Sexual Assault & Rape

Recent posts

Violent Sex, PTSD, And Ethics

A journalist who worked in Haiti, and consequently had to deal with the symptoms of PTSD, has found that violent sex is helping her cope with the trauma. While her account of the healing process is an interesting read, it’s also important to keep in mind, as Clarisse Thorn reminds us, that the journalist is still responsible for ethically representing the people she interacted with there (in this case, the journalist revealed details about a sexual assault survivor’s life that could further put her in danger, against the survivor’s express wishes). This ethical quandry is unfortunate, because sex as a tool for healing seems really fascinating. Follow us on Twitter @mysexprofessor. Follow Jeana, the author of this post, @foxyfolklorist. Continue Reading →

Rape Culture, Pro-Life, And Anti-Women Rhetorics

There is a connection between various cultural messages about sex that reach us through the media, politics, and everyday life. I’ve seen it helpfully articulated on feminist blogs and in conversations with feminists and other allies, but it wasn’t until I was reading the footnotes of Sex at Dawn (because I am a nerd like that) that it all fell into place for me. First, I’d read Echo Zen’s Slutwalk address, which was awesome and thought-provoking. Speaking from the perspective of a reproductive health advocate, he defines rape culture as a culture that punishes women for trying to be in control of their sexuality, especially when that means choosing to be sexually active. Rape culture normalizes sexual violence and employs victim-blaming and slut-shaming strategies to cow women into complying… Continue Reading →

Utah Mom Tries To Sell Daughter’s Virginity For $10,000

On May 24th, ABC News reported that a Utah mother attempted to sell her teenage daughter’s virginity- for $10,000. A 32 year old mom from Salt Lake City reportedly offered to sell her 13-year-old daughter’s virginity to a man she met online. She also took the man and her daughter to a local Victoria’s Secret store, where she had her daughter model various lingerie sets for the man. The mother also sold partially nude photographs of her daughter to another man she had met online. At press time, the mother was being held at a Salt Lake City jail and is facing two counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child. Continue Reading →

The Blame Game

Why do we blame victims? Slut Walk was started in part to try to change how culture views blaming victims (after a police officer in Toronto mentioned that women could avoid being “victims” of sexual assault if they wouldn’t dress like “sluts”). In my experience in working with survivors of sexual assault, as well as people in general, people seem to be more comfortable with blaming the survivors than anyone else. Tori Amos even sings about what she was wearing when assaulted, and wonders if that has any influence over blame (and for the record, a person could have on the sexiest, slinkiest outfit – or heck, even be naked! – and have made the first move, and as long as they say no, it’s no longer consensual). Continue Reading →

Egypt General Admits to “Virginity Checks” of Protesters

According to CNN.com, a senior Egyptian general has admitted to performing “virginity checks” on female protesters this past Spring so that they couldn’t claim to have been raped. The article states:

“The general said the virginity checks were done so that the women wouldn’t later claim they had been raped by Egyptian authorities. “We didn’t want them to say we had sexually assaulted or raped them, so we wanted to prove that they weren’t virgins in the first place,” the general said. “None of them were (virgins).” Of course, there is no way to really tell if a woman is a virgin by examining her vagina. Continue Reading →

Suing To Screen Suitors?

I first read about a recent lawsuit from a link my friend Sarah shared about a woman suing one of the main dating websites, Match.com, but then continued to read another article from the LA Times about it. I’m still not sure exactly how I feel about the incident, which we’ll get to in a second. April does happen to be Sexual Assault Awareness month (as well as STI month). As someone who has been volunteering for a sexual assault non-profit for five years, I tend to side with the survivor. Here’s what allegedly happened:  Continue Reading →

Movie Review: Sucker Punch

Sucker Punch is a film you will either love or hate. It has polarized viewers and started lengthy debates about the ways in which sex and sexiness are portrayed and, perhaps, manipulated. As far as I can tell, there are valid reasons to both laud and loathe the film, depending on one’s sexual politics. Below the cut, I will discuss how the film handles some very important sexual issues—but be warned, spoilers lie ahead! Continue Reading →

(Mis)Communication And Misreading Refusals

A post titled Mythcommunication over at the sex-positive blog Yes Means Yes raises some fascinating issues about the cultural refusal to hear the word “no” in conversation, and the ramifications for analyzing situations of sexual violence. Drawing on a published study analyzing refusals in everyday conversational language, the post reaches the conclusion that “in sex as in normal conversation, people typically use and understand softened and indirect refusals.” This is important for understanding how people communicate about sex, as there are great cultural pressures especially on women to be polite and not hurt anybody’s feelings. Hence, the women in the study tended to phrase their refusals in terms of inability rather than unwillingness: “I’d love to, but I can’t because…” instead of “I don’t want to.” Continue Reading →

“Jesus Loves Sluts”: So Says the Slut Walk

Are you familiar with the Slut Walk that happened in Toronto recently? If you are, this site has some of their favorite signs from the walk. If you are not familiar with the Slut Walk, it’s a protest against a comment that the Toronto police said regarding sexual assault. The police said that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victims.” As an advocate at a rape crisis center, a feminist, and a health educator, this comment was incredibly insulting to me. I regularly hear the myth that if a woman is sexually assaulted it has something to do with what she is wearing (which already assumes that only women are sexually assaulted and also that wearing something else could have prevented this act of violence). Continue Reading →

Why You Should Know Who Sunita Murmu Is

While in Chennai, I was reading a newspaper (The Hindu) and saw an article about a sixteen-year-old named Sunita Murmu. I’d never heard of her before, and I expect most Westerners haven’t. But you should know her story. As one news story summarizes, Sunita faced persecution in her village in West Bengal when she got romantically involved with a non-tribal boy from a nearby village. The local tribal panchayat, or self-proclaimed governing body, sentenced her to be stripped publicly and endure sexual harassment while walking around her village. Continue Reading →