Tag Archives: rape

More on Kavanaugh, the #Metoo Movement, and the eternal youth of white people

Kangaroo

The Judge Kavanaugh defense is a shameful farce on all fronts. First off, the preemptive strategy of selling him a great basketball coach and father to two daughters, surrounding him with young girls when they initially presented him was very suspect. They never did that for Judge Gorsuch. Also, it was very suspect that the Republicans had a signed testimony from 65 women who attests to Gorsuch’s good character in high school well-prepared prior to the allegations about him attempting to rape women ever surfaced. Why was there ever a need for such a document? Does Gorsuch have a similar document at the ready during his confirmation process?

The most common defense, which something Donald Trump has echoed, is that the women are liars, that they are confused or that they have an agenda. This is the oldest, most sexist defense of all. Tucker Carlson, in his most un-self-aware moment of television, even compared the whole unfolding fiasco to the Salem witch trials, to which, if I remember the play correctly, involved women being falsely accused and foregoing reason in favor of a moral panic. It is doubly ironic because at the moment, Republicans in Congress don’t even want to investigate the women’s allegations. So no investigations… they are simply all liars, and the poor judge is a victim of hysteria and political assassination. The Salem witch trials seem more thorough in comparison.

But what’s more disturbing is the now growing defense of letting boys be boys. The judge was seventeen at the time (and his accuser was 15). Boys will always be aggressive, and men should never be judged for their actions as children. Forget that the action in question was attempted rape. And as time passes, it would seem to be a pattern of organized attempted rapes and sexual harassment. CNN, in an effort to be non-partisan, has been parading women defending the action of boys, poor boys who are merely acting on their hormones. Besides, what happened was more than 36 years ago. If it did happen, it was far too long ago, and the good judge has grown to be quite the upstanding citizen, so upstanding that he’s earned the nomination to be the next Supreme Court judge.  But let me count the ways on how awful this defense is.

  1. Minority children are often never afforded the same courtesy of being young and immature. They are more often prosecuted as adults and described as menacing. Look at what happened to Trayvon Martin. He was shot for walking in his neighborhood. He wasn’t attempting to rape anyone. And closer to Donald Trump, look at the Central Park Five which he campaigned to be sent to prison despite being proven innocent of gang rape. They were 15 at the time. Being young and innocent is often a white privilege. Minority children are treated as grown men way too soon while white men are treated as men way too late. Want proof? Look at Don. Jr. He’s a grown man with kids, but he’s often talked about like a bumbling teenager.
  2. Saying that boys will be boys, that these things happen, and that groping is as innocent as snapping bras for teenagers is basically admitting to the fact that the judge probably did what he was accused of doing. If so, that would make him a liar, wouldn’t it? A teenage boy who sexually harassed women and attempted to rape them in his “youthful innocence” is far from the straight-laced Christian he is selling himself as. Also, that would make him someone who lied in front of Congress. People get disqualified applying for jobs when they openly lie in front of their potential employers.
  3. It is never okay to attempt rape at any age. It is not a teachable moment. And when the judge’s supporters say that the #Metoo movement makes every man a target, it doesn’t. It makes every rapist a target. It makes everyone with sexual harassment or assault in their past a target. I don’t have any sexual harassment in my past whatsoever. I’m not intimidated by the #Metoo movement at all. I have not come close to what the judge is being accused of doing. I’m sure a lot of men have nothing to fear from it as well.
  4. Consent is key and it should be within context. The women accusing Kavanaugh say that they never gave consent especially as minors. I would hate to live in a world where a minor consenting to sexual relations is judged as valid as consent from a grown adult, especially in a setting as a high school party filled with drugs and alcohol. That’s a horrible setting to assign a legally-binding consent. Now, contrast this with the way Kavanaugh treated the relations between President Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, two consenting adults.
  5. The whole notion of restorative justice relies on the fact that the perpetrator of the crime admits to the crime and has reformed and is no longer a threat to society as a whole, making amends to those he/she has wronged in the process. When people say that the events took place long time ago and that the judge is now reformed, they ignore the fact that the judge has never admitted to anything. No confession, no apology, no restorative justice. How can there be justice when the very existence of a crime and yes, even victims, is simply denied? If anything, the whole fiasco reeks of a separate crime in itself, a cover-up.

What is interesting is that Kavanaugh recently admitted to being a virgin in high school in order to disprove the rape allegations. He is willing to say that he was a popular student and an athlete who never had a sexual encounter in high school rather than admit to being a tad too aggressive and admitting to mistakes. Instead of being weak and human, he chose to go to an even higher moral pedestal. Boys and girls, not only was he richer, smarter, and more popular than you, Jesus also loves him more. Of course, it is much, MUCH easier to admit to being a virgin in high school and taking on its stigma after so many years has passed, now that you have nothing much to lose from it. Compare that to admitting you were an attempted rape victim back then and taking on death threats.

I initially though that Kavanaugh will ultimately be confirmed as a Supreme Court justice, but the events of the past few days had me rethinking my initial prediction. I could still be correct, but there is a growing possibility that he would not survive this and that he could very well lose his district judge position. Here’s hoping that he does lose everything. The world is a dumpster fire at the moment, which is why I still think he could still become a Supreme Court judge, but I really wish in a few days, there would be one less rapist in a position of power.

After all of this is over, what would leave a bad taste in my mouth is how allegations of sexual misconduct is still treated pretty much the way it was in the past, even after the #Metoo movement. It’s very reminiscent of Saudi Arabia, where the victim faces a tremendous hurdle for proving a crime has been committed after overcoming the sometimes impossible hurdle of admitting a crime has been committed, and even then, both the victim and the accused face consequences. There is still victim blaming… what was she wearing, why was she there, what time was it, what was she drinking, etc. Ignoring the fact that biggest factor in being raped is to be in the midst of a person who happens to be rapist. We still haven’t learned anything.

Ugh. As I said, the world is a dumpster fire, and it still must suck to be a woman sometimes.

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A Twist!

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I saw the movie ‘Wind River’ a few days ago.  The movie piqued my curiosity when I saw Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen starring as leads. I thought it quite unusual to have two actors who are featured in the Marvel Avengers franchise work together in a totally unrelated film. It seemed a tad distracting.

The movie was surprisingly decent. It was a murder mystery, although the mystery was fairly straightforward. And although the film was set in Wyoming, the wilderness and the issues regarding Native Americans echoed those of Canada’s First Nations’, particularly the way the government often has a lackadaisical approach to their problems. The film makers didn’t portray Native Americans as cartoons either. They portrayed them as real people with real concerns. The film’s focus in particular happens to be one that haunts my hometown as well, the victimization and disappearance of Aboriginal women and how authorities and society in general seems to not care about them. The RCMP doesn’t often put too much effort finding missing Aboriginal women despite the number of reports. A more comprehensive report on the violence that Aboriginal women suffer can be found at the RCMP’s own website.  It is silly how there would be days of news coverage for missing women of other ethnicities but most Aboriginal women don’t get much coverage should they ever disappear. So with all of this in mind, I was quite pleased by how the movie seemed to focus on this issue. Although a couple of instances with the male gaze was a tad inappropriate and unnecessary.

The whole thing didn’t play out like a typical theatrical release. It seemed to be more suited to something I would watch on television as opposed to the big screen. The mystery was not that complicated either and there was so big twist in the end, so the story was not that memorable. Or so I thought.

As the credits rolled, there it came in bold letters: Produced by the Weinstein Company.

That was a twist of M. Night Shyamalan proportions. A movie that champions the plight of women, particularly of Native Americans who are often marginalized, bringing them to light much like the #Metoo movement has brought to light abuses not just in Hollywood but in many places in the US and around the world… that movie just happens to be a property of the same monster that victimized countless of women and whose actions inspired the #Metoo movement in the first place.

Bravo ‘Wind River,’ bravo.

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#MeToo and an Idiot with Clean Hands

Odd Feeling

About a month ago, a prominent progressive politician in Korea was accused of raping his assistant in at least four incidents. This rocked the country’s left wing base since Ahn Hee-Jung is quite the popular figure and was even being groomed to be the next president after Moon Jae-In. The accuser claimed that she couldn’t refuse his advances and was in fear. Ahn however, claimed that the relationship between the two was consensual. Despite only being accused, the damage was already done. Ahn was removed from his position. It is very unlikely that he could resurrect his political career. Some people on the left however, despite being early proponents of the #MeToo movement are now starting to question the whole thing, thinking that some accusers weren’t really raped. Perhaps they were paid off by political opponents? Perhaps they were expecting a payoff in the end? Why did it take so long for many of the country’s accusers to come forward? The latest high profile celebrity brought down by the #MeToo movement in the country had accusers calling back to incidents ten years ago. People are wondering if these women are truly acting honestly, and whether they truly have clean hands.

The doctrine of clean hands state that those looking for equity must have equity as well. An accuser must have no unethical agenda and should act in bad faith. The defendant has the burden of proof to prove that the accuser is not acting with clean hands. The onus is not on the accuser to prove that they are acting with clean hands.

Absent of prior investigations, legal judgments, or evidence contrary to the fact, I tend to side with rape accusers automatically simply because it is difficult to prove  that it happened or not, and despite this difficulty, an accuser would be willing to stake his/her reputation in the name of justice. I think this is truer in a country like South Korea where the stigma of being a rape victim would have more lasting and deeper consequences than it would on the west. Being a spinster or a divorcee still has negative connotations in the country. I could only imagine the burden of being a known rape victim.

With the Ahn case, many suspect the accuser of acting on bad faith simply because it happened four times and she “allowed” it to happen. I believe this is a case of blaming the victim. It is simply arrogant to think claim that a person would act differently should they be in the same circumstances, not knowing all of the circumstances at all. We were not the victim. We were not in her head. Also, as Ahn’s supporters, the onus is on them to prove that the accuser was acting on faith, and not the accuser.  And I have to say there is hypocrisy in them saying that the accuser was not being sincere, when I suspect they wouldn’t be so willing to attack accusers if they were claiming foul play by members of the opposite party. This makes their distrust of the accuser politically motivated. They are not acting with clean hands.

In this scenario, absent of evidence, I believe there are two possible realities with two camps in each. One reality is where the accuser is telling the truth. To believe her would be a marriage of two goods: an accuser with clean hands and supporters of victims believing them with no motivation whatsoever other than justice. To not believe the accuser when she is telling the truth would either be blindness or just an act of political tribalism.

The other reality is where the accuser is lying. She has been paid by Ahn’s political opponents. And those who innocently and truly believe her, regardless of whether they are in the same side as Ahn or not, are fools. They are idiots easily manipulated by the #MeToo movement.  Those who do not believe her when she is lying look wise to be critical of what seems to be falsehoods. However, they also risk crucifying a victim for their “wisdom” and preventing others from coming out.

The people who do not believe Ahn’s accuser, absent of evidence, are hoping that they are wise enough to see through the accuser’s lies, and that they are indeed lies. I would rather believe the accuser and risk being a naïve idiot, a naïve idiot with clean hands.

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#MeToo on Atwood

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I’ve been watching Margaret Atwood’s ‘Alias Grace.’ It’s a bit of a slow burn, but after some time, it’s turning out to be a compelling horror story. Horror. It’s a horror being a woman in the not-so-distant past, even in a country like Canada. The story is about a white, Irish immigrant accused of murder and the events that led to her supposed crime. A white woman… granted, she’s an Irish immigrant back in the day when the Irish were suffering from discrimination, but imagine how much more horror there would be should the story be about a woman of color, say an Aboriginal woman in Canada.

This reminds me of the Louis CK joke; that time travel is only suited for white males. Women and minorities do not have the luxury of going back through time and not being in danger of being persecuted. History is too often a horror story for us. It can be very risky if not suicidal to revisit the past.

That’s not to say things have changed much in some cases. Minorities still feel the bitter sting of racism, and women are still constantly victimized by powerful (and even not powerful) men. This #MeToo hashtag has prompted public confessions and accusations regarding sexual harassment. Almost every other day, I see another prominent person being accused of being inappropriate. And that’s just the ones making the headlines. There are of course confessions from ordinary people about what happened to them as well. It would seem that the world is still occasionally a horror story for them as well.

The movement started with women speaking out, but it would appear that it’s not so much as women being victims, but about men taking advantage of their power because there have been confessions and accusations regarding men sexually abusing other men. It would seem that people being in power, who are most often men, is the problem. It’s the power. I guess that’s why it’s often said that rape is not really about sex, it’s about exerting power over another person.

This brings me to what happened to me back when I was fifteen. I was working part-time in an office, taking phone calls. After working in an A&W restaurant, I was glad to work in an office environment, even though I was just taking calls for most of the day. Things were going smoothly, and I was starting to really get used to the routine after school when my supervisor, a woman who was roughly twenty years older than me, leaned close and asked if she could sit on my lap while I worked. I just smiled at the suggestion and acted as if it was all a joke. But I never did return to that place. I wouldn’t want to know where that would lead. I was a child, I was fifteen.

I taught fifteen-year-olds before. I taught sixteen, seventeen, eighteen-year-olds before. I would never make such a comment or say anything that would be confused as such.

So, I guess that’s my #MeToo. Nothing really serious happened, so it didn’t bother me much. I remember I was more in disbelief at what actually happened. In any case, I count myself lucky that that’s the “worst” that happened to me at my most vulnerable in the workplace. I’m guessing most women would have a worse story to tell. In some ways, some people still live in Margaret Atwood’s dark imagination.

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You’re losing me, online news.

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Here’s to Tommy Douglas, a great Canadian hero. Because of him, Canadians’ taxes actually go to healthcare instead of just meaningless wars.

I no longer get my news anywhere but online, but seriously, these news sites that aggregate news stories need to get away from the click-bait and the ideology-driven model, otherwise they won’t last as long. I have a very rough relationship with The Huffington Post. The Daily Beast and Salon have already lost me. Now and then, Breitbart.com would have a story worth reading, but most of the site is ideologically driven garbage. There were fears in the west that Aljazeera would mostly be pro-Islam, pro-Palestine propaganda, but ironically, they’ve been pretty unbiased with the materials they publish online, definitely better than CNN.com.

Let’s look at Salon.com. Now I consider myself a feminist, but they’re “new feminist” agenda is getting ridiculous. An inordinate amount of stories are bent to become feminist related articles even on issues that aren’t or shouldn’t be seen from a feminist standpoint. Just recently, the singer Kesha accused her long-time producer of sexual harassment. She signed an exclusive contract with him and Sony and is thus obligated to work with him and produce six more albums. Her producer claims the allegations are just a ploy for her to get out of her contract. Now, I would give her the benefit of the doubt if she didn’t deny any rape allegations herself back in 2011. A simple Google search would provide that information, but instead, Salon.com ran article after article of Sony “forcing” the singer to work with her producer.

Kesha filed for an injunction against her producer and Sony, but the judge in the case, not seeing any evidence of sexual abuse, rejected her claim. Unfortunately, the judge inartfully worded the judgment, saying that it was “my instinct to do the commercially reasonable thing.” Instead of saying that, she should’ve said that contracts cannot be annulled based solely on allegations. There was no evidence of sexual misconduct, and the burden of proof for sexual harassment is already lower than most crimes. If the judge allowed the injunction, it would have set the precedent for women to just make allegations in order to get out of what were normally binding agreements.

This was not a feminist issue. It wasn’t people ignoring the pleas of victims of sexual crimes. It was the law acting as it should, basing decisions on evidence and not on ideology. For the media like Salon.com to treat this as an example of miscarriage of justice not only betrays their role as journalists, but it also does a disservice to real feminism. Not to mention, it also tars the name and damages the livelihood of those who are accused of sexual allegations without any solid evidence. This was not the first time Salon.com and other online news outlets did this either. The same thing happened with Mattress Girl.

We really should listen and be more sympathetic to victims of abuse, but our sympathies should not cloud evidence or the lack thereof. Look at the Steven Avery case. He’s not the most sympathetic character if you look at his police record and his past behavior prior to getting incarcerated for rape the first time. But it’s exactly the sympathy for the rape victim and the hatred for Steven Avery that cost him eighteen years of his life the first time around. Forget the evidence. Let’s incarcerate the town villain! Then there’s OJ Simpson, some would argue that the social and political climate at the time convinced some members of the population to be on his side, regardless of the evidence of his guilt. (Of course, truly believing that the accused committed a crime versus believing that the case against the accused was proven beyond any reasonable doubt are two different things.)

But then again, this was Salon.com, the same Web site that argued that Magneto, a Jewish comic book super villain, should be black in order to reflect current racial tensions. Because you know, slow news day, so everyone decides to play lawyer and indict a man for sexual crimes on the press.

 

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Unsolicited Nocturnal Comforts

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A short piece about comforting the cold:

We had a few drinks, things were good. I met her at a party in Osborne Village. She knew I was married, but she was totally cool with having drinks me somewhere else. Later, we ended up in her place for a few more drinks.

Things were getting hot and heavy, her thermostat finally started working and my bladder was getting heavy. It was this time when, unfortunately for her, she passes out.

This left me no choice but to do that thing which I believe most men would end up doing in such a situation… I grabbed a colorful Afghan from a closet and casually laid it over her. Manitoba mornings can get really cold.

Some might say I draped her. But I like to think there was some understanding between us after she took a couple of shots of Fernet-Branca.

Anyway, she’s now accusing me of being a drapist and dragging my good name in the mud.

An article from the Winnipeg Sun says that she woke up all stinky and sweaty, not knowing how she got to feeling so disgusting. She said she didn’t consent to being draped and was perfectly fine sleeping without an ornamental Afghan from Pier 1 Imports covering her.

That was just the beginning of my troubles.

No one bought her initial accusations, so she found some other women who claim I draped them as well. Some women were from as far back as college. I could barely remember their names. One woman in particular claimed she passed out after a party and I put a California king-size duvet over her. Then my buddies took turns putting blankets over her to keep her warm. It was -30 in Winnipeg.

She claims she was gang draped.

Another woman said I tried to put a small microfleece blanket over her while we were out camping in Portage la Prairie. I did, I’m not gonna argue that. But I thought she was cold and she was asking for it. Also, that blanket wasn’t so small. Some might say it’s even bigger than the average microfleece blanket.

A supervisor I used to work with in a nursing home claims she saw me putting bouclé blankets over people as they slept. They woke up all toasty, not knowing who draped them. Some don’t even realize they’ve been draped, to which I say is more plausible. They could’ve draped themselves!

The supervisor says she kept silent over the drapings because one time when she was in her office catching a quick nap on her desk, she claims I snuck in and covered her with a machine-washable Hudson’s Bay point blanket. She ended up sleeping for over an hour.

Of course I deny all of these draping allegations, except for that one incident back in 97.

There was an old gentleman sleeping on top of cardboard mat in an alley behind the Burton Cummings Theatre. I ended up covering him with 1200TC Siberian goose down comforter in the dead of the night without his consent.

Okay, I’ll give them that. I draped a homeless man once. But I swear he liked it. In any case, that doesn’t make me a serial drapist.

 

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What Passes for Conversation

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The problem with most issues these days is that people get married into their camps and more often than not would defend their worst members. It makes a lot of political/social debates disingenuous and quite unbearable when sides spend a lot of their energies defending their weakest links as if they were their strongest.

An example: a week ago, I’ve been called a “shitty, shitty person” because of my opinion regarding a rape activist who live-blogged her rape minutes after it happened. She’s an activist and thus an educator, so I don’t think this sets a good example for people. I believe victims should report their attack first and not have Instagram as their priority. I’m also particularly turned off by some facts regarding the case. I know a woman’s actions should never justify an attack, but the woman went to a foreign country and showered naked with a stranger in a hostel. After said attack, she posted the alleged attackers picture on the Internet. It appears she’s trying to convict her alleged attacker via social media. Not only that, her previous efforts at activism haven’t really garnered much media attention, and this appears to be a cry for attention. So much about it just sounds either foolish or disingenuous.

Now, many feminists and advocates would advise that people suspend all of their suspicions when it comes to rape victims despite Occam’s razor. I tend to agree, but I also believe in things such as innocent until proven guilty, and not showering with strangers in hostels. So the conversation in the Internet goes:

Me: Rape victims should report the crime first. Give social media a rest.
Commenter: Misogyny will even dictate to women how they should react after suffering rape. (Because apparently that’s exactly what I was doing, hating women and “dictating” to them how they should react.)
Me: New feminists define misogyny as anything counter to their message, no matter how ill-advised that message is.
Commenter: You’re a shitty, shitty person. (So much for a debate!)

This attitude is not unique to new feminists. You can also see this among atheists, religious people, and both sides of the political aisle. People will defend everything the likes of Dawkins and Harris say despite both men fueling Islamophobia. Same thing with the religious. How many times have people excused their actions “because of faith?” And while sometimes people won’t defend every fundamentalist on their camp, they would sometimes vilify everything on the other side, no matter how much it benefits them. Just look at all of the conservatives who rail against Obamacare.

I once joked that I’m now too old to follow professional wrestling, so now I follow politics for my drama. Unfortunately, I think a lot of people do so but with much more fervor and they’re not aware of how swept up they are in the whole thing. The drama consumes them (Going back to the wrestling analogy, they’re the fans who believe it’s all real). They get so entrenched on their own side of the argument that they fail to examine opposing point of views. Worse, they neglect to be critical of things happening in their camp. Just look at Fox News when they wonder why Muslim communities don’t condemn acts of fundamentalist Islamic terror, even when most Muslim communities actually do. The same Fox talkers turn a blind eye to crimes committed by Christians, like the uniquely American Christian anti-gay wave in Africa (“Kill the Gays” anyone?).

So yeah, good luck in finding an honest debate/opinion/report on any issue. Many of the major news outlets have their own slant, and the minute you voice an opinion, you’re bound to find some nut job just waiting to contradict anyone on the other side.

I guess what I’m advocating is not to be married to an ideology. I’m a Catholic, but I acknowledge the fact that Mother Teresa is a fraud and that the church has been covering up pedophilia. I like Dawkins, but sometimes he can either get petty or downright bigoted. I consider myself a feminist, but I’m not gonna jump into every feminist/rape bandwagon.

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Legal Porn (No, not that.)

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The New York Post prints a fair share of dumb articles, but three days ago they published a particularly dumb one which touches on something that I just recently watched, Netflix’s examination of the Steven Avery murder case, Making a Murderer. The headline goes: ‘Why Making a Murderer’ is Better than ‘Serial.’ The article, written by Sara Stewart, talks about both investigative pieces like they are entertainment, which to many they are, and she fails to recognize that it’s this same attitude towards both cases that lead to injustices. The cases began in the media, became legal porn, and many people are already too biased to hear any story that would contradict their biases.

Let me quickly counter Ms. Stewart’s five reasons and why they are at the very least moot and at the worst, serves to further harm the justice process.

1. We don’t know anything about the case (Steven Avery’s) already.
-The reason why people watch a documentary is to hopefully learn something new, not to confirm their biases. I’m hoping this was what both producers of Serial and Making a Murderer were trying to achieve. I believe most people know of Bowe Berghdal mostly through conservative talking points. This makes an examination of his case even more necessary.

2. Its (Making a Murderer’s) subject is more sympathetic.
-This is the type of laziness that leads to so much injustice. Ms. Stewart must not have heard of the Duke Lacrosse case. Rich, white students were accused of drugging and gang raping an African-American woman at a party. And from the very beginning, it was painted as an example of the excesses rich white men get away with and even as a hate crime. Nancy Grace filled hours of show condemning the accused. It was great legal porno. Unfortunately, the sympathetic victim turned out to be a liar.

Being swayed by sympathetic victims is one of the greatest traps people fall into. Ms. Stewart describes Steven Avery as being more sympathetic than Bowe Berghdal. But I would argue that it is exactly this sympathetic bias that got Steven Avery into bigger trouble. Isn’t the zeal for justice for Teresa Halbach a perfect example of the Missing White Woman Syndrome? The volunteers combing an area, the media coverage, the aggressive police action, etc.  It’s like whoever murdered Ms. Halbach took Criminology 101. She’s one of the most sympathetic victims of all.

3. Its (Making a Murderer’s) subject gives firsthand interviews.
-This is just silliness. Comparing the availability of both subjects in wildly different contexts is just dumb. I suppose Sarah Koenig could’ve just gone to Afghanistan to interview Bowe Berghdal while he escaped. Unfortunately we don’t live in such a fantastically ridiculous world.

4. There’s a wealth of archival footage available.
-Ms. Stewart seems to lament that there’s not enough footage of Bowe Berghdal as opposed to the court footage, local news, and police reports that’s available for Steve Avery’s case. I would argue that Ms. Koenig actually took some restraint in not using the wealth of material slamming Bowe Berghdal and essentially convicting him prior to being tried and his reasons for leaving examined.  But doing so would be extremely lazy and basically going through what everyone has already been exposed to. What Ms. Koenig is doing with the “unpopular” Bowe Berghdal might not be as good as “entertainment,” but entertainment is just one part of what Serial is trying to do. It is also trying to inform its audience.

5. It’s (Making a Murderer’s) literally easier to hear.
-Again with apples and oranges. One is a ten-part documentary which most people can and will binge-watch, while the other is an ongoing radio series. It’s the visual media versus the theater of the mind.

I don’t mean to write an examination of a dumb New York Post article, but my frustration from seeing the story is basically the same thing that frustrates me with many legal stories, and it’s something that I admittedly am quite guilty of as well: treating these cases like legal porn. It’s all drama. The characters are just mere characters, not real life people. People opine on whether Casey Anthony, Jodi Arias, or OJ Simpson are guilty or not, but what often gets lost are the web of people they are connected with. Steven Avery is portrayed as some sort of villain in 1985. No one would have guessed that it would later start a domino effect which lands his nephew in prison.  Bowe Berghdal is talked about simply as a deserter… but his issues regarding the military and how it treats its own troops is forgotten entirely. Lots of people become self-satisfied legal experts just watching legal drama on the sidelines, not realizing that it sometimes feeds into the injustice that is fueled by the media (Hello again, Nancy Grace).

Ms. Stewart writes as if she sees both Serial and Making a Murderer as entertainment pieces, which to most of the public they are, like numbers on a Nielsen ratings scale.  They really shouldn’t be, and we should stop talking about them as if they were. These people’s lives are not being ruined by the justice system simply for our entertainment. I would like to think there is more to them than that.

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Slacktivism as News

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I grew a mustache for Movember once. I didn’t donate money towards cancer research nor did I get my prostate examined. I grew a mustache. That was my bit for help the cause against cancer. By growing a mustache, I was informing people about the need for cancer research and preventative measures… except I didn’t really personally donated money nor make any precautions. Deservedly, I got criticized for it, but isn’t it any different than many of the causes we see on the media these days?

The problem with Internet media is that it’s quite easy to produce, easy to consume, and that many news outlets rely on sensationalistic click-baiting, or what I think is more appropriate, guilt-baiting.

Now, I don’t mind a good cause. But recently, there’s been a lot of energy put on causes that in my opinion don’t really amount to anything in the most practical sense. An issue is manufactured out of a bigger and more real problem and slacktivism is encouraged. They come in all degrees of seriousness, but sometimes they’re so insignificant that it’s no longer amusing. As an example, let’s look at Eli Keel’s article on Salon, It’s time for Marvel to make Magneto black. Yes, this was on a news site.

In the article, he writes that what makes the comic book villain Magneto great is that he is based in a real-world historic tragedy. And now that Marvel is rebooting all of their characters, it’s time to make the character black in order to reference the Civil Rights Movement (ignoring the fact that the whole humans vs. mutants theme in the X-Men books is an allegory to the Civil Rights Movement). Since the election of their first black president, the US has been undergoing quite the surge in racial tensions, especially recently with the way police officers have been policing black communities. But is this really a battle one has to fight in the comic books? Should the tragedy of the Holocaust be replaced by the Civil Rights fight? I don’t think so. I don’t think great black leaders would waste time campaigning to change the motivations of comic book super villains (make Magneto a civil rights bad guy?!). There has got to be a better way to address civil rights issues, and it’s not in changing comic book characters. Sure, comic books have championed many social issues before, and in many ways they have influenced young minds and made them better people, but if you’re going to fight for civil rights, don’t campaign a company to change their characters. It is probably the least you can do for the cause. In fact, you might even alienate people who A)love the character and would not want it changed and B) are annoyed that you are fighting the civil rights fight by barking at comic book creators instead of doing something yourself. Instead of asking people to create a solution, how about making a solution?

And this is what annoys me about many of the Internet causes. It gives people the illusion of actually doing something positive without actually doing something to help the cause. For one, I see too many articles talking about rape culture, perpetuating the belief that we are living in an environment where rape is encouraged/celebrated. Really? But aren’t rapists jailed? When and where do we exactly celebrate the brutalization of women? Not in the United States. But from the way the articles are written, you would be forgiven to think that a third of all women are victims, and that society is high-fiving itself for making it so. And what do the articles ask in return for such dire message? Share the article. Click like. Spread the message and you’ve done your part.

If rape is such a trend in society, then shouldn’t we be more proactive about it? Why are we sharing links? Why aren’t we writing to our congressmen or campaigning at their doorsteps? Why aren’t we locking up all men? Why are we making Youtube videos debating whether video games are training young men to become rapists? Why are we marching half-naked? Whose minds are we actually changing? Either we don’t understand the meaning of “culture” in “rape culture” or our modern day approach to sweeping social problems is the most lackadaisical.

I guess the biggest example of the flash of the pan, guilt clicking, share this or you’re an asshole story is KONY 2012. The campaign to get rid of Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, was so viral that I kept seeing it shared on Facebook for weeks. Now while Jason Russell, the campaign’s creator suffered a bit of a meltdown, but the cause itself was worthwhile, after all, Joseph Kony is a horrible guerilla leader. But after all the Facebook shares, television media coverage and street campaigns, Joseph Kony still walks the planet. It made us all feel good liking the stories and sharing it to our friends. It made us all feel worldly, well-rounded, and conscientious. But it didn’t really do a damned thing. Jason Russell was criticized for being a bit narcissistic, appointing himself a savior of Ugandan children. Truly, the whole thing was an exercise in narcissism. We all felt good for “doing” something good, and now we’ve forgotten about those poor children. And I don’t want to be a pessimist, but I believe that even if Magneto became black and everyone on the Internet agreed that there is indeed rape culture aimed against women, ten years from now, we’ll still be having issues regarding race and sexual violence.

Of course, there are many examples of stories that guilt the public, become viral, and actually do something significant. The water bucket challenge was a huge success which allowed the MDA to raise a significant amount of money without that horrible Jerry Lewis. Good for MDA! But with every video of people actually donating money after getting water dumped on their heads, there are others which didn’t really amount to anything, except maybe a few views, a couple of likes, and some comments.

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Talking About Rape Badly

brother

Congratulations on graduating, Emma Sulkowicz! Now, can we stop tormenting someone who was exonerated?

Now, there is one thing for standing against misogyny, but there is also harassment. There is also, bullying. And while Emma’s story is one of a girl standing up against her rapist and the institution that won’t allow for justice, there is also the story of Paul Nungesser, the accused rapist, someone who has been bullied and labeled a “rapist” despite there being zero proof other than accusations. She has a very compelling story of rape. But an interesting story is just that, an interesting story.

Then there are the text messages. Emma and Paul had a consensual, casual, sexual relationship prior to the “rape” incident. This amiable relationship continued for a couple of months after the incident. There are Facebook messages that show Emma initiating contact with Paul several times in a friendly manner. These are messages that she herself has corroborated. She offered to provide deeper context to the messages, but has since retracted that offer. As far as I can tell from the media, there’s also no evidence or eyewitness testimony of her changing attitudes after the incident as well.

Being friendly to your attacker does not prove he’s innocent. It doesn’t prove he’s guilty either. In fact, it does not prove anything. All it does is place doubt to claims of rape. And aside from the messages, is there any other evidence that would prove the claim? Mathematically alone it doesn’t look good for Emma. There is one evidence that suggests Paul’s innocence, zero for guilt.

The university didn’t find her claims credible. The NYPD didn’t think there was enough evidence to press charges. That should have been it. While not ideal, that’s roughly how the way justice in the country should work. Someone makes an accusation, authorities determine whether there’s enough evidence for a case, if there’s none, the accused is then exonerated.  The accuser should not be allowed to harass the exonerated party.

Worse, the media should not crucify the exonerated by publicizing the story and insinuating that he got away with sexual assault. The New York Times, Salon, the Huffington Post, Jezebel, the Nation… so many news outlets dug into the story for all of its scandalous bits. They often fail to mention that the accused was exonerated. Perhaps Paul was indeed guilty, and perhaps the university should have done a much better job at investigating the case, but a public flogging is not justice.  We don’t hang people without a trial nor use scarlet letters (yes, there is irony here, but Emma chose to carry her scarlet letter, Paul was given his).

What’s ironic is some people supporting Emma is quick to judge the veracity of her story due to the media they consume and will be equally dismissive of the outlets that would counter her claims. “Who could believe Nungesser when he runs to the Daily Beast?” Of course, this is also a current symptom of people only following news outlets that reinforce their ideology, but saying something like, “who would believe him, his story is from breitbart.com?” is just as dismissive and as close-minded as something a “patriarchal misogynist” would say when countering rape stories. How about examining the counter-arguments regardless of the messenger? (to an extent)

Shame on the university art professor as well for allowing Emma to stage her harassment under the guise of performance art! There is neither art here, nor justice. What little art there was is overshadowed by the possibility of inflicting lifelong torture to someone who was exonerated. Hurting reputations and destroying lives is not art. And as for justice, Emma is not exactly acting with clean hands. I don’t want to underestimate the impact of the “rape victim” label, but for Emma, what other names come with that label aside from what I assume are glowing marks on her art project? Artist? Activist? Feminist hero? I’m not saying that she is not truly a victim, nor am I saying that she made up the whole thing for an art project, but would she be in the zeitgeist if she never lugged around that mattress? This wouldn’t be the first time an artist, in lieu of a lack of talent, would front a cause for publicity.

If Paul was a cynic, instead of hiding, he should’ve countered with a different performance piece, one that highlights the plight of the innocent accused. Just look at the Innocence Project. Doesn’t its mere existence suggest that we as a society have a tendency to rush to judgment regardless the costs?

The friendly Facebook messages and the long period before reporting the incident are countered by Emma’s supporters with a defense that I wholeheartedly agree with, there are no perfect victims. Yes, there are none. While I was never a victim rape (sexual assault and harassment, yes), I have many friends who were, and none of them went to the police. Some stayed in denial, some dealt with it years later, while some don’t even realize they were raped. It takes a lot of courage to immediately report an incident. But the victim’s courage should not overshadow justice for the accused. Accusers should not be immediately given the benefit of the doubt simply because they overcame something tremendous. The justice system still gives benefit of the doubt to the accused, otherwise’ we would be living in Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible.’ The goal is to be somewhere in the middle of the two parties, where both the accuser and the accused have equal opportunities.

Feminism is a good thing. We as a society should be doing more to fight for the rights of women. I also believe that incidents of sexual assault are underreported. There should be more support for victims regardless of gender. What troubles me is this new wave of feminism and the surge of “social justice warriors” who overreact to certain social issues or approach them in a manner that is counter to the general good. Feminism is neither a twisted form of egalitarianism (equality of outcome as opposed to equality of opportunity) nor misandry, but you would be confused if you looked at the Internet. The same way newly-converted and superficial feminists are muddying the meaning of the word, so does Emma Sulkowicz harms the feminist movement. Her narrative does not strengthen and support female victims of rape; it introduces more doubts to their claims.

And while people often have no idea of how to talk about rape, lugging a mattress around and crying victim is not the way to go about it either.

Update:

Apparently, she now released a videotape that if you watch with intent counter to hers makes you equivalent to participating in her “rape.”

If she hasn’t lost you before, she should lose you by now.

First off, by releasing something on the Internet, by the very nature of the Internet and of the act, you are giving the public consent to do whatever they want with that information. This skewers the very definition of consent. When celebrities’ phones were hacked and their images were leaked online, viewing the stolen images contributed to their victimhood. They didn’t have any control over very personal images. But when someone “leaks” a sextape, ala Farrah Abraham, then there’s no victimhood. The release of the sextape serves to benefit the ones on video. There is consent, there is benefit. Emma Sulkowicz stands to benefit from the release of her sextape. It’ll keep her in the limelight (thanks to Salon and Huffington Post), feminists will continue parading her as a hero, and she will gain some art cred for whatever its worth.

What bothers me most is that as an artist, you do not control the dialogue. You do not dictate to the viewer that they are wrong for seeing your art one way instead of another. It’s the first lesson: art is subjective. Alot of great works from classical masters are pornographic in nature, but we see them as higher art. And now, to tell viewers that they are viewing a piece wrongly, and worse, that they are essentially rapists by proxy is not art. It’s activism at its worst. It’s what I notice some feminists these days have succumbed to instead of meaningful dialogue. If you don’t agree to their sentiments 100%, which can range from reasonable feminist issues that I myself agree with to frantic misandry, then you are contributing to their oppression.

I refuse to look at the video, but luckily, there have been other news sites that have looked into it and made images or gifs of it. I refuse to contribute more clicks. But let me address some of the questions on her preface:

Searching:

Are you searching for proof? Proof of what? I am not searching for anything. In fact, when I first heard about this story, I wanted desperately to believe Emma and looked for evidence to support her claims. I found none but accusations.
Are you searching for ways to either hurt or help me? Not really. But is anyone helping the accused? No one is perpetuating the stigma of a “rape victim” to Emma more than Emma herself. And in perpetuating that label, she also perpetuates the label of “rapist” to the accused who was exonerated.
What are you looking for? I’m looking for an end to this drama. Sadly, I don’t think it’s gonna happen anytime soon.

Desiring:

Do you desire pleasure? Not from this. I honestly get my sexual kicks from something else.
Do you desire revulsion? Is this to counteract your unconscious enjoyment? See above.
What do you want from this experience? I really don’t want to experience this. But I can tell you want people to either feel guilty for clickbaiting or simply being curious. You put content out there that is designed to titilate and then accuse people of rape by being titilated. This does not help real victims. This does not help the anti-slutshaming fight.

Me:

How well do you think you know me? Have we ever met? This is a dumb counterargument to anything. Think about it. Don’t you think this can be applied to any situation?

Do you think I’m the perfect victim or the world’s worst victim? A victim has not been established yet. If anything, Paul Nungesser appears to be a victim in this case.

Do you refuse to see me as either a human being or a victim? If so, why? Is it to deny me agency and thus further victimize me? If so, what do you think of the fact that you owe your ability to do so to me, since I’m the one who took a risk and made myself vulnerable in the first place? No one has been denied agencies. No one. The school and the police looked at the case. Emma Sulkowicz had the agency to complain anytime after the incident. She had the agency to drag Paul Nungesser’s name in the mud. No one is stopping her from doing anything, including releasing a sextape.

Do you hate me? If so, how does it feel to hate me? I don’t hate Emma Sulkowicz. I’m annoyed. I’m annoyed at the art professors and the art critics that see any of this as art. I’m annoyed at people cynically using “art” as a shield for anything other than art, in this case, a cry for attention and a tool to persecute Paul Nungesser. I’m annoyed at Internet news Websites continuing to use this story as clickbait. I’m annoyed at lazy feminists that don’t examine this issue, believe Emma Sulkowicz without batting an see, and not see how this case is truly counter to their cause. I’m annoyed at people who forget that a person is innocent until proven guilty.

Emma Sulkowicz says that she’s infuriated with the name “Mattress Girl” and wants to go beyond that point. Releasing a sex video referencing rape is not the way to go about it. This is almost trolling for attention. And really, if “Mattress Girl” is infuriating, how infuriating is it compared to the label “rapist?”

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