Monday, March 30, 2015
“You hold women in contempt”: Frat culture isn’t an aberration, it’s everything men learn about being a “real man”
...thus reads the headline from Salon:
There are a lot of stories out there right now about frat culture, which is maybe why I find myself circling back to bigger questions about masculinity. Or at least the version of masculinity on display in some of these fraternities.
Read the rest here.
The political arm of the national fraternity system—known as the Fraternity & Sorority Political Action Committee (FratPAC)—is getting involved in the campus rape debate. Sadly, it seems it wants to make it as hard as possible for schools to discipline students who sexually abuse or harass each other. Bloomberg reports:
The groups' political arm plans to bring scores of students to Capitol Hill on April 29 to lobby for a requirement that the criminal justice system resolve cases before universities look into them or hand down punishments, according to an agenda reviewed by Bloomberg News.
"If people commit criminal acts, they should be prosecuted and they should go to jail,” said Michael Greenberg, leader of 241-chapter Sigma Chi, one of many fraternities participating in the legislative push.
The sentiment may sound fair-minded; it's anything but. FratPAC is singling out sexual assault as the only crime it wants universities to handle in this way. Underage drinking, drug dealing, burglary, assault—all of these actions break both school rules and the law, but FratPAC is not asking universities to wait for the criminal courts to adjudicate these crimes before punishing the students for breaking their corresponding school rules. In the situation it's proposing, a school could punish a student for stealing from another student without waiting for the courts to adjudicate the matter; but if a student rapes another student, the school couldn't act.
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
The sometimes ironically named "social" media brims with sexual harassment and shocking threats against women. Twitter, for one, seems to be aware of this but doesn't quite know what to do about it. From a story in the Guardian UK from February:
Twitter’s chief executive has acknowledged that the company “sucks at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform, and we’ve sucked at it for years”, in a leaked memo.
Dick Costolo’s statement was posted on Twitter’s internal forums, in response to an employee who had highlighted an article in the Guardian by columnist Lindy West about her experience with trolls on social media.
In the memo, obtained on Thursday by The Verge , Costolo writes: “I’m frankly ashamed of how poorly we’ve dealt with this issue during my tenure as CEO. It’s absurd. There’s no excuse for it. I take full responsibility for not being more aggressive on this front. It’s nobody else’s fault but mine, and it’s embarrassing.”
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
- Confronting the Gendered State: A Feminist Response to Gender Inequality and Gender Violence In the United States and the Irish Republic, 15 Wisc. J. Law, Gender & Society____ (forthcoming 2015).
- An American in St. Patrick’s Court: Gender-Violence, Gender Inequality and the Irish Feminist Response, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: A COMPARATIVE APPROACH (Oxford Univ. Press 2015).
Monday, March 9, 2015
As March 8 falls on what is rumoured to be the eve of the first round of negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban, Afghan women's rights activists were anxiously anticipating unadulterated assurances from Ghani to the effect that women's achievements will not be compromised in an eventual peace deal. Afghan women demand greater say in politics Though Ghani never directly mentioned the talks, Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah's message read in his absence clearly stated that the government will present a red line on women's rights and will not compromise Afghan women's achievements in exchange for a peace deal.
Some women's rights groups, including the Afghan Women's Charter, have requested that at least one woman be included in the government's team of negotiators. They have further demanded that belief in women's rights be part of the criteria for selecting male negotiators.
Women's angst stems from a quivering political will that the Afghan political leadership has demonstrated in the past decade on the issue of women's rights and status in this male-dominated society. Afghan women, as determined and talented as they are, could not have achieved their gains of the last decade had it not been for the international community's presence and pressure on Afghan political leaders.
Saturday, March 7, 2015
A University of San Diego law student has filed a lawsuit against the school, claiming college officials discouraged her from reporting an alleged rape by two fellow students.
The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights is investigating how the college handled reports of the same incident.
The lawsuit, filed Feb. 13, says the 29-year-old woman was raped by two men in the bathroom at an off-campus party in May 2013. The woman told NBC 7 she did not immediately report the incident to police because she was afraid.
"It's horrifying and stigmatizing. I didn't want to be that girl that got raped. Nobody does," she said.
But when she discovered one of her alleged attackers was in her evidence class the next fall semester, she informed her professor.
Thursday, March 5, 2015
You can come, but you can't leave.
A unanimous jury found Korean immigrant detainee and domestic violence survivor Nan-Hui Jo guilty Tuesday of child abduction charges filed by her child’s father and alleged abuser, Jesse Charlton. Now, Nan-Hui is also facing deportation and permanent separation from her child immediately after the hearing.
Nan-Hui Jo fled the U.S. to South Korea in 2009 with her then one-year-old daughter Vitz Da (known as Hwi) to escape abuse by Vitz Da’s American father Charlton, an unstable Iraq war veteran diagnosed with PTSD. For years, Nan-Hui raised her daughter in Korea during which time Charlton, unbeknownst to Nan-Hui, filed child abduction charges against her. When Nan-Hui traveled to Hawaii last summer to consider schools for the American-born Hwi and perhaps re-connect her daughter with Charlton if it was safe, she was immediately arrested and sent to jail.
On Friday, a federal court temporarily halted the Obama administration’s policy of detaining migrant mothers with children seeking asylum in the United States.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit in December alleging that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) locked up women with children who were seeking asylum under their new “no release” policy, often inprison-like conditions for months at a time. The policy was adopted as part of the Obama administration’s “aggressive deterrence strategy” in response to the influx of Latin American migrants who crossed the southern border last year, as a way to deter future migrants from making the trek. The ACLU stated that in years past, detainees who were able to express “credible fear” that they would be persecuted in their homelands were released on bond or on their own recognizance.
Monday, March 2, 2015
Sara Bahayi is Afghanistan’s first female taxi driver in recent memory, and she is believed to be the only one actively working in the country. She’s 38, unmarried and outspoken. And in a highly patriarchal society, where women are considered second-class citizens and often abused, Ms Bahayi is brazenly upending gender roles.
Every day, she plies her trade in a business ruled by conservative men. She endures condescending looks, outright jeers, even threats to her life. Most men will not enter her taxi, believing that a woman should never drive for a man.
Yet she earns $10 (£6.50) to $20 a day, enough to provide for her 15 relatives, including her ailing mother. She relies on ferrying women shackled by traditions and fear, who vicariously live their dreams of freedom through her.
Saturday, February 28, 2015
A bipartisan group of 12 U.S. senators introduced legislation on Thursday that is aimed at curbing sexual violence on campuses in ways that protect both victims and accused students. The changes reflect heightened attention over the past six months to the due-process rights of accused students.
The Campus Safety and Accountability Act, sponsored by six Democrats and six Republicans, builds on legislation that was introduced over the summer but never came to a vote. The new version was strengthened with additional input from sexual-assault survivors, students, colleges, law enforcement, and advocacy groups, according to one of its main sponsors, Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat. A companion bill is expected to be introduced soon in the House of Representatives.
The revised proposal comes at a time when the Department of Education is investigating nearly 100 colleges and universities for possible violations of the federal civil-rights law known as Title IX. Colleges have increasingly been held responsible under that law to investigate and resolve alleged assaults promptly and fairly, whether or not the police are involved.
Friday, February 13, 2015
On Thursday a database will be launched online entitled Femicide Census: Profiles of Women Killed by Men. It is a project designed to force a recognition of the scale and significance of male violence against women and is the culmination of several years of work by Ingala Smith, who began a grim and time-consuming task of counting Britain’s murdered women and putting their names on her own blog back in 2012. There were 126 women killed through male violence that year, 143 in 2013 and 150 in 2014.
Scouring news websites and police reports, she pieced together what she says is an important pattern that was not being represented in the way crime and other statistics are collated. It became a personal tribute, too: “It’s really hard sometimes and I admit I’ve had a cry now and again. A photo captures a moment in time that trials don’t. A moment of the person who that woman was. What suffering she endured, and the suffering that continues for their family is so very hard to grasp.”
The database launch, by Ingala Smith – chief executive of London-based domestic violence charity Nia Project – together with Women’s Aid and the legal firm Freshfields, will mean a public tally of the dead is kept in a more formal manner, using police statistics as well as court reports. The site will be used to store as much information as possible on the background and the crime, available for approved subscribers – the first time such details have been held together – to make research and studies easier.
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
All 50 states allow victims of domestic and sexual violence to get protective orders, Angela C. Vigil told the ABA House of Delegates Monday.
But only 19 states allow the orders when the victim and the perpetrator have no established domestic relationship, said Vigil, who is a partner at Baker & McKenzie and the chair of the ABA Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence. Of reported stalkers, she said, 80 to 90 percent are not intimate partners.
Resolution 109A urges governments to remove the partner requirement. It passed unanimously.
Its sister resolution, Resolution 109B, urges governments to address the housing problems often faced by victims of domestic violence. Vigil said the resolution would support extending the Violence Against Women Act’s housing provisions to state law.
“We cannot make [victims] choose between trauma and a roof over their heads,” she said.
Monday, February 9, 2015
One of the better This American Life episodes recently aired. Lindy West is a blogger who had been threatened and degraded on the internet by a vicious troll. That troll would eventually apologize to her.
Her story is recounted in the Guardian UK . Here is some of the beginning of that story:
Being harassed on the internet is such a normal, common part of my life that I’m always surprised when other people find it surprising. You’re telling me you don’t have hundreds of men popping into your cubicle in the accounting department of your mid-sized, regional dry-goods distributor to inform you that – hmm – you’re too fat to rape, but perhaps they’ll saw you up with an electric knife? No? Just me? People who don’t spend much time on the internet are invariably shocked to discover the barbarism – the eager abandonment of the social contract – that so many of us face simply for doing our jobs.
Thursday, February 5, 2015
A Utah lawmaker apologized Wednesday for questioning whether a man who has sex with his unconscious spouse should be charged with rape.
Republican state Rep. Brian Greene said in a statement he supports a bill to make it clear that an unconscious person can't consent to sex but was worried about unintended consequences of the measure.
"I'm sorry for any unintended pain that my statements have caused," he said. "I abhor sexual assault under any circumstances, including within marriage."
On Tuesday, Greene rocked victims' advocates with his discussion of consent during debate on the bill.
"If an individual has sex with their wife while she is unconscious ... a prosecutor could then charge that spouse with rape, theoretically," Greene said, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. "That makes sense in a first-date scenario, but to me, not where people have a history of years of sexual activity."
In his statement, Greene said his comments had been taken out of context and "have allowed my intentions to be misinterpreted."
He said he was attempting to "clarify the issue" of removing consent from Utah rape law. He noted he had voted for the bill as it passed unanimously out of committee.
"I strongly support closing any loopholes that allow offenders to evade prosecution, and I believe this bill does that," Greene said.
Holly Mullen, director of the Rape Recovery Center, told USA TODAY she had not expected a debate.
"I was shocked," Mullen said. "He's a lawyer, you think he would know better. He just went off on a tangent. But with the kind of work we do, we realize that so many people don't understand this issue."
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Danielle Citron’s Hate Crimes in Cyberspace is a breakthrough book. It has been compared, and with good reason, to Catherine MacKinnon’s Sexual Harassment of Working Women. The book makes three major contributions. All are central to furthering the equality of women and men both in cyberspace and elsewhere.
First, Citron convincingly catalogues the range of harms, and their profundity, done to many women and some men by the sexual threats, the defamation, the revenge pornography, the stalking, and the sexual harassment and abuse, all of which is facilitated by the internet. ***
The second contribution, and the bulk of the book—the middle third to half—is a legal analysis of these harms. Citron begins by comparing the current status quo regarding our understanding of gendered harms in cyberspace with the legal environment surrounding domestic violence and sexual harassment thirty or twenty years ago. ***
The third contribution, and last third of the book, is her discussion of possible objections, and then her turn to extra-legal reforms, with a particularly helpful focus on the roles of educators, parents, and the providers themselves (“Silicon Valley” for short).
The Wisconsin Journal of Law, Gender & Society is seeking faculty interested in publishing a piece in its Fall 2015 edition. The Fall 2015 edition will focus on WJLGS' 2015 Symposium topic, "Civil Rights in the Digital Age: Developing Effective Legal Responses to Cyber Sexual Harassment." In the digital age, sexual harassment and assault can be perpetrated on, or compounded by, the Internet. The rise of "revenge porn," and the recent rash of sexual assault cases in which the crime was taped and distributed via the Internet, highlight the need for an effective response to a new form of cyber crime.
Topics could include: cyber civil rights; the nature of the Internet and how online culture contributes to harassment; current responses to the problem; a focus on distribution of images depicting felony crimes, e.g. the Steubenville rape case, the recent "viral rape case," etc.; the recent hacking and the posting of celebrity nudes; efficacy of current legislative solutions; strategies for effective prosecution; strategies for stopping distribution of the image; the limits of consent in a "revenge porn" case; an analysis of the Communications Decency Act and Internet service provider immunity; First Amendment concerns in drafting effective legislation, etc.
Interested faculty should contact WJLGS' Senior Symposium Editor, Amelia Maxfield, at email@example.com by February 15th.
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
But now, the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to decide a case that will determine the future of this key legal protection. Next week, the court will consider whether the Fair Housing Act prohibits policies that have a discriminatory effect, regardless of whether they were adopted with the intent to discriminate, in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc.
Without the ability to bring disparate impact claims, many domestic violence survivors will have no recourse when they face the same double victimization as Ms. Alvera: first abuse, then an eviction notice blaming them for the violence in their homes. Even more disturbingly, landlords usually only become aware of the violence after survivors call for help, and so survivors are forced to choose between seeking safety and keeping their homes.***
Most of the time, landlords that hold victims of abuse responsible for violence perpetrated against them do not say they are making their decisions because they intend to discriminate against women. Yet, as we described in our amicus brief, it is clear that the majority of domestic violence victims are women, and that time and again, the homes and security of female victims of domestic violence are jeopardized because ostensibly neutral housing policies that evict entire households following criminal activity are enforced against them.
Monday, January 19, 2015
Or so argues Phyllis Schlafly in Salon.
Conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly is worried that college campuses are populated by too many women, a phenomenon she insinuated has contributed to increased sexual assault on campus.
In a Monday column for the far-right website World Net Daily, the longtime anti-feminist crusader lamented the declining portion of university enrollments accounted for by men. Schlafly — BA and JD, Washington University in St. Louis; MA, Radcliffe College — argued that it may even be time to implement quotas to ensure that men constitute at least half of a college’s enrollment.
“Long ago when I went to college, campuses were about 70 percent male, and until 1970 it was still nearly 60 percent,” Schlafly wrote. “Today, however, the male percentage has fallen to the low 40s on most campuses.”
Thursday, January 15, 2015
Prosecutors recounted graphic crime details on Tuesday at the opening of a trial of two former Vanderbilt University football players charged with raping a female student at the school in 2013.
The woman was raped and sodomized by Brandon Vandenburg and Cory Batey while unconscious in Vandenburg's dorm room on the morning of June 23, 2013, Deputy District Attorney General Tom Thurman told the jury.
Thurman added that Batey urinated on the victim while using racial slurs and the rape was recorded on a cell phone.
Defense attorneys countered that the two men, who both pleaded not guilty, should not be convicted because Batey was too drunk to make a conscious decision at the time and that Vandenburg did not do anything. ***
Batey's attorney said the football player from Nashville was influenced by a campus culture of sexual freedom, promiscuity and excessive alcohol consumption that contrasted with the manner of his upbringing.***
All four men were kicked off the football team and banned from campus after the charges were leveled.
Monday, January 12, 2015
Thursday, January 8, 2015
With just a few weeks left in her Air Force career, Capt. Maribel Jarzabek decided to vent a little. She posted a few messages on a U.S. senator’s Facebook page, supporting the lawmaker’s push to overhaul the military justice system for sexual-assault cases.
Not long afterward, Jarzabek received an e-mail from a higher-ranking officer, informing her that she was under criminal investigation. The allegations? That she had wrongfully advocated “a partisan political cause” and expressed opinions online that could undermine public confidence in the Air Force.
Jarzabek is a military lawyer assigned as part of a new program to represent victims of sexual assault. Although the Defense Department has promoted the program as a success story and part of a broader campaign to crack down on sex crimes within the armed forces, Jarzabek had grown disillusioned and said she felt the Air Force was papering over deeper problems.