Feminist Link Round Up 11.8.14

MIT releases results of survey on sexual assault

One in six female undergraduates at Massachusetts Institute of Technology who responded to a survey has been sexually assaulted, but fewer than 5 percent reported a sex crime, MIT said.

Five percent of female undergraduates said they had been raped and one in five knew a perpetrator of unwanted sexual behavior, according to the MIT poll, which had a response rate of 35 percent from undergraduate and graduate students.

“Sexual assault violates our core MIT values. It has no place here,” MIT President Rafael Reif wrote in a campus email Monday accompanying the survey results.

MIT, which urged all its students to take the survey on attitudes towards sexual assault, is one of the first U.S. schools to release wide-ranging data on sex crimes on campus.

Lawmakers, activists and students across the United States have been urging a crackdown on sexual assaults on campuses.

MIT emailed the survey to all of its 10,831 undergraduate and graduate students on April 27 – two days before the White House called on colleges and universities to ask students about these matters.

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Joss Whedon is widely known as a feminist (though not one without problems). From his creation, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, to his support for Anita Sarkeesian, he has made his voice heard in feminist discussions. In a recent interview, he spoke up again, this time sharing his thoughts on why so many people are so angry about feminism.  It’s because something is actually happening:

You know, it’s one of those things that’s always surprising. I was raised by a very strong woman, I didn’t know feminism was actually a thing until I left home and found out the country didn’t run the way my mom’s house did. So I have this goldfish, idiot, forgetful thing in that every time I’m confronted with true misogyny, I’m stunned. I’m like, Really? That’s like, I don’t believe in airplanes. It’s like, What century are you from? I don’t get it. So usually I’m shocked, then occasionally amused, then occasionally extremely not amused, but once I get over the shock, it’s very clear that misogyny in our own culture — and not just where they perform genital mutilation and marry off 10-year-olds — runs so deep. When I see this hate bubbling up towards any kind of progress, my reaction is twofold: First, it’s horror, and then, it’s delight, because you don’t get this kind of anger unless real change is actually happening. It is a chaotic time. It’s an ugly time because change is happening. It would be lovely to be living after the change has happened.

Is change happening?  If so, is that change for the good? I don’t have an answer for either, though I hope Whedon is correct.  As a member of the atheist community, I’ve seen (and taken part in) discussions of women’s rights in the atheist movement. I’ve watched people argue against harassment policies. I’ve watched people argue against the movement being more welcoming to women. I’ve also seen the issue of feminism brought up in the comic book community, which I’ve also taken part in. I’ve read rant after rant of fanboys complain about people advocating for better representation of women in comics. I’ve listened to sexist twerps whine about how men are just as sexually objectified as women in comics (the male power fantasy is not sexual objectification; nevermind that comics have traditionally been aimed at boys and men–do these people not stop to realize that their examples of male sexual objectification-if true-would be aimed at them? Have they forgotten that a great many of them are heterosexual? Think, you fools). I’ve heard about sexism and misogyny in the gaming community (seriously, who hasn’t heard of GamerGate at this point), and the pushback against simple things like improving the treatment of women in video games (which wouldn’t fundamentally change the games, but would make them more welcoming to women, which means increasing the $$, unless legions of misogynistic fuckwits seriously plan on no longer purchasing video games unless female characters are sexualized). I’ve read about feminist issues in the science fiction/fantasy community. I’ve read about feminism in a wide variety of communities, and perhaps that’s a good thing.  This is getting talked about. Women are making their voices heard.  More and more men are speaking up in support of women and making their voices heard too.  It hasn’t been pleasant, don’t get me wrong. But perhaps Whedon is correct.  Maybe all this harassment, misogyny, rape/death threats…maybe it’s a sign that change is in the works. I hope so. I’m tired of women being run out of atheism, chased out of the video game community, or made to feel unwelcome at comic book conventions. Women should be able to participate in society to whatever extent they choose without street harassment, sexual harassment, or the threat of sexual assault or physical harm.

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 Mitt Romney:  ‘War on Women’? What ‘War on Women’?

47% of Americans pay no income taxes and are dependent on the federal government.

The middle class income is $200-$250K/year.

50% of kids coming out of school can’t get a job.

All those assertions (and more) have been made by Mitt Romney, and all of them are wrong. We can add something new to the list of claims made by Mitt Romney that are wrong:

“This rhetoric about the war on women or the war on one thing or another, I think people are saying, “You know, this just doesn’t carry water anymore.”

Birth Control.

Abortion Rights.

Violence Against Women Act.

The War on Women does indeed hold water. It is an ongoing attempt by the Republican Party to restrict the rights and opportunities of women in the United States. As with other statements made by Mitt Romney, this comment indicates he lacks an understanding of what he’s talking about. It’s especially egregious that a man with his money could be this smugnorant (portmanteau of ‘smug’ and ‘ignorant’).

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Saudi Arabia may relax ban on women drivers

The Saudi king’s advisory council — whose suggestions are not binding — has recommended that the government lift its ban on female drivers, a member of the council told The Associated Press Friday. Local media subsequently quoted an official denying the report.

There have been years of campaigning against the kingdom’s staunch rejection of any review of the ban. Though they are not obligatory on the government, simply making the recommendation would be a major step after years of the kingdom staunchly rejecting any review of the ban.

There have been small but increasingly bold protests by women who took to their cars over the past year. The driving ban, which is unique in the world, is imposed because the kingdom’s ultraconservative Muslim clerics say “licentiousness” will spread if women drive.

The council member said the Shura Council made the recommendations in a secret, closed session held in the past month. The member spoke on condition of anonymity because the recommendations had not been made public.

After the AP story first appeared, Shura Council spokesman Mohammed al-Muhanna told Al-Riyadh newspaper that reports about “the approval of the council of women driving” are not true.

There was no mention of the recommendation on the Saudi Press Agency, the kingdom’s official state news agency. Al-Muhanna could not be reached directly, and other officials declined to comment publicly.

Under the recommendations outlined by the council member speaking to AP, only women over 30 would be allowed to drive and they would need permission from a male relative — usually a husband or father, but lacking those, a brother or son. They would be allowed to drive from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday through Wednesday and noon to 8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday. It wasn’t immediately clear why the restrictions would be different Thursday and Friday, as the Saudi weekend was changed by royal decree in 2013 to Friday and Saturday.

Similar provisions have been floated as far back as 2008 as conditions for allowing women to eventually drive. It seems that the recommendations last month were building off the earlier studies, now with the additional contributions from women members in the council, appointed by the king last year.

The conditions also require that a woman driver wear conservative dress and no make-up, the official said. Within cities, they can drive without a male relative in the car, but outside of cities, a male is required to be present.

The notion that women should need “permission” to drive, or that they can’t wear whatever the hell they want, or wear make-up is so fucking oppressive and misogynistic.

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Stop Asking Why the Women Accusing Jian Ghomeshi Didn’t Go to the Cops

We have to face the possibility that in this world, the only one we’ve got, a woman who says she was attacked by a powerful man can’t necessarily expect justice and protection if she goes running to the law. That if she tells, her home address and telephone number will probably be splashed across the Internet where demented ragey misogynists will use them to terrorize her. That she’s not crazy to worry her relationships with her parents, her partners, her friends and colleagues will be forever altered if they hear about it, because lots of people just aren’t emotionally equipped to deal with a loved one going through something like this.

“So why didn’t I do anything?” says Reva Seth, the latest woman to come forward with a story about being attacked by Ghomeshi. “This is the part that I think is so important to understand if we are ever going to change the context in which rape culture and violence against women is perpetuated. I didn’t do anything because it didn’t seem like there was anything to do…And even if I had wanted to do something, as a lawyer, I’m well aware that the scenario was just a “he said/she said” situation. I was aware that I, as a woman who had had a drink or two, shared a joint, had gone to his house willingly and had a sexual past, would be eviscerated. Cultural frameworks on this are powerful.”

So either these nine women are all irresponsible dummies—doesn’t sound like it—or they did what tons of people in their shoes would do. They didn’t tell, because telling can be more painful than not telling. This is depressing, confusing, and awkward, but it’s also what happened.

Those refusing to understand why victims of sexual assault or rape choose not to inform the authorities may think the world is just and fair. That if they really were victimized it would be a simple thing to go to the cops, who would believe them, and arrest the rapist. Then the rapist would be brought up on charges and be convicted of a crime and go to jail.  Sadly, that’s often not how reality works.  The world isn’t fair. It isn’t just. The Just World Fallacy is exactly that.  A fallacy.

Feminist Link Round Up 11.8.14

8 thoughts on “Feminist Link Round Up 11.8.14

  1. 3

    My upbringing seems to have been similar to Whedon’s. I came into the wider world wondering what all the fuss was. I have tried to come up with a blog post more than once trying to describe where I am coming from feminist-wise, but it always get complicated as I try to point out where I screwed up and how I didn’t mean to screw up…

    I have no memory of a time I thought women should be treated any differently than men. I know now that there were probably many of those microaggressions that I performed unknowingly despite thinking that. All I can say is that I am constantly learning and trying to do better.

  2. 4

    I think you should write that oft-delayed post. Remember, no one expects you to be perfect. Talk about your experiences and your feelings. Be frank. Acknowledge where you went wrong, how you became aware of it, how you handled it, how you vowed to change and grow. While you may have screwed up, we all do that. The question after that becomes What Now? You’ve chosen to learn from your mistakes and be open to criticism and try to do better. That’s all anyone could ask for, and it’s the mark of someone trying to be a good person.

  3. 5

    Every version I have started has ended up rambling and scattered. I try in the background to wrestle it into some sort of order, but… it’s going to be a bit before I get this essay into a form I like.

  4. 6

    If I may…sometimes rambling and scattered can be a good thing. A friend of mine told me that when she reads my comments at Pharyngula or on my blog, they “sound” to her like I’m in a conversation with someone. Which is quite close to the truth. I don’t blog as if I’m writing a paper, or throwing up a column on a news site. I write as I think and feel. Often in the moment. While I’m usually focused on a particular subject, I have been known to ramble. All of that is to say that perhaps it could be a good thing to let loose. In fact, maybe you should let fly all your thoughts, as they come to you in a rough draft format. Get it all in there, no matter how chaotic. Then wait a few days or a week and come back to it and organize it. Maybe it will come out better if you’re looking at all the info and then focus it in the manner you’d like.
    Just my .02 cents.

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