All Posts Tagged With: "rape"
Instead of drinking, focus on the sex predators next door
Last month, hundreds paraded through the campus of the University of British Columbia to protest sexual violence, speciﬁcally six unsolved late-night outdoor attacks on female students since April. A hooded predator prowling dark grounds in search of coeds is a familiar conceit, one that informs how we think of sexual violence on campuses. Recently it was given airing in a Toronto Life story that claimed increased safety measures at Toronto’s York University, where women receive “rape whistles” at orientation, haven’t prevented campus grounds from being “a hunting ground for sexual predators.” (The school has taken legal action, claiming the article “presents a wholly distorted picture of women’s safety on the campus.”) Yet the UBC march to “Take Back the Night”—a rallying cry since the ’70s—bristled with more nuanced references to the reality of campus sexual assault, the vast majority of which are never reported nor easily framed in black-and-white terms. Signs held high connected the current attacks with entrenched “rape culture”—sexual violence being ignored, condoned and normalized, witnessed in the “rape chant” on the UBC campus in September. Other placards decried the RCMP reporting some UBC victims were wearing short skirts: “My little black dress does not mean yes,” read one.
UBC administration responded to concerns and fear with predictable reassurances. President Stephen Toope described the university as “one of the safest campuses in North America” and announced “unprecedented police and security measures to make sure students feel safe.”
Yes, rapists are responsible, not low-cut tops, but…
This week Slate advice columnist Emily Yoffe incurred the wrath of Twitter with her ambitiously titled column, “College Women: Stop Getting Drunk”. Yoffe’s argument? College women should refrain from getting blotto because a lot of sexual assaults on campus involve alcohol; women who don’t imbibe excessively may be less susceptible to sexual assault. She writes:
“Let’s be totally clear: Perpetrators are the ones responsible for committing their crimes, and they should be brought to justice. But we are failing to let women know that when they render themselves defenseless, terrible things can be done to them. Young women are getting a distorted message that their right to match men drink for drink is a feminist issue. The real feminist message should be that when you lose the ability to be responsible for yourself, you drastically increase the chances that you will attract the kinds of people who, shall we say, don’t have your best interest at heart. That’s not blaming the victim; that’s trying to prevent more victims.”
Reaction to SMU chant brings to mind Mao… and elephants
I’m not the sort of person to justify one wrong with another—well, actually I am, so stop reading now or hang in—but to invoke a hackneyed bit of rhetoric, am I the only person in Canada who thinks the frosh controversy utterly daft? Initiation rites at Halifax’s St. Mary’s University include chants. This year’s song sheet had a vulgar golden oldie that till now has barely caused a ripple. Last week the same lyrics became a tsunami, perhaps because Nova Scotia is, well, far northeast and has never heard of Miley Cyrus twerking.
If you’re not familiar with the lyrics in question, I can tell you it takes some googling. CBC’s dead-serious talking heads pronounced the words to be the end of civilization as they knew it, but daintily avoided saying them—very twee. My faith in the great Canadian people holds we have a low enough sex drive and high enough moral standard to read them without engaging in rape and pillage: “Y is for your sister, O is for oh so tight, U is for underage, N is for no consent, G for grab that ass, SMU boys we like them young.” Not uplifting reading, not Yeats and not the much-honoured poet Philip Larkin, though it brings to mind his line, “They f–k you up your mum and dad,” which, had Larkin known him, might also have included the name of Colin Dodds, the president of SMU, who, on hearing the chant, exclaimed, “What do you think I feel?” and then answered his own question with, “I feel sick to my stomach.”
Saint Mary’s frosh chanted about non-consensual sex
HALIFAX – About 200 students rallied on the campus of Saint Mary’s University in Halifax today, saying it’s time for young people to talk openly about consent, sex and gender equality.
The rally comes a week after the university made headlines for a chant that promoted non-consensual sex with young girls, prompting the president of the student union to resign from his post.
The chant, captured on video and posted on social media, was sung at a frosh-week event for about 400 new students at the school.
Lewis Rendell, a student who helped organize the rally, says rape culture and victim-blaming is a societal problem that extends beyond the university.
Saint Mary’s University isn’t the only Canadian school to come under fire for offensive activities and events.
Two student executives with the University of British Columbia’s commerce undergraduate society quit Wednesday after a chant similar to the one sung in Halifax was recited at a frosh-week event.
On Tuesday, the engineering society at the Memorial University of Newfoundland apologized for handing out beer mugs with a sexually suggestive message at an off-campus student party.
In response to the outcry over the chant, Saint Mary’s University announced a special panel this week that will look at ways to prevent sexual harassment on campus.
Video interview spreads across social media
A McGill student who was raped has told her story publicly for the first time to TV McGill. The video interview is spreading fast on Facebook and has already been viewed more than 5,000 times.
Sarelle Sheldon says she was out with a couple of friends at a Montreal bar when a guy who she had been “trying to give the cold shoulder” started talking to her. Her friends went upstairs. After that, things got fuzzy. She woke up in the hospital with police, doctors and social workers who said she was raped and found in an alleyway with almost no clothing. She remembers the man from the bar holding her against a wall. She remembers scratching him. That was only the beginning of the pain. She alleges that the police didn’t take her case seriously enough. The rapist wasn’t caught.
Sheldon says McGill refunded her courses and a university counsellor helped her work through the trauma. “It’s not something you can handle on your own and you may not be comfortable speaking with your friends and family,” she advises, “but you need to get it out.” Watch Breaking the Silence.
(Video credit: Cedric Yarish, Spencer Macnaughton)
Rick Ross gets cancelled but Tyga performs
A hip-hop concert cancelled earlier this month in Ottawa is fueling debate about which performers student union money should fund and whether artists’ freedom of expression has been silenced.
Pandemonium, the annual year-end show subsidized by the Carleton University Students’ Association (CUSA) and the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO), was to be headlined by rapper Rick Ross on April 9. But numerous students from both universities urged their student unions to pull out because they said Ross’ recent lyrics glorify date rape. SFUO and CUSA eventually pulled the plug and the show was cancelled. Shortly afterward, athletics company Reebok announced it was dropping Ross.
It’s not just an issue in Ottawa. At Harvard University, a performance by the rapper Tyga went ahead Saturday despite an online petition with more than 1,000 signatures demanding a student board cancel it. Petitioners said his lyrics in the song “Bitch Betta Have My Money,” are “explicitly and violently misogynistic.” Tyga performed the song on the weekend, “despite all the haters.”
Five things students are talking about today (February 20th)
1. Elisa Lam, a University of British Columbia student reported missing Jan. 31st, has been found dead inside a water tank atop a Los Angeles skid row hotel. A hotel worker discovered the body while investigating complaints of low water pressure, reports to The Canadian Press. Guests told reporters gathered outside that they were disgusted by the idea they were possibly drinking water from the tank, reports CBC News. Lam, who was vacationing alone in California, was last seen on Jan. 31st in the hotel elevator. There were reports she was acting strangely.
2. The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs’ list of ways to deter a sexual assault includes the following tips: “Tell your attacker that you have a disease or are menstruating,” and “Vomiting or urinating may also convince the attacker to leave you alone.” The list was widely criticized by conservative and liberals pundits alike (finally—they agree!) on Twitter before the university took it down. The university says the list, which was first published in 2006 and provided to women who took a self-defense class, was taken out of context.
Study shows increased risk of sexual assault
Studying overseas is an overwhelmingly positive experience for most students, but it comes with some risks. A new study showed an increased incidence of sexual assaults, including rape, among undergraduate women from a U.S. school who studied in non-English-speaking countries.
It’s a shocking—although small—study. Out of 218 undergraduates surveyed, 60 (that’s 27.5 per cent) reported at least one experience of unwanted touching while abroad, 13 (6 per cent) reported an attempted sexual assault (anal, oral or vaginal) and 10 (4.6 per cent) reported rape. That risk of rape was five times higher during the semesters abroad than semesters in the U.S.
One of the study’s authors told Inside Higher Education he suspects “legal access to alcohol, lack of familiarity with the culture, maybe weaknesses in the language, and potentially even being seen as somewhat vulnerable within the country” may contribute to the higher incidence of assaults.
Liberals up, Cubans defecting & art students protesting
1. In the wake of Justin Trudeau’s announcement that he will run for the Liberals, a new Nanos Research poll puts the party in second place for the first time since April. The Conservatives have 33.3 per cent support, the Liberals have 30.1 per cent and the NDP is at 27.9 per cent. The Liberals are now in first place in Ontario and B.C., while Quebec still strongly supports the NDP. The Conservatives gained in Atlantic Canada.
2. Three players from the Cuban men’s soccer team who vanished before a World Cup qualifying match in Toronto defected, according to FIFA. “As with any Cuban sport team that travels around the world, they’re all chasing the American dream,” coach Alexander Gonzalez told The Canadian Press. Or the Canadian dream.
3. After five years preparing, Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner jumped from the edge of space on Sunday. He hit speeds of 1,336 kilmotres per hour after leaping from nearly 39 kilometres above the New Mexico desert. His free fall was four minutes long. He said he had tears in his eyes.
A Bieber fan attacked, James Franco & #RIP Amanda Todd
1. A Vancouver Justin Bieber fan had her night nearly ruined. Simran Mann wrote her name inside a heart with a Bieber reference on a pillar outside Rogers Arena. The problem was that pillar was a memorial for Canuck’s player Rick Rypien. Hockey fans tracked her down on Twitter and unleashed a fury: “Please hang yourself, so I can destroy your grave,” wrote one. Ouch.
2. Speaking of the Canucks, Kevin Bieksa and Daniel Sedin will play a charity game at UBC on Oct. 17. Both men are angry that sold-out tickets are being re-sold by scalpers on Craigslist.
3. Canadians are standing up against bullying with the hashtag #RIP Amanda Todd, in honour of the 15-year-old B.C. girl who killed herself after releasing an anti-bullying video on YouTube.
Report from Simon Fraser University
A new report by Canadian researchers challenges the widespread belief that rape is increasingly being used as a “weapon of war.”
The report by a research team at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver says there is no compelling evidence to support this belief or the assumption that the experience of the small number of countries afflicted by extreme levels of sexual violence is shared in other conflict zones.
But Sebastian Merz, associate director of the project that produced the report, told a news conference here Wednesday there is evidence, which is largely overlooked, that the most common perpetrators of sexual violence in wartime are husbands, partners or other family members — not combatants.
Police seek suspect
UPDATE: Saskatoon Police have arrested a 22-year-old male in connection with the sexual assault referenced below.
Police are looking for a male suspect after a sexual assault on May 23 at the University of Saskatchewan. From the Saskatoon Police:
At approximately 1:00 p.m. on May 23, 2012, the female victim was on campus when she was approached by a male. He convinced her to attend a nearby parking lot off of Seminary Crescent. When they arrived, the suspect sexually assaulted the female before fleeing on foot. The suspect is described as having dark skin and black hair. He was last seen wearing a black shirt with a dark blue or black jacket, and white sunglasses. The victim wasn’t physically harmed.
University strikes task force after second alleged assault
Boston University has created a task force to study the “culture and climate” of its men’s hockey team after a second player was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a female student.
Max Nicastro, 21, a BU Terriers defenceman and Detroit Red Wings draft pick, was charged on Feb. 19 with two counts of rape.
That came after the Dec. 11 arrest of former teammate and Toronto-bred centre Corey Trivino, 21, who allegedly forced his way into a student’s room and groped her against her will. Trivino has pleaded not guilty.
BU president Robert A. Brown said in a statement Thursday that the task force reflects “a University-level judgment that the two incidents indicate something systemic or habitual may foster a team climate that does not comport with the highest standards of conduct we seek to maintain…”
Follows years of student lobbying
After years of lobbying from students, Carleton University has announced that the school will open a support centre for victims of sexual assault. Advocates began pushing for a crisis support centre in 2007 after an attack in a school lab. But the university resisted the creation of a separate centre, arguing it offered sufficient support through counselling and medical services.
Then, at least three sexual assaults on women were reported on campus last fall, raising the volume on the demands emanating from the Coalition for a Carleton Sexual Assault Support Centre, a group of volunteers who run an unofficial victims’ campus hotline from eight a.m. to midnight.
Linda Capperauld, director of equity services for Carleton, told the Ottawa Citizen Tuesday that the administration will run the new centre in Robertson Hall. It may open as early as September.
“Poor wording” says debate society
The University of Calgary Debate Society is blaming the cancellation of an upcoming debate on “poor wording.” They advertised an event on Facebook earlier this month that stated the debaters would discuss whether to “hold women partially accountable for rape prevention.”
Students complained. The event was cancelled.
“People do often debate things they don’t necessarily believe in,” the society’s training co-ordinator Pardeep Dhaliwal told Metro Calgary. That much is true—debaters frequently argue about absurd things. And it wasn’t intended to be offensive. In fact, the debate was planned in conjunction with the Calgary Sexual Assault Voices, which has been part of the Don’t Be THAT Guy campaign, which has targeted young men with ads that say things like “Just because she’s drunk doesn’t mean she wants to f**k.” and “sex without consent = sexual assault.”
Distributed sexually offensive pamphlets
Queen’s University’s bands were suspended yesterday after distributing offensive pamphlets.
The pamphlets contained phrases that made light of rape, lewd photos and nods to bestiality, according to the Queen’s Journal. Entitled “The Banner,” versions of the mock song-books have been distributed to band members for years. The Queen’s Bands Executive sent an email Wednesday to bands members ordering them to destroy all hard copy or digital versions.
But it was too late. They were asked to meet with the Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs, Anne Tierney, who suspended the club. Band members have developed an action plan that could allow them to be reinstated next year. It includes human rights training.
The media frenzy around the pamphlets comes at a bad time for Queen’s officials. Yesterday, they distanced itself from a fake ad that plays up Queen’s stereotypes—sexual proclivity included.
Manitoba justice was wrong to base ruling on rape victim’s clothing
All you girls out there better think twice before dressing up for a night out. After all, it seems that wearing a braless tube top is now judicially perceived as equivalent to the phrase, “Yes, I would like to have intercourse with you.” Heels mean you’re a harlot, in case you didn’t know, and wearing makeup implies you’re ready for a whole lot of fun. In future, eyes on the floor, skin clear, and for Christ’s sake keep those ankles covered. That way, we won’t have any confusion about so-called “consensual” sex.
These helpful hints are in accordance with a recent ruling by Manitoba’s Justice Robert Dewar, who decided that a man convicted of rape would not serve time in prison. According to Dewar, the victim sent signals that “sex was in the air,” specifically noting her attire which included high heels, a tube top without a bra, and lots of makeup. Commenting on the behaviour of the victim and her friend, Dewar said, “They made their intentions publicly known that they wanted to party.”
The obvious explanation is that Justice Dewar must’ve studied under Toronto’s Constable Michael Sanguinetti, who told a room full of York University students last month that they can avoid sexual assault by not dressing like “sluts.” The onus is on you, girls; make sure you don’t give the impression that you’re some sort of trollop. Because if you do—well, that’s pretty much the same thing as explicitly saying “yes,” right?
Actually, no. The Supreme Court of Canada struck down the idea of implied consent as a viable defense over a decade ago in a ruling involving the case of R. v. Ewanchuk. And before that, in 1992, Canada established rape shield law provisions essentially limiting the extent to which a victim’s sexual history could be brought into a rape trial. Both moves were seen as positive steps forward with regards to altering “blame the victim” attitudes often prevalent in sexual assault cases. But as they say, one step forward…
Rulings such as Dewar’s and comments such as Sanguinetti’s not only reinforce negative stereotypes about rape victims who “ask for it,” but will likely dissuade further victims from coming forward and pressing charges. As is, just one in nine cases of sexual assault is actually reported to police; and I can see why victims may want to avoid having their tube tops as Exhibit A and their flirtatious texts as Exhibit B. As long as we keep blaming the victim, we can expect few to come forward.
So let me reiterate: a tube top doesn’t mean “yes.” Falsies don’t mean “yes.” Nor does a smile, or a wink, or a hair toss or twirl. The clothing of the victim in the Manitoba case shouldn’t have been used as the basis for Dewar’s ruling. Those of us who know that shouldn’t less the grass grow under our feet. And mine, I can assure you, will be wearing some killer heels.
Offensive comments are a step back for progressive attitudes toward rape victims
While most of us were horrified to read the news that CBS correspondent Lara Logan had been brutally beaten and raped in Egypt, Nir Rosen, a fellow at NYU Center for Law and Security, just couldn’t resist a few political jabs.
He began his Twitter rant saying:
“Lara Logan had to outdo Anderson. Where was her buddy McCrystal.” (Anderson Cooper had also been attacked while covering the protests in Egypt.)
He then continued:
“Yes yes its wrong what happened to her. Of course. I don’t support that. But, it would have been funny if it happened to Anderson too.” (Rape is hilarious, says NYU scholar.)
And it gets worse:
“Jesus Christ, at a moment when she is going to become a martyr and glorified we should at least remember her role as a major war monger.” (Don’t feel too bad for her, she propagates war!)
“Look, she was probably groped like thousands of other women, which is still wrong, but if it was worse than [sic] I’m sorry.” (Maybe if I pluralize her plight than you’ll see my point? Uhh… *then.)
Followed, of course, by a feeble attempt a damage control:
“ah fuck it, I apologize for being insensitive, it’s always wrong, that’s obvious, but I’m rolling my eyes at all the attention she will get.”
Then a better one:
“As someone who’s devoted his career to defending victims and supporting justice, I’m very ashamed for my insensitive and offensive comments.”
It’s hard not to be disgusted by Rosen’s remarks. Despite much of the progress that’s taken place in Western society in recent decades with regards to the perception of women and gender equality, sexual assault is one of those issues that seems to lag behind. It wasn’t until 1983 with Bill C-127, for example, that a man could be charged for sexually assaulting his wife. And later, in 1992, when victim blaming finally took a hit with a rape shield law laying out strict guidelines governing how accusers’ previous sexual conduct could be brought into assault trials. Then there are treasures, such as Whoopi Goldberg, who defended Roman Polanski’s rape of a 13-year-old girl as not “rape-rape,” and worrying stories of honour killings taking place in Canadian cities where girls deemed “sexually immodest” are murdered for dishonouring families.
Blaming the victim is not new, although usually the line is: “Well, if she went out looking like that…” rather than “Well, she is a war monger, after all.” But politicizing tragedy is always tasteless, no matter how you spin it. Whether it’s rejoicing in the grave illness of a political opponent or using a horrific incident to malign those on the other side of the table, there is usually little to be reaped for such rhetoric except for some pitiful self-satisfaction.
As a man and an academic who purports to be a progressive human rights advocate, Rosen has let his larger political agenda blind him from acknowledging individual injustice. Remarks such as his, which are so poorly and misguidedly contextualized, hinder the progression of attitudes towards rape victims and women overall. It seems he can only support justice as long as its on his terms. Your move, NYU.
Update: Nir Rosen submitted his resignation to NYU earlier today. The university has accepted.