fun times!

The problem is, the letter-writer goes on, universities encourage this party atmosphere and all this drinking. It’s all their fault, not the fault of the innocent boys who drink a lot in this party atmosphere and then totally accidentally rape some bitch behind a dumpster.

This is completely different from a woman getting kidnapped and raped as she is walking to her car in a parking lot. That is a rapist. These are not rapists.

There you have it, wims. Rape is when a stranger jumps out at you and pulls a knife. End of definition. Rape is not when a stranger finds you drunk and pulls you outside and behind a dumpster, at least not when that stranger is a very nice clean-cut white boy on the swim team at Stanford – I mean duh. Who wouldn’t want to have sex with that boy? If some slut drinks so much at a party that that nice clean-cut white boy can pull her outside behind a dumpster, then she deserves whatever he does to her, and he is in no way at fault. She’s a slut and a sloppy drunk and if she presses charges she’s a bitch besides. It’s political correctness run mad to say otherwise.

Not even a little unique

Jun 6th, 2016 8:09 am | By

An incident:

In the interest of privacy, this person chooses to remain anonymous. Please keep it that way. But feel free to share the hell out of this.

“Today, I talked back to a catcaller. I do this often, and when I say I’m putting myself in physical danger when I do this, I’m laughed at. I’m told to stop overreacting. I’m called overdramatic.

Today, I talked back to a man who touched me in the street without my permission. It doesn’t matter what I said. What matters is that he grabbed me by the back of the head, called me a whore, and threw me into a wall. Because I stood up for myself after he put his hands on me.

The details are irrelevant. I will tell you that this happened in the middle of the afternoon. I will tell you that there were onlookers who did nothing to help. I will tell you that as I crawled around on the sidewalk, feeling for my dropped glasses, nobody came to help. I will tell you that as I walked away, shaking, bleeding from my mouth, nobody offered to walk me home.

I will tell you that I sobbed in the arms of a friend, and asked him to help me invent a story to tell the rest of my friends, because I was so ashamed. I will tell you I blamed myself for being too mouthy. I will tell you I’m still crying.

I will tell you this isn’t the first time. That I anticipate it will not be the last. I expect to get hurt again. I expect to be hit by more men in my lifetime. I expect to be called names and threatened. I anticipate it. It has happened enough for me to anticipate it. And still, I was not prepared.

I will tell you I was terrified to post about this for fear of being called more names. Things like “overdramatic” and “attention whore”. I was terrified to even tell anyone what happened. Because I assumed I would be blamed. I will tell you that I’m a tough cookie and a badass woman, and I still can’t help but blame myself.

This is 2016. I was attacked by a man, and I am preparing myself to be asked what I did to deserve it, and told what I should have done to prevent it. This needs to be talked about. My story is not even a little unique. ‪#‎notallmen‬ helps no one, when ‪#‎somemen‬ are all it takes.”

A steep price to pay

Jun 5th, 2016 5:56 pm | By

Oh, this is disgusting. I know, I blog about so many disgusting items, but the moral squalor on display here…

The father of Brock Turner, the convicted Stanford rapist, wrote a letter to the judge about his sentence.

Dan A. Turner, Brock Turner’s dad, wrote a letter to Judge Aaron Persky before his son’s sentencing Thursday. He said that since his son was found guilty of sexual assault, he isn’t eating much and is full of worry and anxiety. It’s “a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life,” he argued.

Well that could explain a lot. If Brock Turner’s father thinks fucking an unconscious woman is “action” then that could be why Brock Turner felt entitled to fuck an unconscious woman.

Turner Senior tells the judge he used to love to get the Brockster a nice manly ribeye steak to grill, but now the puir lad takes no pleasure in his food any more; he eats only to exist.

These verdicts have broken and shattered him and our family in so many ways. His life will never the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve. That’s a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.

It wasn’t 20 minutes of action, it was 20 minutes of rape. There was another person involved, a human being, with her own life and dreams and work. She’s the one who paid a steep price, and she paid it for going to a party with her sister, and drinking too much too fast, and being female – none of which is criminal or unethical or harmful to other people.

That level of narcissism and entitlement is hard to credit.

Meeting Orwell in the break room

Jun 5th, 2016 12:16 pm | By

Another one who claims to be both femme and afab but also non-binary – or did claim, since this is from 2014, and with any luck there has been some maturing since.

So, what with being called out for being fake and a pretender by both myself and others, I sometimes get the desire to prove myself as non-binary. Especially since I am someone who was both assigned female and birth, and presents as largely female.

I did go through a phase where I tried to present as androgynous. I failed hopelessly at it. Why? Two reasons.

1. I’m a 34DD. Let that sink in. Try to hide that under a binder. It doesn’t work. A sports bra flattens them down a bit, but they’re there, and they’re always going to show.

2. I’m a feminine person. I just am. I like pretty earrings and make-up, which is something about me that has nothing to do with my gender identity, but when paired with an afab (assigned female at birth) body, distinctly marks me as female. I didn’t like having to give up being pretty, wearing make-up, wearing clothes and accessories that weren’t all bland muted colours.

So why the perceived need to “prove myself as non-binary”? Why all this struggle over a superfluous label? Why not just get on with life? Why not rejoice in the greater freedom women have to wear all different sorts of clothes (while still if you like working to make it so that men have more of that freedom too) and just be a woman with a varied wardrobe?

The truth is, you can’t win at being androgynous. Not unless you’re willing to give up your own personal style to fit into society’s incredibly narrow and limited idea of what androgyny is. So fuck it.

Hm. I’m not sure society has any idea, narrow or broad, of what androgyny is. I’m not sure society thinks about it enough to have an idea of it. It’s not a mass-popular subject.

Yeah, I wear make-up, and earrings and breasts. You know who else does? Drag queens who still identify as male. And that’s the real point here: gender identity and gender presentation are two completely different things. I am a non-binary person who presents as female because it fits with my style, and because it’s convenient for me, but that doesn’t change the fact that I am non-binary.

What fact? What fact is that, exactly? What fact are you talking about? How do you know it?

I don’t think there is such a fact. I think there are lots of facts of the type “X doesn’t like to be confined by silly arbitrary rules about what women / men can wear” but few if any facts of the type “this person who was assigned female at birth and presents as largely female is non-binary.” What this blogger is calling a fact is actually a decision – and that’s fine, people can decide to be non-binary or gender nonconforming or whatever they like, but a decision to be something doesn’t always translate to a fact that one is that something. It’s a complicated verb, that one – Bill Clinton wasn’t only ducking and weaving when he pointed out that “is” can mean different things. The blogger is non-binary if she / they wants to be, but that’s all for her / them to decide, it’s not a separate fact that can’t be changed by external reality.

Or to put it another way, it’s not clear what the blogger means by “I am a non-binary person who presents as female” when all these labels seem to depend so very heavily on getting confirmation from others. It’s also not clear what the point is.

I go to work every day as a female. I’m read as female, and I introduce myself as a female, and it’s fine. Then I come home and I take off my costume. I go back to being myself. But the breasts won’t come off. I go online and present myself as non-binary –

Ahhh yes, now I know where we are. Of course you do. Online is like that. I present myself as non-grumpy, non-boring, non-sullen, non-all sorts of things that show up in meat space but don’t online. Don’t we all. And that’s just it: we all do, to varying degrees. It’s not a new discovery of Today’s Kids that what the world sees does not perfectly match up with our sense of ourselves. It’s a newish or intensified discovery of everyone who lives partly online, one that people just didn’t have a medium to make before the internet. Maybe a few people did – I bet George Orwell felt a difference between the self who wrote the essays and the one who had colleagues at the BBC.

So that’s how it is – we all go back to being ourselves. It’s not so much non-binary as non-public or non-social or non-external.


Their family duty

Jun 5th, 2016 11:24 am | By

A school in India for girls who have escaped sex slavery.

More children are sold into prostitution in India than in any other country. In villages such as Simraha, it is not uncommon for girls as young as 12 or 13 to be sold.

At this school, many of the children playing games, doing homework, helping with dinner and making crafts are the daughters of prostitutes. They are members of a marginalized caste known as the Nat community, which is trapped in a system of hereditary prostitution.

Their school, not far from the border with Nepal in the Indian state of Bihar, is part of a national program of girls’ boarding schools called Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya, intended specifically for minority groups. Founded by the nonprofit organization Apne Aap, its supporters and the Bihar state government, the school aims to break the bonds of caste and inequality.

“The school keeps them safe and away from the home-based brothels that they were growing up in,” said Ruchira Gupta, Apne Aap’s founder. “Otherwise, they would join their mothers in prostitution.”

They’re still subject to pressure though.

A few graduates of the school are even heading off to college — with ambitions of becoming lawyers and doctors.

But many struggle to achieve a much smaller ambition: avoiding being caught up in systemic prostitution.

At the school, fathers regularly put pressure on the girls to do their “family duty” and start working as prostitutes. Some fathers have tried to snatch the girls back.

What loving parents.

The LA Times piece has many photos from the school.

All the arts and wiles of our sex

Jun 5th, 2016 9:58 am | By

I’ve been thinking about this word “femme” – which, it seems to me, an awful lot of straight people have “appropriated” from lesbians, but that’s a slightly separate issue. What I’ve been thinking about is the fact that it’s a substitute for the word “feminine” but sounds hip and knowing, while “feminine” just sounds dopey and last century. Maybe the appropriation isn’t a separate issue after all then, since people tend to appropriate words and gestures and the like for increased hippitude.

Anyway, “femme” is a cooler way of saying “feminine,” but the trouble with that is that erases the political aspects of the word “feminine”…and that’s not a good idea.

What do you think of when you hear or see the word “feminine”? Graceful, fragile, dainty, pretty, delicate, weak – you see where I’m going with this? From dainty and delicate and weak you get to subordinate, powerless, compliant, second class. It’s not just random that that’s what feminine means; it’s political. What it means isn’t hip at all. Calling it femme instead makes it sound rebellious instead of compliant.

I’ve been thinking about the word because of something I saw on a blog that made me laugh incredulously –

________ is not safe, especially for femme women and femme AFAB non-binary people.

Say what? Femme AFAB non-binary people? Aren’t those just…um…women? If they’re both “assigned female at birth” and femme aka feminine, then how are they non-binary? How is this not, again, appropriation? How is it not appropriating a hipster label in order to seem less boring than tedious yawny ol’ women?

I think the hipsters are making a mistake thinking they can make “feminine” no longer political by changing it to “femme.” The word “feminine” has creepy overtones for a reason, and that shouldn’t be brushed aside.

Have some Virginia Woolf on The Angel in the House:

What could be easier than to write articles and to buy Persian cats with the profits? But wait a moment. Articles have to be about something. Mine, I seem to remember, was about a novel by a famous man. And while I was writing this review, I discovered that if I were going to review books I should need to do battle with a certain phantom. And the phantom was a woman, and when I came to know her better I called her after the heroine of a famous poem, The Angel in the House. It was she who used to come between me and my paper when I was writing reviews. It was she who bothered me and wasted my time and so tormented me that at last I killed her. You who come of a younger and happier generation may not have heard of her–you may not know what I mean by the Angel in the House. I will describe her as shortly as I can. She was intensely sympathetic. She was immensely charming. She was utterly unselfish. She excelled in the difficult arts of family life. She sacrificed herself daily. If there was chicken, she took the leg; if there was a draught she sat in it–in short she was so constituted that she never had a mind or a wish of her own, but preferred to sympathize always with the minds and wishes of others. Above all–I need not say it—she was pure. Her purity was supposed to be her chief beauty–her blushes, her great grace. In those days–the last of Queen Victoria–every house had its Angel. And when I came to write I encountered her with the very first words. The shadow of her wings fell on my page; I heard the rustling of her skirts in the room. Directly, that is to say, I took my pen in my hand to review that novel by a famous man, she slipped behind me and whispered: “My dear, you are a young woman. You are writing about a book that has been written by a man. Be sympathetic; be tender; flatter; deceive; use all the arts and wiles of our sex. Never let anybody guess that you have a mind of your own. Above all, be pure.” And she made as if to guide my pen.

A pox on all the arts and wiles of our sex.

If a girl falls down help her up

Jun 4th, 2016 12:13 pm | By

Part 2 of reading the victim’s statement:

When I was told to be prepared in case we didn’t win, I said, I can’t prepare for that. He was guilty the minute I woke up. No one can talk me out of the hurt he caused me. Worst of all, I was warned, because he now knows you don’t remember, he is going to get to write the script. He can say whatever he wants and no one can contest it. I had no power, I had no voice, I was defenseless. My memory loss would be used against me. My testimony was weak, was incomplete, and I was made to believe that perhaps, I am not enough to win this. His attorney constantly reminded the jury, the only one we can believe is Brock, because she doesn’t remember. That helplessness was traumatizing.

Instead of taking time to heal, I was taking time to recall the night in excruciating detail, in order to prepare for the attorney’s questions that would be invasive, aggressive, and designed to steer me off course, to contradict myself, my sister, phrased in ways to manipulate my answers. Instead of his attorney saying, Did you notice any abrasions? He said, You didn’t notice any abrasions, right? This was a game of strategy, as if I could be tricked out of my own worth. The sexual assault had been so clear, but instead, here I was at the trial, answering questions like:

How old are you? How much do you weigh? What did you eat that day? Well what did you have for dinner? Who made dinner? Did you drink with dinner? No, not even water? When did you drink? How much did you drink? What container did you drink out of? Who gave you the drink? How much do you usually drink? Who dropped you off at this party? At what time? But where exactly? What were you wearing? Why were you going to this party? What’ d you do when you got there? Are you sure you did that? But what time did you do that? What does this text mean? Who were you texting? When did you urinate? Where did you urinate? With whom did you urinate outside? Was your phone on silent when your sister called? Do you remember silencing it? Really because on page 53 I’d like to point out that you said it was set to ring. Did you drink in college? You said you were a party animal? How many times did you black out? Did you party at frats? Are you serious with your boyfriend? Are you sexually active with him? When did you start dating? Would you ever cheat? Do you have a history of cheating? What do you mean when you said you wanted to reward him? Do you remember what time you woke up? Were you wearing your cardigan? What color was your cardigan? Do you remember any more from that night? No? Okay, well, we’ll let Brock fill it in.

I was pummeled with narrowed, pointed questions that dissected my personal life, love life, past life, family life, inane questions, accumulating trivial details to try and find an excuse for this guy who had me half naked before even bothering to ask for my name. After a physical assault, I was assaulted with questions designed to attack me, to say see, her facts don’t line up, she’s out of her mind, she’s practically an alcoholic, she probably wanted to hook up, he’s like an athlete right, they were both drunk, whatever, the hospital stuff she remembers is after the fact, why take it into account, Brock has a lot at stake so he’s having a really hard time right now.

People have a right to a defense. Lawyers have a duty to provide the best defense they can. That doesn’t mean, however, that there’s no alternative ethically speaking. People have a right to a defense, but they’re not required to avail themselves of the right. Brock could have said he did it and he’s sorry; instead he chose to damage the woman some more, in fact a lot more.

And then it came time for him to testify and I learned what it meant to be revictimized. I want to remind you, the night after it happened he said he never planned to take me back to his dorm. He said he didn’t know why we were behind a dumpster. He got up to leave because he wasn’t feeling well when he was suddenly chased and attacked. Then he learned I could not remember.

So one year later, as predicted, a new dialogue emerged. Brock had a strange new story, almost sounded like a poorly written young adult novel with kissing and dancing and hand holding and lovingly tumbling onto the ground, and most importantly in this new story, there was suddenly consent. One year after the incident, he remembered, oh yeah, by the way she actually said yes, to everything, so.

He said he had asked if I wanted to dance. Apparently I said yes. He’d asked if I wanted to go to his dorm, I said yes. Then he asked if he could finger me and I said yes. Most guys don’t ask, can I finger you? Usually there’s a natural progression of things, unfolding consensually, not a Q and A. But apparently I granted full permission. He’s in the clear. Even in his story, I only said a total of three words, yes yes yes, before he had me half naked on the ground. Future reference, if you are confused about whether a girl can consent, see if she can speak an entire sentence. You couldn’t even do that. Just one coherent string of words. Where was the confusion? This is common sense, human decency.

According to him, the only reason we were on the ground was because I fell down. Note; if a girl falls down help her get back up. If she is too drunk to even walk and falls down, do not mount her, hump her, take off her underwear, and insert your hand inside her vagina. If a girl falls down help her up.

Let me repeat that for emphasis.

Note; if a girl falls down help her get back up. If she is too drunk to even walk and falls down, do not mount her, hump her, take off her underwear, and insert your hand inside her vagina. If a girl falls down help her up.

A girl who falls down isn’t like a tennis ball you find on an empty beach. She has more feelings than that.

Next in the story, two Swedes on bicycles approached you and you ran. When they tackled you why didn’t say, “Stop! Everything’s okay, go ask her, she’s right over there, she’ll tell you.” I mean you had just asked for my consent, right? I was awake, right? When the policeman arrived and interviewed the evil Swede who tackled you, he was crying so hard he couldn’t speak because of what he’d seen.

Your attorney has repeatedly pointed out, well we don’t know exactly when she became unconscious. And you’re right, maybe I was still fluttering my eyes and wasn’t completely limp yet. That was never the point. I was too drunk to speak English, too drunk to consent way before I was on the ground. I should have never been touched in the first place. Brock stated, “At no time did I see that she was not responding. If at any time I thought she was not responding, I would have stopped immediately.” Here’s the thing; if your plan was to stop only when I became unresponsive, then you still do not understand. You didn’t even stop when I was unconscious anyway! Someone else stopped you. Two guys on bikes noticed I wasn’t moving in the dark and had to tackle you. How did you not notice while on top of me?

You said, you would have stopped and gotten help. You say that, but I want you to explain how you would’ve helped me, step by step, walk me through this. I want to know, if those evil Swedes had not found me, how the night would have played out. I am asking you; Would you have pulled my underwear back on over my boots? Untangled the necklace wrapped around my neck? Closed my legs, covered me? Pick the pine needles from my hair? Asked if the abrasions on my neck and bottom hurt? Would you then go find a friend and say, Will you help me get her somewhere warm and soft? I don’t sleep when I think about the way it could have gone if the two guys had never come. What would have happened to me? That’s what you’ll never have a good answer for, that’s what you can’t explain even after a year.

On top of all this, he claimed that I orgasmed after one minute of digital penetration. The nurse said there had been abrasions, lacerations, and dirt in my genitalia. Was that before or after I came?

To sit under oath and inform all of us, that yes I wanted it, yes I permitted it, and that you are the true victim attacked by Swedes for reasons unknown to you is appalling, is demented, is selfish, is damaging. It is enough to be suffering. It is another thing to have someone ruthlessly working to diminish the gravity of validity of this suffering.

Especially when that someone is the one who caused the suffering in the first place.

You are guilty. Twelve jurors convicted you guilty of three felony counts beyond reasonable doubt, that’s twelve votes per count, thirty ­six yeses confirming guilt, that’s one hundred percent, unanimous guilt. And I thought finally it is over, finally he will own up to what he did, truly apologize, we will both move on and get better. ​Then I read your statement.

If you are hoping that one of my organs will implode from anger and I will die, I’m almost there. You are very close. This is not a story of another drunk college hook­up with poor decision making. Assault is not an accident. Somehow, you still don’t get it. Somehow, you still sound confused. I will now read portions of the defendant’s statement and respond to them.

You said, Being drunk I just couldn’t make the best decisions and neither could she.

Alcohol is not an excuse. Is it a factor? Yes. But alcohol was not the one who stripped me, fingered me, had my head dragging against the ground, with me almost fully naked. Having too much to drink was an amateur mistake that I admit to, but it is not criminal. Everyone in this room has had a night where they have regretted drinking too much, or knows someone close to them who has had a night where they have regretted drinking too much. Regretting drinking is not the same as regretting sexual assault. We were both drunk, the difference is I did not take off your pants and underwear, touch you inappropriately, and run away. That’s the difference.

Notice the difference between “I just couldn’t make the best decisions so I raped someone” and “neither could she so she got raped by me.” He got drunk and did very bad things to a person. She got drunk and did not do bad things to any person. It’s a terribly important difference.

You said, If I wanted to get to know her, I should have asked for her number, rather than asking her to go back to my room.

I’m not mad because you didn’t ask for my number. Even if you did know me, I would not want be in this situation. My own boyfriend knows me, but if he asked to finger me behind a dumpster, I would slap him. No girl wants to be in this situation. Nobody. I don’t care if you know their phone number or not.

You said, I stupidly thought it was okay for me to do what everyone around me was doing, which was drinking. I was wrong.

Again, you were not wrong for drinking. Everyone around you was not sexually assaulting me. You were wrong for doing what nobody else was doing, which was pushing your erect dick in your pants against my naked, defenseless body concealed in a dark area, where partygoers could no longer see or protect me, and my own sister could not find me. Sipping fireball is not your crime. Peeling off and discarding my underwear like a candy wrapper to insert your finger into my body, is where you went wrong. Why am I still explaining this.

She goes on pointing out his moral blindness, then says what he has done to her life, then discusses the sentence and the probation officer’s report. One item in particular caused an uptick in my level of horror:

The Probation Officer has stated that this case, when compared to other crimes of similar nature, may be considered less serious due to the defendant’s level of intoxication.


No it may not. Intoxication is not some covert form of consent. The intoxication of X does not give Y the right to beat or kick or rob or kidnap or murder or rape X.

At the end she thanks people who did not do bad things to her.

Most importantly, thank you to the two men who saved me, who I have yet to meet. I sleep with two bicycles that I drew taped above my bed to remind myself there are heroes in this story. That we are looking out for one another. To have known all of these people, to have felt their protection and love, is something I will never forget.

Don’t be Brock. Don’t ever be Brock in any way – don’t be so busy avoiding accountability for harm you did to someone that you pile up more harm to that very someone. Don’t defend your own precious self by slashing someone else’s precious self into ribbons. Don’t be that guy. Don’t be Brock. Let Brock become a word that means a selfish piece of shit.


Male instructors saw women as a “sexual challenge”

Jun 4th, 2016 10:55 am | By

And here’s another one

Young soldiers training at Deepcut Army barracks lived in a “highly sexualised” environment where senior staff preyed on recruits in an “abuse and misuse” of power, the British Army’s director of personal [CORR] services has admitted at the inquest into the death of Private Cheryl James.

A lack of supervision and welfare helped create such an environment at the barracks in Camberley, Surrey, Brigadier Donnelly said .

Pte James, 18, was found dead with a gunshot wound to her head in November 1995.

They did a new inquest because the one at the time may have missed some witnesses and some evidence.

There was a room for fucking set aside at the barracks.

Alison Foster QC, representing [Private James’s] family, asked Brig Donnelly about evidence of a sexualised atmosphere and abuse of power at the barracks. “There was certainly a sexualised atmosphere at Deepcut, yes,” he told the hearing.

Ms Foster asked: “Do you accept that this could present a morally chaotic environment for a young female person of teenage years? … The pressure on a young female recruit could be intolerable, couldn’t it?”

Brig Donnelly replied: “Yes. We did not have the structures in place to provide a proper duty of care.”

When asked if there was a culture of misogyny in the Army, Brig Donnelly said: “The attitude and language in certain parts of the Army represented a misogynistic viewpoint, which is seen as of its time.”

Seen by whom? It’s not as if 1995 pre-dates feminism, nor is it as if misogyny has gone away now. In other words, “of its time” my ass – all times are misogyny time.

The inquest also heard that male instructors saw women as a “sexual challenge” and that senior ranks sexually propositioned female recruits. Jane Worboys, who did basic training with Pte James after joining up in May 1995, said that shortly before her death Pte James had been locked in a room by a sergeant who harassed her. “He tried to have his way with her. She told me that he had locked the door and was chasing her around the desk. As far as I am aware, nothing physically happened on that occasion.”

Locking the door is physical. Chasing is physical.

In a statement, Emma Norton, a lawyer for human rights group Liberty who represents Mr and Mrs James, said: “Over the last two days Mr James has listened to Brigadier John Donnelly give evidence about life in Deepcut barracks in 1995, when his daughter was there. Mr and Mrs James, for the first time in 20 years, have received a public acknowledgement of some of the concerns they have been raising all this time and a formal apology from the MoD. Liberty and the James family would like to acknowledge this important step.”

Pte James, from North Wales, was one of four young recruits found shot dead at Deepcut between 1995 and 2002, amid claims of a bullying culture.

That’s a sad sad story.

Off your bike

Jun 4th, 2016 9:57 am | By

What is religion for? To strip away all rights from women and girls, in order to imprison them at home and prevent them from doing anything other than domestic and sexual / reproductive service. At least that’s often how it appears. Now it’s riding bikes, for girls over five. (Yeah, girls of six are such sluts – I notice that every day.)

An ultra-orthodox Jewish leader has reportedly banned girls aged five and older in some areas of Israel from riding bicycles – claiming it is “immodest”.

The rabbi of the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Nahloat distributed the stringent decree to his followers in synagogues across the area.

He had said young girls riding bicycles could “cause serious damage to their modesty” and that bicycle seats caused young girls to sit in a way men found “provocative”, according to the Arutz Sheva 7 website.

The hell with men. Men should deal with their own shit, not make women deal with it by abandoning all activity.

In December ultra-orthodox rabbis requested women in Israeli city Bnei Brak refrain from studying in higher education, according to Yeshida World News website.

They claimed institutions which teach secular subjects presented a real danger, and that girls and women should not study.

This is what I mean. They must get their jollies this way, listing all the good things women and girls can’t do, have, see, watch, hear, say, read. Hahaha we can study and you can’t, we can ride bikes and you can’t.

And the irony is. The scorching fucking irony is, that’s exactly what the Nazis did to the Jews. Anne Frank notes the moment when she and Margo can’t ride their bikes any more. Forbidding universities to enroll Jews came very early – no study for Jews. But when it’s just girls and women – oh that’s not hideous sadistic bigotry any more, that’s just normal.

By the way, he’s really good at swimming

Jun 4th, 2016 9:11 am | By

The victim of the Stanford rapist read him a letter describing the “severe impact” the assault had on her at his sentencing. BuzzFeed has that letter. Everyone should read it.

The woman, now 23, told BuzzFeed News she was disappointed with the “gentle” sentence and angry that Turner still denied sexually assaulting her.

“Even if the sentence is light, hopefully this will wake people up,” she said. “I want the judge to know that he ignited a tiny fire. If anything, this is a reason for all of us to speak even louder.”

So spread the word.

She doesn’t bury the lede:

You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today.

You shouldn’t go inside people you don’t know unless they invite you. Really.

On January 17th, 2015, it was a quiet Saturday night at home. My dad made some dinner and I sat at the table with my younger sister who was visiting for the weekend. I was working full time and it was approaching my bed time. I planned to stay at home by myself, watch some TV and read, while she went to a party with her friends. Then, I decided it was my only night with her, I had nothing better to do, so why not, there’s a dumb party ten minutes from my house, I would go, dance like a fool, and embarrass my younger sister. On the way there, I joked that undergrad guys would have braces. My sister teased me for wearing a beige cardigan to a frat party like a librarian. I called myself “big mama”, because I knew I’d be the oldest one there. I made silly faces, let my guard down, and drank liquor too fast not factoring in that my tolerance had significantly lowered since college.

The next thing I remember I was in a gurney in a hallway. I had dried blood and bandages on the backs of my hands and elbow. I thought maybe I had fallen and was in an admin office on campus. I was very calm and wondering where my sister was. A deputy explained I had been assaulted. I still remained calm, assured he was speaking to the wrong person. I knew no one at this party. When I was finally allowed to use the restroom, I pulled down the hospital pants they had given me, went to pull down my underwear, and felt nothing. I still remember the feeling of my hands touching my skin and grabbing nothing. I looked down and there was nothing. The thin piece of fabric, the only thing between my vagina and anything else, was missing and everything inside me was silenced. I still don’t have words for that feeling. In order to keep breathing, I thought maybe the policemen used scissors to cut them off for evidence.

She found her hair was full of pine needles. For hours she shuffled from room to room being examined.

I had multiple swabs inserted into my vagina and anus, needles for shots, pills, had a Nikon pointed right into my spread legs. I had long, pointed beaks inside me and had my vagina smeared with cold, blue paint to check for abrasions.

After a few hours of this, they let me shower. I stood there examining my body beneath the stream of water and decided, I don’t want my body anymore. I was terrified of it, I didn’t know what had been in it, if it had been contaminated, who had touched it. I wanted to take off my body like a jacket and leave it at the hospital with everything else.

She went to a party last minute with her younger sister, and goofed around and drank too much too fast – and the next thing she knew, all that.

That day she was told only that she had been found behind a dumpster, potentially penetrated by a stranger, and should get retested for HIV. They gave her a new sweatshirt and sweatpants because they kept all her clothes.

My sister picked me up, face wet from tears and contorted in anguish. Instinctively and immediately, I wanted to take away her pain. I smiled at her, I told her to look at me, I’m right here, I’m okay, everything’s okay, I’m right here. My hair is washed and clean, they gave me the strangest shampoo, calm down, and look at me. Look at these funny new sweatpants and sweatshirt, I look like a P.E. teacher, let’s go home, let’s eat something. She did not know that beneath my sweatsuit, I had scratches and bandages on my skin, my vagina was sore and had become a strange, dark color from all the prodding, my underwear was missing, and I felt too empty to continue to speak. That I was also afraid, that I was also devastated. That day we drove home and for hours in silence my younger sister held me.

All that because some entitled guy wanted to shove his penis in someone. Some brief fun for him, at the price of all that and more for her. It’s out of proportion.

I tried to push it out of my mind, but it was so heavy I didn’t talk, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t interact with anyone. After work, I would drive to a secluded place to scream. I didn’t talk, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t interact with anyone, and I became isolated from the ones I loved most. For over a week after the incident, I didn’t get any calls or updates about that night or what happened to me. The only symbol that proved that it hadn’t just been a bad dream, was the sweatshirt from the hospital in my drawer.

One day, I was at work, scrolling through the news on my phone, and came across an article. In it, I read and learned for the first time about how I was found unconscious, with my hair disheveled, long necklace wrapped around my neck, bra pulled out of my dress, dress pulled off over my shoulders and pulled up above my waist, that I was butt naked all the way down to my boots, legs spread apart, and had been penetrated by a foreign object by someone I did not recognize. This was how I learned what happened to me, sitting at my desk reading the news at work. I learned what happened to me the same time everyone else in the world learned what happened to me. That’s when the pine needles in my hair made sense, they didn’t fall from a tree. He had taken off my underwear, his fingers had been inside of me. I don’t even know this person. I still don’t know this person. When I read about me like this, I said, this can’t be me, this can’t be me. I could not digest or accept any of this information. I could not imagine my family having to read about this online. I kept reading. In the next paragraph, I read something that I will never forgive; I read that according to him, I liked it. I liked it. Again, I do not have words for these feelings.

On the other hand – he is an athlete. So.

And then, at the bottom of the article, after I learned about the graphic details of my own sexual assault, the article listed his swimming times. She was found breathing, unresponsive with her underwear six inches away from her bare stomach curled in fetal position. By the way, he’s really good at swimming. Throw in my mile time if that’s what we’re doing. I’m good at cooking, put that in there, I think the end is where you list your extracurriculars to cancel out all the sickening things that’ve happened.

Let me just repeat that.

She was found breathing, unresponsive with her underwear six inches away from her bare stomach curled in fetal position. By the way, he’s really good at swimming.

Now here’s how this works – he was able to rape her because she was too drunk to resist, and because she was too drunk to resist, she was also too drunk to remember – so he was able to use that in his defense.

The night after it happened, he said he didn’t know my name, said he wouldn’t be able to identify my face in a lineup, didn’t mention any dialogue between us, no words, only dancing and kissing. Dancing is a cute term; was it snapping fingers and twirling dancing, or just bodies grinding up against each other in a crowded room? I wonder if kissing was just faces sloppily pressed up against each other? When the detective asked if he had planned on taking me back to his dorm, he said no. When the detective asked how we ended up behind the dumpster, he said he didn’t know. He admitted to kissing other girls at that party, one of whom was my own sister who pushed him away. He admitted to wanting to hook up with someone. I was the wounded antelope of the herd, completely alone and vulnerable, physically unable to fend for myself, and he chose me. Sometimes I think, if I hadn’t gone, then this never would’ve happened. But then I realized, it would have happened, just to somebody else. You were about to enter four years of access to drunk girls and parties, and if this is the foot you started off on, then it is right you did not continue. The night after it happened, he said he thought I liked it because I rubbed his back. A back rub.

Never mentioned me voicing consent, never mentioned us even speaking, a back rub. One more time, in public news, I learned that my ass and vagina were completely exposed outside, my breasts had been groped, fingers had been jabbed inside me along with pine needles and debris, my bare skin and head had been rubbing against the ground behind a dumpster, while an erect freshman was humping my half naked, unconscious body. But I don’t remember, so how do I prove I didn’t like it.

I thought there’s no way this is going to trial; there were witnesses, there was dirt in my body, he ran but was caught. He’s going to settle, formally apologize, and we will both move on. Instead, I was told he hired a powerful attorney, expert witnesses, private investigators who were going to try and find details about my personal life to use against me, find loopholes in my story to invalidate me and my sister, in order to show that this sexual assault was in fact a misunderstanding. That he was going to go to any length to convince the world he had simply been confused.

I was not only told that I was assaulted, I was told that because I couldn’t remember, I technically could not prove it was unwanted. And that distorted me, damaged me, almost broke me. It is the saddest type of confusion to be told I was assaulted and nearly raped, blatantly out in the open, but we don’t know if it counts as assault yet. I had to fight for an entire year to make it clear that there was something wrong with this situation.

To be continued. I think we need time to digest.

The clitoris: exclusionary and problematic

Jun 3rd, 2016 5:03 pm | By

Susan Cox at Feminist Current reports an odd exclusion:

Lady*fest, a feminist festival scheduled to take place June 22nd – 25th in Heidelberg, Germany, has declared the clitoris “exclusionary.”

The festival, which features workshops, lectures, and art, had initially planned to include topics like, “clitoris/glitzoris” and “masturbation” as part of their art exhibition, but protocol documents from the last planning meeting now explain that the clitoris is “problematic,” because it refers to female anatomy.

Well excuuuuuuuse the fuck out of me – should we all get them chopped off then? Does that idea sound vaguely familiar?

I can’t wait for our trans racial allies to start saying black skin is “problematic” because it refers to something about black bodies.

Except of course I can wait for that, I can wait forever for that, because it would be grotesque and disgusting. Why do so many people think it’s perfectly all right when it comes to women?

The festival organizers have stated that, due to being a “queer Lady*fest,” it shouldn’t empower “only certain groups,” such as those with clitorises, and that the festival will not be “excluding any groups” by referencing female anatomy. Lady*fest claims these actions embody their policy, which translates to, “be tender to all genders,” and that being mindful of how female anatomy offends people will provide “a safer space to all human beings by applying awareness.”

So then why have a “Lady” fest? Why have feminism? Why not just give up struggling and join the MRAs when they cry, “I’m not a feminist, I’m a humanist”? Why not just spell it out that you think women are the only truly privileged people on the planet, and should be taken down a peg or ten?

Naida Pintul, a radical feminist and former organizer of Lady*fest who lives in Heidelberg, is critical of the decision. She told me via email, “Female anatomy has become a taboo.”

“This is a postmodern version of the same old hatred of female bodies and their biology. Once again, we are not supposed to talk about the reality and the consequences of having our female reproductive organs.”

We’re not supposed to talk about abortion as a women’s rights issue. We’re not supposed to talk about pregnancy as something particularly relevant to women. We’re not supposed to destigmatize the vulva by having vulva cupcakes at festivals.

Initially, the decorating of “vulva cupcakes” was planned as an activity to celebrate and destigmatize female anatomy. This event was also cancelled by festival planners on account of vulva cupcakes not being “inclusive” of everyone’s identity.

Erase all the women.

The other day I commented on a post by a male friend about George Tiller in response to someone who made a sarcastic remark about how great abortion is. The following exchange happened:

Me: If you need one, it fucking well is.

Male friend: I support the availability of abortion only in the most extreme cases. Like when a woman is pregnant and doesn’t want to be.

A woman: Like when a person is pregnant and doesn’t want to be, yep.

A woman found it necessary to jump in and correct the guy who said, wittily, “I support the availability of abortion only in the most extreme cases. Like when a woman is pregnant and doesn’t want to be.” A woman thought that was necessary and worthwhile. A woman thought it was wrong to talk about pregnancy and abortion as something to do with women.

This shit has to stop.

Bowling for cats

Jun 3rd, 2016 11:24 am | By

Cats sleeping in awkward positions:

Is that theft of services or rape?

Jun 3rd, 2016 10:46 am | By

Darren Geist at Rolling Stone has 5 reasons to be wary of Amnesty’s position on prostitution.

In its report, Amnesty frames prostitution as sex work, pimps as legitimate sex business operators and johns as customers. This approach to prostitution is irresponsible and has been opposed by more than 600 leading organizations and individuals in the women’s rights, human rights and anti-human trafficking fields.

But they can all be called whorephobic and dismissed.

The first reason is that decrim will increase sex trafficking.

Prostitution has been decriminalized or legalized in several countries, and the results have been clear: Sex trafficking and criminal activities have increased or, at best, remained constant. Even Amsterdam had to impose greater restrictions on its prostitution industry to deal with rising crime. Denmark, where prostitution was decriminalized in 1999, has four times as many sex-trafficking victims as nearby Sweden, even though Sweden’s population is 40 percent larger.

These conclusions are backed up by three recent studies of global databases. All three — a World Development paper, University of Gothenburg study and NYU School of Law report — found that decriminalizing drastically increases the demand for prostitution by reducing the associated stigma and costs.

It’s not hard to see why that might be. If cocaine were available at Safeway next to the aspirin and Ibuprofen, more people would buy it.

Next, decrim will make life worse for prostitutes.

Prostitution’s decriminalization typically has a race-to-the-bottom effect where prostitutes are pressured to offer more for less. Prostitutes in Germany, for instance, often put in 18-hour days and live in the rooms out of which they work — hardly a healthy environment. Prostitutes also end up offering a wider range of risky services, including unprotected sex, anal sex, group sex, BDSM and acting out torture or rape fantasies. In New Zealand, women in brothels have reported that “men now demand more than ever for less than ever. And because the trade is socially sanctioned, there is no incentive for the government to provide exit strategies for those who want to get out of it. These women are trapped.”

But it’s whorephobic to say that.

And then there’s the issue of consent, aka “agency.”

Over the past several years, consent to sex has been a hot topic of debate — but Amnesty largely ignores its complexities. What counts as voluntary prostitution is highly contested. We know that prostitutes are predominantly from disadvantaged and vulnerable communities. We know that entry into prostitution is often preceded by prolonged and repeated trauma, that rape was the first sexual experience of most prostitutes, and that a majority of prostitutes were victims of child sexual abuse. We know that many sex traffickers groom their victims, fostering romantic relationships with them before leveraging those attachments into commercial exploitation. We also know women who enter into prostitution do so at a very young age. While exact numbers are impossible, several controversial studies have put the average age of entry between 12 and 14; others have found that the majority entered prior to 18, and an international study found that 47 percent entered before age 18. Under the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act, any minor — person under 18 — in prostitution is a victim of sex trafficking. Yet in Amnesty’s framework, regardless of a prostitute’s history of exploitation or age of entry into sex work, prostitution is considered consensual from the day she turns 18.

And that’s treated as “respecting” the prostitute’s “agency” – which I think is a perverse way of looking at it.

And then there’s the rape culture reason, which I’ve always considered all but undeniable. If prostitution is okie doke, then rape becomes just a property crime.

Amnesty’s embrace of commercial sex feeds rape culture by trivializing sex, weakening gender equality and treating sex as something that can bought and sold. But sex is — and should be — treated differently from other activities. It is a uniquely personal and private act. Rape is categorically worse than other forms of assault precisely because it is a more intimate violation. The human rights push against anti-sodomy laws was also grounded in a belief that sexual activity deserved special protection.

Decriminalization of prostitution will lead to bizarre (and morally troubling) legal problems. If a client and prostitute reach an agreement for services and the client “exceeds” those agreed-upon services, is that theft of services or rape? If police are investigating the incident, should they, at first instance, treat it as a contract dispute or a sexual assault? These problems are created by Amnesty’s framework, in which sex is treated as just another commodity.


The final item is yo, this is economic libertarianism, and since when is that a left thing?

The government prohibits a wide range of economic activity, and groups like Amnesty usually advocate for robust regulation because of concerns about labor-right violations, work conditions and abuse of workers. But in this case, Amnesty proposes a decriminalization of an industry known to be highly dangerous, rife with corruption and violence, frequently if not by definition sexually exploitative and at a high risk of sex trafficking.

Not to mention harming mostly women, for the sexual pleasure of mostly men.

Amnesty’s proposal perverts human-rights and women’s-rights principles. It sacrifices the concerns and welfares of the vast majority of prostitutes, who are caught in an exploitative and brutal industry. As a result, Amnesty has staked out a position that will be a boon to pimps and sex traffickers, and will do great damage to the human rights of the men, women and children caught in the sex industry.

Especially the women and girls.

Stoic in court

Jun 3rd, 2016 9:36 am | By

Won’t somebody please think of the rapists? At least the white, handsome, star athlete ones?

A former Stanford University athlete convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman was sentenced to six months in county jail and probation in a case that has shed light on what advocates say is an epidemic of violence on college campuses.

Brock Allen Turner, a 20-year-old swimmer who dropped out of the elite California university last year, appeared stoic in court in Palo Alto on Thursday, two months after a jury convicted him of multiple felonies, including assault with intent to rape an intoxicated woman.

Turner, who is from Dayton, Ohio, was arrested on the Palo Alto campus on 18 January 2015 after two Stanford graduate students spotted him lying on top of the victim outside of a Kappa Alpha party behind a dumpster. When officers arrived, the woman, who is not a Stanford student, was “completely unresponsive” and partially clothed, with a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit, according to police.

She was resting. She was unresponsive because she was thinking about something. And resting.

The two witnesses who were biking past that evening said they saw Turner “thrusting” on top of the motionless woman and that they intervened and held him until police showed up.

Turner, who had a blood-alcohol level that was twice the legal limit, testified in court that he could walk and talk at the time and acknowledged that the victim was “very drunk”. He claimed that he did not intend to rape the woman and that the encounter was consensual.

Sadly for Turner, the victim doesn’t agree that the “encounter” was consensual.

After a jury convicted Turner of sexually penetrating an intoxicated and unconscious person with a foreign object, prosecutors asked a judge to sentence him to six years in California prison. Probation officials had recommended the significantly lighter penalty of six months in county jail, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

The judge, Aaron Perksy, cited Turner’s age and lack of criminal history as factors in his decision, saying, “A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him … I think he will not be a danger to others.”

After the hearing, Santa Clara County district attorney Jeff Rosen slammed the sentencing, which will likely result in Turner spending three months behind bars – a fraction of the maximum 14 years he was potentially facing.

Yes but he’s an athlete. He was at Stanford. He’s white. Each item is worth several years off his sentence.

The high-profile case intensified scrutiny of rapes at US colleges and comes at a time when national leaders and activists across the country have increasingly raised alarms about the culture of sexual violence on university campuses.

A recent White House survey found that 10% of female college students experience some form of sexual assault and that only 12.5% of rapes are reported.

Turner’s case attracted significant attention in part because criminal prosecutions of campus rape cases are rare. In recent years, there have also been growing concerns about the ways in which universities protect athletes accused of sexual assault.

But athletes are the whole point of universities. Of course universities protect them…male athletes, at least.


Jun 2nd, 2016 5:34 pm | By

Unlike me, Anna Merlan at Jezebel didn’t like Jimmy Carter’s opinion piece on prostitution and decriminalization. She didn’t bother to be especially honest about it though.

Writing for the Washington Post, Carter editorialized that sex work is bad and oppressive. He’s against Amnesty International’s call to decriminalize all aspects of adult, consensual sex work, because he doesn’t think consensual sex work is real.

Some assert that this “profession” can be empowering and that legalizing and regulating all aspects of prostitution will mitigate the harm that accompanies it. But I cannot accept a policy prescription that codifies such a pernicious form of violence against women. Normalizing the act of buying sex also debases men by assuming that they are entitled to access women’s bodies for sexual gratification. If paying for sex is normalized, then every young boy will learn that women and girls are commodities to be bought and sold.

(Emphasis mine.)

It’s curious to suggest that decriminalizing sex work would lead to a wholesale devaluation of womanhood, but other aspects of Carter’s argument aren’t new.

You see what she did there? Se casually translated what Carter said into something else – she bolded his words, just as I did, but then she misrepresented them. He didn’t say “decriminalizing sex work would lead to a wholesale devaluation of womanhood”; he said something more interesting than that, and less easy to brush aside. Maybe that’s why she ignored it in favor of something sillier and more banal.

Explain to me why he’s wrong. Why is he wrong to say that normalizing the rental of women for sex will teach boys that women and girls are commodities to be bought and sold? Why wouldn’t it do that? If it becomes legal to buy and sell access to women, isn’t that teaching boys that women are a category of people who can be rented? Not simply paid to do some work, but rented for access.

But then again – human beings do have a long history of rising above prejudices of that kind, and treating everyone as an equal no matter what cues their society gives them.

Cue hollow laughter.

Moran on Bazelon

Jun 2nd, 2016 5:07 pm | By

Rachel Moran says there’s a lot wrong with Emily Bazelon’s NY Times Magazine piece about the decriminalization of prostitution.

Bazelon’s mischaracterization of the issue of prostitution, in my opinion, was confirmed and reaffirmed in her article in ways too numerous to document here. Her piece has had to be corrected three times (including her contention that Dutch prostitution is confined to Amsterdam, when it is, as any European could tell you, countrywide.) U.S. psychologist and academic Melissa Farley, who was quoted in Bazelon’s article, has filed a demand for correction of Bazelon’s misquote of Farley; as of this writing (June 1, 2016), the New York Times has refused to correct it.

Bazelon also stated that there had been no reported cases of trafficking in New Zealand, somehow managing to miss that on April 14, 2015, Naengnoi Sriphet was sentenced to 27 months in prison by Auckland District Court for recruiting women from Thailand to work in a “massage parlour” in Auckland.

Bazelon’s fact-checker contacted me to ask whether it would be fair to say that I believed Amnesty International had taken its pro-decriminalization stance from pimps and sex-traffickers. I responded that it would not be fair to say so without qualifying that statement, and I reminded her of what I’d told Bazelon several times already: that Amnesty International had taken their cues from the Global Network of Sex Work Projects, then co-chaired by Alejandra Gil, who has since been convicted and is serving a 15-year sentence in a Mexican prison for sex trafficking.

Bazelon ignored my conversation with her fact-checker and attributed to me a one-line fragment of what I’d said, making no mention of the Global Network of Sex Work Projects, Gil or her sex-trafficking conviction.

That’s crappy. Surely it’s an important piece of information, that Rachel Moran says Amnesty International had taken their cues from a group co-chaired by a convicted sex trafficker.

Then there’s the account by Sabrinna Valisce that Bazelon omitted entirely.

It is to be hoped, going forward, that institutions of influence will pay attention to voices of experience from within these regimes. Sabrinna Valisce fought long and hard for what she believed to be right when she campaigned to pass New Zealand’s Prostitution Reform Act. She was subsequently violated and abused within the same system she fought for. It took courage for her to publicly admit she was mistaken. Now that she is speaking out about it, we owe it to her—and to women around the world—to listen.

But that would be such a downer.

Every young boy will learn that women and girls are commodities

Jun 2nd, 2016 11:16 am | By

Jimmy Carter in the Washington Post:

It is disturbing that some human rights and public health organizations are advocating the full legalization of the sex trade, including its most abusive aspects. I agree with Amnesty International, UNAIDS and other groups that say that those who sell sex acts should not be arrested or prosecuted, but I cannot support proposals to decriminalize buyers and pimps.

Some assert that this “profession” can be empowering and that legalizing and regulating all aspects of prostitution will mitigate the harm that accompanies it. But I cannot accept a policy prescription that codifies such a pernicious form of violence against women. Normalizing the act of buying sex also debases men by assuming that they are entitled to access women’s bodies for sexual gratification. If paying for sex is normalized, then every young boy will learn that women and girls are commodities to be bought and sold.

Emphasis added.

I’d love to know how the libertarian feminists get around that – really know how they do, not just hear their babble about “agency” again.

Carter prefers the Nordic model.

Critics of the Nordic model assert that mature adults should be free to exchange money for sex. This argument ignores the power imbalance that defines the vast majority of sex-for-cash transactions, and it demeans the beauty of sexual relations when both parties are respected.

Sex between people who experience mutual enjoyment is a wonderful part of life. But when one party has power over another to demand sexual access, mutuality is extinguished, and the act becomes an expression of domination. As author and prostitution survivor Rachel Moran explained in her book, “Paid For,” once money has exchanged hands, a woman must deliver whatever service the customer demands.

Check out Rachel Moran on Twitter to see her passion on this subject.

In May 2015, when the Carter Center held a global summit to end sexual exploitation, sex-trade survivors, including Moran, described their painful journeys through exploitation. They told of the abuse they suffered — abuse that should be understood as torture. They expressed their determination to speak not only for themselves but also for those who are either too traumatized to come forward or who perished as a result of homicide, suicide, drug abuse or disease. They compare their movement to the abolition of slavery, an institution that once also seemed like a permanent fixture in society.

Prostitution is not the “oldest profession,” as the saying goes; it’s the oldest oppression.

Those survivors told us that they once believed that selling sex was their choice but that this attitude was a requirement for survival — that only once they were fully free from the fetters of the trade were they able to fully understand their lack of choice.

If full legalization is adopted, it will not be the “empowered sex worker” who will be the norm — it will be the millions of women and girls needed to fill the supply of bodies that an unlimited market of consumers will demand.


Women and girls as commodities to be bought and sold.


Jun 2nd, 2016 10:59 am | By

The Catholic mafia at work

Jun 2nd, 2016 10:48 am | By

Speaking of fascists…the Catholic church spent 2 million dollars lobbying against a New York law that would make it easier for victims of child sex abuse to sue their attackers. Tell me again about how religion is all about compassion. Tell me again about the connection between religion and morality.

The state’s Catholic Conference has hired some of New York’s most influential lobbying firms, including Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker, Patricia Lynch & Associates, Hank Sheinkopf, and Mark Behan Communications. They spent more than $2.1 million from 2007 through 2015 lobbying against the Child Victims Act and for or against other bills, according to state records.

The Child Victims Act, introduced by Democratic Assemblywoman Margaret Markey, would eliminate the statute of limitations that currently requires victims to file civil lawsuits by age 23. It would also give those who can no longer sue under current law a one-year window to file a civil suit.

And the Catholic church considers it appropriate for the Catholic church to try to block that, for self-interested reasons.

The New York Catholic Conference filings show they hired lobbyists to work on issues of “statute of limitations” and “timelines for commencing certain civil actions related to sex offenses,” among other topics. These reports come after Cardinal Timothy Dolan, head of the New York Archdiocese, was criticized for not wanting to talk about the allegations of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church or the Child Victims Act, the New York Daily News reported in a separate story earlier this month.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan thinks it’s very unfair for news media to talk about child rape in the Catholic church at all.

“They are willing to spend limitless money in order to basically keep bad guys from being accountable for their actions,” Melanie Blow, chief operations officer of the Stop Abuse Campaign, told the Daily News. “I think they’re doing it because they don’t want to have to pay out settlements.”

In New York, the Catholic Conference has said it does not oppose victims getting justice but wants any new laws to ensure the same rules apply to both public and private institutions. New York Senate Republicans oppose the one-year window for victims who are already past the statute of limitations.

Bollocks. It wants to protect its own.

Not even a dog whistle

Jun 2nd, 2016 10:21 am | By

Saletan on Trump’s open racism:

Republicans who have sworn allegiance to Donald Trump—the majority leaders of the United States House and Senate, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, and numerous governors and members of Congress—don’t think this country can return to the racism and fascism of the 20th century. They want us to believe that Trump will respect the norms of the post-Holocaust, post-segregation era because they support him. In truth, their capitulation should alarm us. As other countries have learned, the first step in the descent to racism and fascism is to become numb to them. Over the past week, we’ve received fresh evidence that the numbing process is underway.

Most Germans didn’t think Hitler was going to be what he went on to be. That was a big mistake.

On Friday, at a rally in San Diego, Trump claimed that the federal judge who is hearing the fraud case against Trump’s real-estate “university” isbiased and corrupt—in part, apparently, because the judge is “Mexican.”

Trump has previously portrayed people as biased or untrustworthy, based purely on Latino ancestry, on at least four occasions. Last summer, after retweeting an allegation that Jeb Bush “has to like the Mexican illegals because of his wife,” Trump defended this claim on the grounds that Bush’s wife—who had been an American citizen for more than 35 years—was “from Mexico.” On Dec. 12 and Dec. 29, Trump suggested to Republican audiences in Iowa that they shouldn’t vote for Sen. Ted Cruz because “not too many evangelicals come out of Cuba.” In February, Trump accused Gonzalo Curiel, the judge in the Trump University case, of conspiring against him, calling Curiel “Spanish” and “Hispanic.” When Trump was asked to explain the connection between the judge’s alleged bias and his ethnicity, Trump said: “I think it has to do with perhaps the fact that I’m very, very strong on the border.”

Trump’s attack on Friday continued in this vein. “I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump,” he told a crowd in San Diego. “His name is”— at this point, Trump, having raised his voice like a drum roll, held up a piece of paper and pronounced the name carefully, gesturing for effect—“Gonzalo Curiel.” The audience booed, and Trump let the moment soak in, shaking his head in solidarity. Trump told the audience two things about Curiel: that he “was appointed by Barack Obama” and that he “happens to be, we believe, Mexican.” After railing against Curiel and the lawsuit for more than 10 minutes, Trump concluded: “The judges in this court system, federal court—they ought to look into Judge Curiel.”

Let’s recap. At least five times in the past year, the candidate who is now the Republican nominee for president has implied that certain public officials are suspect, or are acting against the national interest, because they or their family members are Latino. This isn’t a complaint about illegal immigrants. It’s not even a dog whistle. It’s a straight-up appeal to prejudice. It’s about the color of your skin, the sound of your last name, and where your ancestors came from.

We’ve seen this before. Let’s not see the whole show again.