Sexual Assault & Rape

Recent posts

In Order To Prevent Rape, You Must Talk About Sex

In light of the recent Steubenville rape trial, there has been a flurry of internet activity discussing rape culture, consent, and the role of social media. This is great, since the silence and shame surrounded sexual assault must be combated with open communication and social analysis. However, I’d like to make a precise point here: in order to prevent rape and sexual assault, we – ALL of us – must talk about sex. This Polyamorous Misanthrope post on teaching your sons about consent is a wonderful step in the right direction: it involves a clear, honest, direction conversation that defines consent and goes through a number of sample situations where consent might or might not be possible. The topic of that conversation is implicitly sex… Continue Reading →

Documenting Domestic Violence

What would you do if you were a journalist just there to take pictures of a family, and a scene of domestic violence erupted right in front of you? Sara Naomi Lewkowicz chose to continue taking pictures and thus document what was happening, in part because she feared that intervening would escalate the violence. Fair warning: the pictures linked to in the article are violent and potentially triggering. But with the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) so recently up for renewal, it’s important to remind people that domestic violence is incredibly pervasive, and the people facing it should have access to resources to help them. Continue Reading →

Daily Sexual Violence, In India And America

The rape and murder of Jyothi Singh Pandey in New Delhi brought the world’s attention to the problem of sexual violence in India, with many calling for police reforms as well as culture-wide changes. And it is a culture-wide problem: as this article in The Atlantic demonstrates, there are a host of subtle cultural oppressions, which add up to “ongoing attacks on women, be they decisions to feed them last, marry them as teenagers, skimp on their medical care, or gang rape them on a bus.” But then read this piece, which focuses on the sexual violence American women face. With our rape rates -  there is a reported rape every 6.2 minutes, and one in five women will be raped in her lifetime – we also have an epidemic of ongoing attacks on women. Sexual violence is not an isolated phenomenon, and it’s not something our modernized culture has stamped out: it is systemic oppression. Continue Reading →

Would Limiting Men’s Freedom End Sexual Assault?

The brilliant post What If We Responded to Sexual Assault by Limiting Men’s Freedom Like We Limit Women’s? turns sexism on its head by suggesting that since men who assault cannot control themselves, we should put restrictions on all men, such as making them wear blindfolds in places where they might encounter women in skimpy clothing. The author’s not serious, of course, but the satirical technique of role-reversal can reveal the underlying assumptions of well-meaning advice. Does this make you uncomfortable? Good, it should. Continue Reading →

Sexual Assault And Burning Man Culture

Those of you who know what Burning man is (here’s a link for those who don’t) probably have positive mental images of the festival – after all, it’s an intentional community based on art, freedom of expression, and radical inclusion and participation. However, sexual assault does happen at burns, and so it’s good to be aware that the possibility exists. I highly recommend this essay on rape at Burning Man by Clarisse Thorn. She discusses an assault, the community response, and some of the legal and cultural issue affecting consent and vulnerability. Not all of us will go to Burning Man, but we all should have conversations about how to create safe environments and spot abusers. Continue Reading →

The Politics Of Regulating Guns And Regulating Sexuality

Buckle up, folks, I’m going to draw a number of parallels and ask you to put on your metaphorical thinking-caps while reading this post. Maybe you don’t automatically think “vaginas!” when you’re tuning into the gun debate in America, but I do, and I think you should consider doing the same. Here’s why. Continue Reading →

Challenging Rape Culture In India (Trigger Warning)

A 23-year old medical student was gang-raped on a public bus in Delhi, India, leading to nation-wide protests. Protesters point out the pervasive rape culture in India, such that rape is horrifyingly common and the legal consequences are few. Many protesters are hopeful about both cultural and legal reforms, using this latest incident as a means of opening a public dialogue about a troubling problem. I’m hopeful on their behalf, too. Continue Reading →

Colleges Should Support Male Sexual Violence Survivors

This Chronicle report advises universities to include men in their sexual violence support and prevention services, reasoning that sexual violence against men is often underreported, and that universities are obligated to provide safe environments for all their students. Due to the prevalence of worldwide sexual violence against men, and situations showing that discussing gender roles with boys helps them think outside ingrained sexist behaviors (such as those that sustain rape culture), it seems like directing sexual assault prevention messages at college men as well as women is the next logical step in campus safety programs. Continue Reading →

The Dark Side Of Belly Dance

As longtime MSP readers know, I’m a belly dancer in addition to a scholar and blogger. I’ve written posts about belly dancing and sexiness, the stigmas associated with belly dance, and the body acceptance that comes from belly dancing. I know, from doing academic research on the American belly dance community, that my perspectives are not wholly unique; many Western women find solace in the belly dance community, rediscover a sense of embodied pleasure, and feel greater self-esteem and confidence due to the dance. However, it’s not all sunshine and roses in the belly dance community. This very important (but potentially triggering) blog post by Charlotte Desorgher relates her experience visiting Cairo as a young belly dancer. Continue Reading →

On Rape And Pregnancy

I did not watch, read, or listen to the news for over a week, as I was busy getting married on the beach, going on a mini-honeymoon in Santa Barbara, and then performing dance for 4 days straight at one of the largest gaming conventions in the country. Beyond the chores of unpacking and laundry and scraping glitter off everything, all I wanted to do was sleep and recover. And then I came home to this. “This” being Representative Todd Akin’s comments about how in regard to the possibility of pregnancy after rape, in his understanding, ”if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Far more bloggers than I can count have protested the idiocy behind these remarks, and pointed out the irony that a member of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology would be so ill informed. Continue Reading →