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Member since: Wed Oct 22, 2003, 11:58 AM
Number of posts: 112,649

About Me

"Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people." Eleanor Roosevelt

Journal Archives

i believe you | it's not your fault

An excellent tumblr.

trigger warning for rape & suicidal ideation


A few examples:

Sometimes You Freeze
By Anonymous

Dear Teenager,

I’m about to tell you something that I didn’t know until it happened to me.

A few years ago, I was raped by someone I thought was my friend. Actually, I thought we might date eventually. At the time, I told him I was still nursing a broken heart and wasn’t ready to be with him. Because he supposedly cared about me, I thought this would make him leave me alone. It did not. He thought he could make overpowering me physically into a romantic entanglement. I remember getting a text message from him a couple weeks later asking for my address. He wanted to come pick me up and take me out for a fancy dinner, nice dress for me and suit for him. I had a panic attack under my comforter before being able to tell him no. It took me nearly a year to come to terms with the fact that I’d been raped. I wanted so badly for it to have been a misunderstanding.

I couldn’t remember the details of what happened. I could remember some moments very clearly. But I couldn’t remember saying no, and I couldn’t remember fighting back. I lived with so much guilt because of this. I’m strong and opinionated. I state my wishes clearly. I had had friends who had been victims of violence before, so it’s not like I was unfamiliar with the concept.

But what nobody told me was that our bodies react in different ways to violence. When we feel we are in danger, our instincts take over. Our conscious thoughts fall by the wayside. We may not run away or fight back physically if our bodies decide that freezing is what will be most effective in preserving our physical and mental health. If you’ve ever heard of “playing possum,” that’s when an opossum pretends to be dead so that other animals will leave it alone. Humans do this, too. I remember falling asleep in hopes that he would leave me alone. It worked for a while, so my body made a good call.

If you are violated and you don’t remember why you took certain actions or did certain things, please don’t berate yourself. You were not complicit in your attack. From the moment your attacker made it clear that your wishes about your own body were secondary to his/her wishes, your body was in emergency mode. What it did, it did to protect you. You, your body, were always trying to take care of you and make sure you were alive the next day.

And just because you don’t remember something doesn’t mean you didn’t say or do it. As I started to recover from the attack, I recovered some of my memories. I did fight back—not with my fists, but with my wits. I’d used creative ruses to try to get out of the room, I’d said many different shades of no. When that didn’t stop him, my mind even tried to minimize damage by trying to turn the encounter consensual. I tried to care about him; I tried to want him. I felt so guilty about this after the fact, because I felt like I’d betrayed myself in the moment. But I was just trying to survive until tomorrow. I was trying to stay sane.

If you’re having a hard time putting words to what happened, if you’re afraid to call it by its name, if your reactions were confusing and don’t fit the narrative of what our culture identifies as rape, that doesn’t mean anything. Each attack is different, perpetrated by a different person under different circumstances, and each survivor is different, too. If you don’t hear other people with your story, it probably means that they’ve just been too scared to put words to it yet. I’ve been there.

And I believe you. It’s not your fault.

- Anonymous

It Was Not Nothing
By Jenny Yang

Dear Little Sister,

I was quite young when I realized my own parents weren’t the most emotionally supportive. I wish we didn’t have to be so young to learn that sometimes our own parents can let us down. I knew they loved me, but so many things get in the way of kids getting the love that we need.

Most of these things are totally out of our control. In my case, I was the youngest of our immigrant family. I got better at speaking English and “being American” than the rest of my family. A lot of times, my own parents relied on me to figure out the world, even when I was very young. Sometimes our own parents are not the best place get comfort when we are being mistreated by the world—especially if this is a world that they don’t understand. And sometimes, sadly, grownups just think that our life is so small when we are little and young.

I was the only girl and youngest of three kids. When I was six years old, I was new to the block and finally playing with the neighbor kids on a regular basis. This one day, a boy from the next street over showed up. He was this jagged-toothed, sandy blonde white kid with a mischievous grin.

He interrupted our freeze tag and started making fun of me. I didn’t quite speak enough English after only being in America for less than a year, but I could see that his face was mocking me. Maybe he knew that I didn’t understand his words so he had to make himself perfectly clear.

After laughing at my face for what felt like forever, he reached underneath my flouncy knee-length skirt and flipped it up. My face got hot and all the other kids started laughing and pointing. They saw my underwear and I knew the kid was being mean.

He tried flipping up my skirt again but I ran away just in time. I escaped to my house with hot tears streaming down my face.

As I heard the sound of the screen door slam behind me, I realized I had interrupted my mom who was deep in conversation, speaking Mandarin Chinese with a neighbor lady. I screamed in Chinese, “Mom! The boy down the street. He was laughing at me and he flipped up my skirt.”

While I cried and clutched fists full of my skirt in anger, all I wanted was a hug or an “I’m sorry this happened to you.” But all I got was laughter. Their laughter echoed the sounds of the kids who mocked me just seconds ago.

“Oh, Jenny! Is that all that happened? He flipped up your skirt? Hahaha.” She turned to her friend and shot her a glance that said, “Oh look at this silly girl.” This friend of my mom also started giggling. Grownups can be so mean sometimes.

“Jenny. Don’t worry about it,” my mom insisted. She was about to turn back to her friend to continue their conversation but I stood there and screamed louder. Something was wrong. Harm was done.

“Mom! He just came up to me and flipped up my skirt! Everyone saw my underwear!”

My mom laughed some more.

"Oh, look at my daughter. Isn’t she funny getting so upset? It’s fine. It’s just your underwear. It’s over.”

“But, mom!”

My mom laughed even harder.

“Look how upset you are. Don’t get upset over this. Nothing happened. It’s nothing.”

In Chinese, the words “mei shi” literally translate to “not a big deal” or “not a thing.” No thing. Nothing.

My mother would go on to contradict herself when it came to how I was supposed to carry my own body. When I got just a few years older, she told me to close my legs when I sat down because “a proper girl didn’t show her underwear.” So when is it okay for a girl to show her underwear? Only when a strange boy forces you to show it?

After feeling rejected by my mom, I ran into the bedroom and cried. I knew there was nothing I could do to get the reaction that I wanted. I wanted my mom to understand that what this boy did was not okay.

From that day forward, I vowed in my heart to never wear a skirt again. I learned that to wear a skirt was to be laughed at and to feel vulnerable. That to be a girl was to be weak and ignored. That life was better to be just like my two much older brothers rather than the silly, youngest girl who was never really seen for how I felt and who I was. That this was just the beginning to learning all the ways that life was so unfair to little girls and young women. That our own parents can love us so much and work really hard to clothe and feed us, but that they might not protect and nourish us in very important ways that help us to grow up, and feel whole and safe.

I am here to tell you all of this because it’s okay. I will believe you when somebody mistreats you. I know it matters to you so it matters to me. You know when you are not being treated well. I’m here to tell you that you are right. You do not deserve to be mocked and bullied by anyone. You deserve to have grownups believe you when you say that you were harmed and violated. Your body is yours. What you wear has nothing to do with other people’s bad behavior.

I see what happened to you. I know exactly how you feel. It was not your fault. I believe you.


Jenny Yang

It Was a Slow Flood
By Leah Williams

Dear teen girl,

I wish I could hold back the floodwaters for you until you could cross safely. I would pull back the tides and restrain all the crashing waves until you felt okay. I wish someone had been able to contain all the waters swelling around me whenever I felt like drowning.

It was a slow flood. It started when I was about nineteen and I was walking home from a film shoot, with my iPod blasting Yeah Yeah Yeahs. It was about five in the morning and I was exhausted. I was living in Brooklyn with my best friend and roommate, and I was walking along 4th Ave towards our apartment, and the streets were empty. It was eerie but peaceful; like the whole world was made just for me to see.

A car slowed down and drove beside me. The tinted window came down and a man said something to me from the inside but I couldn’t hear him over the blare of my music. I walked faster. A moment later, I was being forcefully pulled into the car. There were two men inside. One to hold me down, one to do as he would.

I was a competitive swimmer as a child. I’ve always had very strong legs. I don’t think they were expecting harsh and swift kicks to the head.

I got out and ran. I ducked down a one-way street they couldn’t turn into and I ran until I was safe inside my apartment. I passed out unceremoniously on my bed. Later, when I told the story to my friends, I laughed about it. We all laughed at how ridiculous it was.

Months later I was waiting at a red light when a man pulled up next to me and started masturbating while watching me. I sat there until the light turned green. My heart was pounding and I felt sick. I felt dirty and gross. When I called my friends immediately after, (who, at the time, were all guys) they laughed at me. I eventually laughed too.

A year and a half later I had just moved to Los Angeles and a celebrated painter invited me over to his place for tea. I didn’t know anyone yet or have any friends. I was excited to make a friend, hopefully someone who could help me navigate the waters of a bizarre big new city.

He wanted more than tea. His hand was inside my dress within minutes of me stepping in the door. He kept pleading, pulling at my clothes, and swatting my hands away. I started laughing. I was saying no, and stop, I was saying “Please stop,” but I was laughing so he did too. He ripped my dress. I laughed harder. I forcefully extracted myself and ran home, still laughing. He called me consistently for months afterwards. I saw his paintings all over Hollywood. I saw his picture in the paper, smirking at me from the pages. When we ran into each other, I was polite and deferential. He always wanted to hang out again.

That wasn’t the last time something like that happened to me. There are more stories. I have to separate these memories and string them up innocently, each to each, because when I lay them all out in connection to each other I feel like I am trapped underwater. I feel crushed by something inescapable.

I laugh when I am uncomfortable. I have given a slight smile and a nervous giggle when a predatory man sidles up to me to take his best shot. I have laughed off the unwanted attentions of men who got too close. It took me a very long time to unlearn automatic politeness. It took me a very long time to stop caring about sparing the feelings of men who attacked me.

I know it is exhausting; constantly defending bodily borders. I know that it is complicated; balancing all the things you are supposed to be. I know it’s hard to be the beauty when all you want to do is snarl and be the beast. I know how tiring it can be treading water when all you want to do is let go and drown. I would drink up every ocean if it could protect you from men who pull you into cars or leer at your skirt hems or lure you into their tastefully decorated dens.

After caterpillars wrap themselves up in their cocoons and are comfortably mummified, they liquefy. Everything they are is destroyed before they become butterflies. I just want you to know that despite an insidious undertow trying to tug you down, that you will not drown. Human bodies are 60% water. You are an infinite reservoir, baby, all liquids take the shape of their container. You and me, we’re more than the men who want us to feel small. Nobody can make us feel like the beach flea when we were born to be an arcane and endless sea. I can tell you right now that an unfortunate reality is that the world will only get bigger and badder as you grow older. The monsters lurking in the waves will get harder to slay. The good news is that you get bigger and badder, too, and you will never have to fight them alone if you don’t want to. We will be here for you.

- Leah Williams, age 25

i miss sea's voice. i'm so tired.

I'm so sick of anti-feminist trolls here getting a free pass.

Why the fuck is it allowed?


IT IS GLORFYING AND EROTICIZING VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN! (Like SO MUCH porn does these days. 'but sexxx! so that makes it ok, right? as long as it's sexxxy it's just fun!' /kneejerking ignorant assholes)

And the many, many apathetic "so whats" from those too disinterested to consider that perhaps EROTICIZING VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN just MIGHT have something to do with the FUCKING PANDEMIC OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN.

That's it. I'm fucking done. These people get a pass and we're supposed to patiently hold their hands and sweetly phrase our objections to HAVING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PORTRAYED AS EROTIC AND ROMANTIC.

"Quit Fucking Asking Me Questions: A Refresher Course"

It seems like this important message is in need of further clarification.

So here's another take.

When it comes to being a woman on the internet, there are enough frustrating roadblocks every day to make your brain liquefy and dribble out your ear all gross (more frustrating roadblocks than there are fireplaces at Rosings Park, AMIRITE). But possibly the most frustrating of all are the gnashing hordes constantly demanding that you educate them, educate them, educate them. Oh, you write about sexism on the internet? Well, before we get into all that boring nuance and subtle gender dynamics that feminist scholars have been demarcating for years, can you just back up 17,000 steps and prove to me that inequality exists?

Frank Bruni's op-ed on Monday, titled "Sexism's Puzzling Stamina," was painful in its simplicity. It's comforting to hear gender inequality stated so plainly—accepted so calmly and wholly—by someone outside of the feminist blogosphere. The fact is, our culture is still dealing with the same basic shit that was outraging kitchen-table progressives 20 years ago. We confuse comfort for freedom and then lambast women for complaining. We blame victims and apologize for predators. We dictate, to exacting standards, how women's bodies should look and move. We see nothing wrong with asking a female professional how her kids handle her frequent business trips, and whether or not she's considered staying home. We do not ask the same of men.

While racism and homophobia are treated, in mainstream discourse, like abominations (however meekly we might combat them and however aggressively they go to ground), sexism is still something of a grey area. Here's Bruni:

I keep flashing back more than two decades, to 1991. That was the year of the Tailhook incident, in which some 100 Navy and Marine aviators were accused of sexually assaulting scores of women. It was the year of Susan Faludi’s runaway best seller, “Backlash,” on the “war against American women,” as the subtitle said. It was when the issue of sexual harassment took center stage in Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearings.

All in all it was a festival of teachable moments, raising our consciousness into the stratosphere. So where are we, fully 22 years later?

We’re listening to Saxby Chambliss, a senator from Georgia, attribute sexual abuse in the military to the ineluctable “hormone level” of virile young men in proximity to nubile young women.


Our racial bigotry has often been tied to the ignorance abetted by unfamiliarity, our homophobia to a failure to realize how many gay people we know and respect.

Well, women are in the next cubicle, across the dinner table, on the other side of the bed.


Maybe I shouldn't be so hostile. If you've been on the receiving end of a "hush, the grown-ups are talking" or a crying cat gif, and that was painful for you, my bad. After all you're just asking, and wasn't I just saying that I'm committed to discourse and critical thinking? Yes. I am. But here's the thing: you're not. This isn't a new derailing tactic—it's ancient. One million people have written about it before me. But if my Twitter feed is any indication, plenty of people haven't read up on their own bad behavior (weird) and need a goddamn refresher. So here's the late, great Derailing for Dummies on the subject. (Sometimes I just read Derailing for Dummies over and over again instead of therapy.)

By insisting you can only learn if they right then and there sacrifice further hours of time going over the same ground they have so often in the past, you may also make them give up and go away altogether, enabling you to win by default.

But further, you give the impression that you really want to learn, but they’re holding you back! That’s right, using this tactic you can suggest that full understanding is what you crave – you want to be a better, more connected and compassionate person – but it’s not your fault! Nobody ever gave you the education! And now that someone is here who is so obviously qualified, they’re denying you your Privilege® given right to have everything you want handed to you on a platter!



I'm sure feminists are well aware of the difference between someone who is genuinely interested in engaging with feminists about feminism and feminist issues, and someone who is not.

There are differing opinions about the benefit of feeding such trolls. Sure some who are just reading the discussions might learn stuff and if so that's great.

The point is that a refusal to do so should not be misconstrued as a feminist 'not doing her job' or 'not being a good activist'... this is a derailing tactic and anyone who ignores these requests is most certainly not acting in bad faith by doing so.

19 Sobering Confessions That Capture America's College Rape Crisis

An estimated 17.7 million American women and 2.78 million men have been the victim of an attempted or completed rape. Victims of a sexual assault are three times as likely to suffer from depression, six times more likely to suffer from PTSD, 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol, 26 times more likely to use drugs, and four times as likely to contemplate suicide. Adolescent female rape victims may be over three times as likely to attempt suicide.

Despite a right-wing backlash against the sexual assault awareness movement, social science has demonstrated America's problem with rape is still alive and well. A discomforting survey recently released by Sen. Claire McCaskill's (D-Mo.) office included revelations that 41% of American universities and colleges out of a representative sample of 350 schools haven't launched a single sexual assault investigation in the past five years. More than 20% let the athletic department handle charges against student athletes, a statistic that McCaskill called "borderline outrageous."

"Our system fails repeatedly," Laura Dunn, founder of SurvJustice, told Bloomberg. "We only prosecute stranger rapes, our laws don't acknowledge what consent really means, we ignore alcohol-intoxicated sexual assaults, and we blame victims."

Even when sexual assaults do get investigated — 60% are never reported to the police — the cases are often handled irresponsibly. According to the New York Times, there is likely a backlog of at least 100,000 rape kits awaiting analysis laying around police evidence rooms or crime labs. When 11,000 unprocessed rape kits were uncovered at a Denver crime lab, police were able to identify more than 100 serial rapists. Nationally, RAINN estimates just three offenders serve time for every 100 rapes.

Whisper is a service that allows users to post anonymous messages. These Whispers show the thoughts of survivors of sexual assault in American colleges:



“Political correctness”: decoding a vicious, pernicious code word

I always cringe when I hear the phrase “political correctness” being used. It’s a deeply coded phrase, and what it encodes is a stubborn, neoconservative cultural politics, a politics of entitlement and disrespect. And yet that politics is so deeply coded that one encounters the phrase being used by people who should know better; and maybe they will learn to avoid the phrase, if they take the time to get caught up on its context and complexity. If I never see it being taken out and waved around in public discourse again, it will be too soon.


More plain-spoken versions of this definition appear as ripostes to a diatribe against political correctness that was published (unsurprisingly enough) on the Richard Dawkins Foundation website:

“Political Correctness” – Buzzword used to express the absurd notion that the majority is being dominated by the minorities. (foundationist)

Political correctness is formalised good manners. It has been a benefit to society. Before it became influential it was common to see overt racism, sexism, homophobia, jokes about the disabled and so on. Fortunately a culture of respect for diversity developed and with it a culture of disrespect for rudeness – political correctness. … The term ‘political correctness’ can be used as a verbal weapon by those who want to do extreme things, things which would attack equality and human rights. When others complain, the response ‘that’s just political correctness’ is supposed to be a conversation stopper, because political correctness is supposed to be wrong. Complaining about political correctness is as absurd as complaining about good manners. The response ‘that’s just political correctness’ usually translates as ‘that’s just being polite’. (Zara)

In other words, “political correctness” is a nasty way to describe talking nicely, as though talking nicely is nasty. This rhetorical duplicity, coupled with the privileged, dominant positions from which pronouncements on political correctness typically come, has made the phrase “political correctness” slippery, robust, and insidious. The phrase thus provides a present-day example of “political speech and writing” as “the defense of the indefensible,” as criticized by George Orwell, in his 1946 essay “Politics and the English language.” The phrase “political correctness” is a perfect example of a phrase whose cryptic complexity lets it smuggle into one’s speech or writing a formidable freight of covert (and perhaps, sometimes, unintended) meanings that can detract from or even derail the point of a statement in which it’s used, when it’s not being openly used to justify oppression.

Amidst the flame wars, troll rampages, and other hostilities that attend a digital mediascape much more populous and interactive than it was in the mid-1990s, it is a tragedy of English vocabulary and public discourse that one of the main progressive take-away points from the “political correctness” furore – that we be courteous, thoughtful, sensitive, inclusive, and above all respectful in our language – has been lost, body-snatched by a sneaky and vicious code word for the privileged, entitled, and bigoted to claim not only license but even moral high ground for their vituperative sound and fury.


Start calling out the term 'slut-shaming'

Misogyny is misogyny. Use the right words.

Calling it 'slut-shaming' is labeling girls and women you don’t even know as 'sluts' - without their consent (for those who insist they are reclaiming the slur, you do that for yourself, not for others). It reinforces the idea that there is such a thing as a 'slut', defining girls and women who enjoy sex as something negative, and that is unacceptable. In-group, non-pejorative use is one thing -- use it about yourself if you want, use it with your friends if you want, that's entirely up to the women involved... but start calling out this habit of labeling other girls and women as if it's helpful, because it's not.

Call it out in every context. The term only reinforces the idea that calling girls and women 'sluts' is a perfectly acceptable thing to do. I'm sure most who use it mean well and because they do they should be clued in that it's not helpful.

We don’t call anything else '(insert oppressive slur here)-shaming', so just stop. Stop normalizing anti-female slurs.

Stop using slurs to describe women and calling it activist language.

“Men’s rights” groups go mainstream Once seen as a lunatic fringe, reactionary anti-women groups...

“Men’s rights” groups go mainstream

Once seen as a lunatic fringe, reactionary anti-women groups are courting respectability


The more moderate men’s rights movement also features some high-profile “converts.” Joyce introduces us to Glenn Sacks,a popular fathers’ rights radio host and writer who she describes as “a former feminist and abortion-clinic defender.” Dismissive of the Bernard Chapins of the world, he’s working toward the comparatively modest goals of increasing shared custody and lightening divorced dads’ child-support obligations during the recession.

What’s so wrong with those goals, you may well wonder. As Joyce illustrates, the issues MRAs are pushing are much more complex than they seem. For instance, divorcing parents are usually able to work out custody agreements on their own. Only 15 percent of cases go to court, and, of those, half involve domestic abuse. Tragically, even in those instances, mothers don’t always have the upper hand. A common family-court defense of fathers whose children testify that they are abusive is something called “Parental Alienation Syndrome,” “a medically unrecognized diagnosis that suggests mothers have poisoned their children into making false accusations against their fathers.” Joyce tells the story of Genia Shockome, a woman who spent 30 days in jail and whose husband was awarded full custody of their children, despite the fact that his abuse had left her with post-traumatic stress disorder. Incredibly, Shockome’s story doesn’t end there: After criticizing the judge’s decision in print, her attorney was slapped with a five-year suspension.

As for MRAs’ accusations, inspired by deeply flawed studies, that men and women are equally likely to commit domestic abuse, well, the numbers speak for themselves: “While some men certainly are victims of female domestic violence, advocates say the number is closer to 3 percent to 4 percent, rather than the 45 percent to 50 percent RADAR claims.” Toward the end of her piece, Joyce makes a particularly fascinating point about MRAs’ domestic violence arguments:

Critics like Australian sociologist Michael Flood say that men’s rights movements reflect the tactics of domestic abusers themselves, minimizing existing violence, calling it mutual, and discrediting victims. MRA groups downplay national abuse rates, just as abusers downplay their personal battery; they wage campaigns dismissing most allegations as false, as abusers claim partners are lying about being hit; and they depict the violence as mutual—part of an epidemic of wife-on-husband abuse—as individual batterers rationalize their behavior by saying that the violence was reciprocal. Additionally, MRA groups’ predictions of future violence by fed-up men wronged by the family-law system seem an obvious additional correlation, with the threat of violence seemingly intended to intimidate a community, like a fearful spouse, into compliance.



Figured it was a good time for a refresher.

Misogyny, sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. and unconscious internalization.

Most women have internalized misogynist views. Most men do, too. That doesn't mean that they are actively misogynist. It just means they have internalized the messages we receive from all directions over the course of our entire lives.

It is not an accusation. It is not an insult. It is simply an observation. It is a fact.

It is exactly the same with racism, homophobia, transphobia, and every other bias against marginalized groups. We still receive many racist, homophobic, transphobic, etc. messages from all directions and we almost all internalize these to some extent, and if we aren't careful to take time to reflect on our thoughts we most certainly will not rid ourselves of these unconscious prejudices and biases.

Edited to be more inclusive, and also to explain why I started with misogyny. I'm a hard core feminist. Not as hard core as some, more hard core than most. But I still have to watch myself, because I still have those remnants of my upbringing lurking in my subconscious. These things will take generations to change. Thinking that any group is past any of this is foolish.

Kiera Wilmot was charged with two felonies, for popping the top off a water bottle.

No one was hurt, no damage was caused. Does anyone know anyone who did more damage in science class and was not charged? I sure as hell do. One guy I know blew up the science lab at his high school, injured a classmate too. Were there any charges? No, of course not.

It really bothers me that kids who accidentally kill their siblings get no charges filed, but this harmless incident resulted in this girl being charged with two felonies. I agree that it was an accident and the decision not to file charges was correct, but why the charges for Kiera?

It bothers me even more that teenage boys guilty of gang rape get juvie, and this girl gets charged as an adult.

I hope they drop the charges against her. At least scientists are backing her up.

Victim-blaming and woman-shaming claim another victim

No, I won't say s***-shaming. Bcause there's no such thing as a s***.

This rape culture, where women are shamed for behavior that in men is met with a wink and a nod and even respect, has claimed another life. Please don't try to tell me that terms like 'playa' or 'man-whore' carry the same scorn in the same way that the words targeting women do. Just the fact that its necessary to put the word 'man' in front of 'whore' to use it about a man tells you all you need to know.

Blaming and shaming women costs lives. Girls and women need to know that they can come forward. That they won't be blamed, or shamed. They need to know someone will listen, and believe them.

Rape Culture Claims Another Victim: Teen Ends Life After Photo Of Her Alleged Gang Rape Goes Viral

Seventeen-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons’ suicide was the harrowing end to a story involving not only sexual assault, but also the issues of harassment and victim-blaming that are problematic symptoms of rape culture. According to her mother Leah Parsons’ post on her Facebook, Rehtaeh was subject to significant bullying from her peers, who labeled her as a “slut”:

“The (p)erson Rehtaeh once was all changed one dreaded night in November 2011. She went with a friend to another’s home. In that home she was raped by four young boys…one of those boys took a photo of her being raped and decided it would be fun to distribute the photo to everyone in Rehtaeh’s school and community where it quickly went viral. Because the boys already had a “slut” story, the victim of the rape Rehtaeh was considered a SLUT.”

But there were other issues with the investigation as well, Parsons told the Halifax Chronicle Herald: “[t]hey didn’t even interview the boys until much, much later” and “nothing was done about [the photos] because they couldn’t prove who had pressed the photo button on the phone.” She was told that even the distribution of the photos was “not really a criminal issue,” despite the fact that Rehtaeh was 15 at the time, meaning the photos constituted child pornography.

While the investigation was ongoing, Rehtaeh struggled with anger and depression leading to her hospitalization on one occasion. She also moved to a different city to avoid harassment of her peers, including a barrage of texts asking “Will you have sex with me?” and telling her “You’re such a slut.” The Steubenville victim similarly faced harassing text messages after her identity was revealed by news coverage, including threats resulting in charges against two teens.


Link with more information, and a petition demanding an inquiry into the way this case was handled.
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