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Scheherazade in Blue Jeans
freelance alchemist
Today in Rape Culture 
15th-Dec-2011 12:52 pm
B5: Battle of the Line
Buckle up, y'all, this'll be a big long post. In the interest of not dragging down your day, the bad news first.

Judge Dismisses ‘Epidemic’ of Rape in Military Case
Your pull quotes:
* "Women in the military are now more likely to be raped by fellow soldiers than they are to be killed in combat; in 2010, there were 3,158 military sexual assaults reported, according to the Department of Defense’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office—a number that, by the Pentagon’s own admission, represents just 13.5 percent of the estimated 19,000 assaults that actually occurred last year."
* "But survivors say that the assaults themselves are just the tip of the iceberg: more damaging is the way they’re handled. Victims who report their assaults report being further victimized by the military’s handling of their complaints. Ninety percent of them are eventually involuntarily discharged. In naming Gates and Rumsfeld, the suit holds the top brass responsible for a culture of retaliation that leads to victims being treated as perpetrators."
* "Attorneys for the Department of Defense, led by Marcus Meeks, responded with a motion to dismiss, arguing that per a 1950 Supreme Court ruling, the military cannot be sued by current or former soldiers for injuries incurred in the armed forces, including sexual assaults. “The alleged harms are incident to plaintiffs’ military service,” the defense attorneys argued."

So that is fucking awful.

Right then. On to a story that is also awful, but with a better ending.

Frat Survey Asks: ‘If You Could Rape Someone, Who Would it Be?’
Yep. Does what it says on the tin.

But I promised you a happy ending on this one, and it's this: "The Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity at the University of Vermont (slogan: "Building Balanced Men") is suspended and under investigation by campus police."

AW YEAH. Because, y'know, if you think it's okay to survey people asking who they want to rape? You might be a rapist. Apparently UVM's campus police realize that and are looking into it. Ain't nothin' that sends a message of "this is not okay" like a police investigation.

And here is the big big big news!

The CDC's The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS)
This is the one that is depressing everyone, but guys, as someone who works in social change in this field, I am bouncing off the damn walls, you don't even know. This is SO MUCH DATA, and it's from a source that everyone will recognize and respect - generally the sources we cite are difficult to access and not written for the layman, but boom, right there, you can download the report.

In fact, here is your homework for the day - please download and read the executive summary. Just four pages of distilled data. Do it, do it.

One thing I'm finding fascinating is how different blogs are picking up different parts of the study to report on.

* "Rape at a young age was associated with another, later rape; about 35 percent of women who had been raped as minors were also raped as adults, the survey found."

* "Nearly 1 in 5 women (18.3%) and 1 in 71 men (1.4%) in the United States have been raped at some time in their lives, including completed forced penetration, attempted forced penetration, or alcohol/drug facilitated completed penetration. ... Approximately 1 in 21 men (4.8%) reported that they were made to penetrate someone else during their lifetime; most men who were made to penetrate someone else reported that the perpetrator was either an intimate partner (44.8%) or an acquaintance (44.7%). "

* "As has been found in other studies, Native American women are more at risk than other racial group for sexual assault; in this study, those identifying multiracial had the highest rates of all."

* "Surviving sexual violence was also found to correlate with anxiety disorders and chronic health issues: "Both men and women who had been assaulted were more likely to report frequent headaches, chronic pain, difficulty sleeping, limitations on activity, and poor physical and mental health.""

This is a study that covers male survivors, race, repeated victimization, health impact - all of these things that we have all known about but have not had sufficient accessible data on. THIS IS SUFFICIENT ACCESSIBLE DATA. Just the unimpeachable data on 1 in 21 men being forced to penetrate someone is a massive shift, because that's one of the types of rape that rape apologists like to say doesn't exist. 1 in 21. We have that solid data now. Huge.

I guess the people who are shocked and depressed didn't know how bad things really were. I knew, so I am thrilled, because this study is ammo.

Hot on the heels of that...

Men Can Stop Rape is shifting their focus to bystander intervention, which is proven to be the best method of primary prevention. I love their new posters! They give people a very simple toolkit for bystander intervention. Want a concise toolkit? Here you go...


That is today in rape culture. Go forth and fight, y'all.
15th-Dec-2011 06:09 pm (UTC)
I like that checklist. (And have even done 1,2, and 3.)

The CDC thing is huge and I dislike that it is going to be met with shock and awe and hand-wringing, but maybe we can get past that and work on some determined "and therefore this needs to change".

The UVM thing is interesting, because it seems that frat has something of a history. Glad there was some pushback this time. (Although they are crying "First Amendment", of course, since they mostly don't know what that means.)

As for the Judge dismissing? I really want to see the decision. It sounds like a lower court judge, which means precedent may be binding. The appeals judge is the issue now.

15th-Dec-2011 06:11 pm (UTC)
I like that checklist. (And have even done 1,2, and 3.)

This is why you're hot. (Note: it's not the only reason.)

maybe we can get past that and work on some determined "and therefore this needs to change".

That is absolutely my intent! And I'll be meeting every shock and handwringing with "and here's what you can do to help fix it."

Agreed re: the decision, too.
15th-Dec-2011 06:16 pm (UTC)
This is why you're hot. (Note: it's not the only reason.)

According to Monday's story slam, there's also that leather coat of mine. :)

That is absolutely my intent! And I'll be meeting every shock and handwringing with "and here's what you can do to help fix it."

This shocks me entirely none.

As for the decision, it is more to see what the judge's reasoning was. I've definitely seen decisions where the judge makes it clear they disagree with the law as written, but the precedent is clear, or at least makes it complicated enough that the case can't be decided at this level, and ask appeals to figure it out/clarify the conflicting situation. Or, you know, he could just be an asshole who thinks this is just fine. I'd be curious to see.
15th-Dec-2011 06:32 pm (UTC)
Well, it's totally acceptable to cry 'first amendment' if they were being charged with a crime because of the survey. It's also totally acceptable for the police to think you need to be *investigated* because of something you freely said. If I were to go out and ask people, "If you were going to kill Obama, how would you go about doing it?" I would *expect* to get investigated! (Mind, if Big Brother is listening, I don't like the guy but I don't advocate killing ANYBODY and am just using this as an EXAMPLE! O:)

And, of course, my professional brain pipes up in the back of my head that there are sometimes scientifically justifiable reasons for phrasing survey questions suggestively. Depends on what it is you're studying. However, I sincerely doubt that this survey referred to was an actual research study, and if it were there would be paperwork documentation showing the theoretical explanations for that phrasing. :P I know the wording of that question would not have gotten past *my* desk without the researcher explaining that phrasing!
15th-Dec-2011 06:48 pm (UTC)
They are crying First Amendment because the school revoked their charter. So... no. (Although I thought the person who argued it is a State School, and therefore The Government, means it IS a First Amendment thing, was rather clever.)

As for the survey... let us just say your sincere doubts are correct.
15th-Dec-2011 06:28 pm (UTC)
*Tries to find zen and resist unpleasant thoughts about the judge.*

Yay for UVM and local cops! (Did I hear that the national frat suspended their chapter, as well?)

And I totes <3 unimpeachable ammo. Exactly right. (Not that the worst apologists will buy it, but powerful tool to convince the others.)

P.S. Whom do I kiss for that poster? I mean, seriously. Tongue and everything.
16th-Dec-2011 01:21 am (UTC)
Did I hear that the national frat suspended their chapter, as well?

You did! They're being investigated by the national frat, the cops, and the university - pretty much the best outcome.
15th-Dec-2011 06:33 pm (UTC)
This is a great postcard. I am going to repost this widely. The other stuff... Well, the data from the CDC is half the fucking battle or some portion thereof, and I am glad that we have it. Also glad that those fools are under investigation, but considering my experience with investigations of actual rapes and assaults at my old alma mater (UConn, which features as part of it's landscape a place called the "Rape Trail"), I am not holding my breath. And the dismissal is heart breaking. Sometimes the military can surprise me with its level-headedness. This is not one of those times.
15th-Dec-2011 06:38 pm (UTC)
I love this, from the attorney on the military case: “We will continue battling the military on this issue until reform occurs,” she said last month. “Or until we die, whichever comes first.”
15th-Dec-2011 06:39 pm (UTC)
Rock. On.
15th-Dec-2011 08:26 pm (UTC)
Poster is awesome. Need to reuse that at cons.

Study less awesome, but evidence fucking rocks.
15th-Dec-2011 09:53 pm (UTC)
So did you already post and comment about this last month and I missed it?

(Only tangentially related.)
(Deleted comment)
15th-Dec-2011 11:25 pm (UTC)
At my job, I'm the gatherer for data on things like the CDC study. Hi. I'm enthused too.
15th-Dec-2011 11:36 pm (UTC) - A silver lining
Thanks for your post. I study sexual assault prevention; so, I'm always happy to see more people out there discussing such things. Just wanted to give a tiny silver lining to the military case. I agree fully about the great need better services/response for survivors. I also know a woman that was sexually assaulted while in the military and the perps barely suffered for it. So, I've definitely seen how horrendous the system is. That said, the military has actually stepped up their anti-sexual assault activities hugely in the past decade in a way no military has ever attempted. The stats on sexual assault come out of efforts to increase reporting, become transparent, and deal with the problem. For instance, one of the many systems that has been changed is that reporting no longer has to go through the superior officer (which may in some cases have perpetrated or protected those that did). Another example of transparency was that following efforts to increase reporting... when the stats came out showing extremely high levels, the military could have just said "well, we increased reporting" and backed off. Rather than back off, they stated that the horrifyingly high stats were still large underestimates and that they needed better systems of reporting that protected survivors. That the military is trying to tackle sexual assault, become more transparent, and allow soldiers to go around superior officers in reporting are large changes to how the military has traditionally done business. While the military has a very long way to go, it is definitely getting better.
16th-Dec-2011 01:18 am (UTC)
I see UVM frats are as appalling now as they were when I was there (and I'm suddenly very glad I never went to a Sig Ep party). The school has a good record of not tolerating fraternity shenanigans, though - if only because the students get vocal and stay vocal. And it's great that the fraternity's national body is also Not Amused.
16th-Dec-2011 02:17 am (UTC)
The CDC thing is good on some fronts and TOTALLY FUCKED UP on others (ie the definitions of rape - one criticism of it here. It's also cissexist as fuck.
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