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Archive for the ‘Police’ Category

News: U.S. Military Part of Rape Culture, Too

Rape culture is perpetuated by a vicious cycle. Institutional power (the police, the courts, the prisons, the politicians, etc.) does not take rape seriously and actively discourages any attempt to change that fact; everyday people, taking their cue from these institutions (and assuming, as they have been taught via compulsory “education”, that the institutions would care if it were such a big deal), enforce the same dynamics on the ground level; those everyday people then enter those institutions and proceed to do exactly the same thing. This is one reason, among many, that I am an abolitionist, not a reformist—because those institutions of power pose too great of a threat to freedom of thought and life.

But I’m going off topic. This post isn’t about that. It’s about the fact that the U.S. military also follows rape culture: they would rather sweep rape under the rug than actually punish rapists. As the articles say, more than a dozen female and at least one male current or ex-military are suing prominent Pentagon officials to try to force the hand of the military into actually doing something. Which, in case you haven’t caught on to that by now, they haven’t been: survivors have mostly been told to shut up and serve regardless—even then their attacker is in the same unit. Systematic oppression is the only kind of oppression.

Part of it is just that it is even more bizarrely taboo to socially reject or shun someone for being a rapist than it is for any other reason. Another part is that rape culture as a whole continuously trivializes the experiences of rape victims—they’re whiners, drama queens, etc. because rape is not supposed to be that bad. Rape culture does its damnedest to persuade everyone to look at rape from the POV of the rapist—the rapist is sympathetic, the rapist is calm, the rapist is objective. The victim is irrational, overemotional, out-of-control, attention-seeking, manipulative (count which other oppressed peoples those apply to as well—I can name a few). That’s the cultural narrative.

It happens everywhere, whether you’re male or female, young or old, on the brown side or on the white side, rich or poor. Rape victims are overwhelmingly more likely to be female—the notoriously conservative RAINN estimates that 1 in 6 women will be raped in their lifetimes, whereas the corresponding statistic for men is 1 in 33. This doesn’t make rape and sexual assault less important when it happens to men—it is unacceptable, anywhere, at any time—but it does provide perspective on why rape and sexual victimization are coded as feminine.

Here are some other articles: Scott Howard, an openly gay man, went to prison for moneymaking schemes and was repeatedly raped and extorted by 211 Crew—a well-known white supremecist group, then punished by prison officials when he reported it.

In 2010, a report was issued that stated about 12% of youth in juvenile detention in the U.S. reported having been sexually abused in the last year. Unlike in adult prisons, however, the ratio of abuse by inmate:staff was reversed—the majority of sexual abuse was perpetrated by staff. Indiana got called out by Federal authorities soon after because the conditions shocked even the investigators—and do you know how hard it is to get people who think prison is a good idea to admit something’s crossed the line?

At the G20 summit in Toronto last year, police repeatedly threatened to rape protesters in their custody, and they actually did sexually assault several.

Rape isn’t invisible: it’s just bled out and pale, less threatening. One of the reasons that transparency is fought so vehemently by these institutions of power—corporations, government and even colleges and universities—is that transparency shows that these problems are big, that they are endemic and of mind-boggling proportions. The idea that real rape rarely happens is part of rape culture’s trivialization of rape—because, abstracted into isolated instances, the implicit suggestion becomes unavoidable: go work on real issues.

Breaking News: Cop Sexually Assaults Woman, Media Calls it “Sex”

A British cop has been jailed for sexually assaulting a woman while on duty. Then he did it again once he was off-duty, just for good measure.

Which is more than U.S. cops get—I imagine that when some guy in the DPD does this, they throw him a congratulations party—but nevertheless, the case is still being referred to as “sex on duty.”

As far as I’ve been able to parse out, he went to this woman’s address on behalf of a “concern for welfare” call. The articles basically say jack shit about her at all. Fortunately, via Copwatch, I found that the “concern for welfare” call involved the woman being at risk of suicide. He went to “make sure she was safe” and ended up sexually assaulting her. I specifically say “sexually assault” because, repeatedly, the articles say he abused his position. That seems pretty clear-cut to me.

As you may have surmised, I have a serious problem with the way this is being reported, or I’d just have left it at “rar cops rar.”

1. Even though the freaking other cops said it was an “abuse of his position” and that he “took advantage of the situation,” it’s still being reported as sex, because the media has an anaphylactic allergy to rape, apparently.

Seriously?

If he took advantage and abused his power, then there was someone on the receiving end of it. But we never hear about her, ever—they throw around words like it was never done to anyone. Did he sexually assault someone, or did he masturbate? The utter lack of any mention of the victim strongly suggests that people basically think it’s more of the latter than it is the former.

Basically, the only way you could ever possibly see this as “sex” is if she “seduced” him. But dude, this is like, rule number one—unless you’re already in a relationship, boinking after someone tells you they want to kill themselves is a horrible fucking idea, right up there with “fucking the bereaved,” and consent is definitely up in the air. But more than the tastelessness of screwing around on the job, even if she did “seduce” him, is…

2. Why would having sex with her be this enormously horrible thing if it wasn’t sexual assault?

You get fired for having sex on the job. You get jailed for sexually assaulting someone on the job, especially when it has been made abundantly clear that the person you’re “having sex with” is not within four miles of their right mind, let alone capable of consent. Suicide distress calls—even “cries for help”—are made by people who are having serious emotional problems and do not feel that they are capable of making the right decision.

Also, I’m considering whether she started to go through with it and I’m getting seriously squicked out by the idea.

3. How unstable does a woman have to be before she’s considered to be nonconsenting?

Do you have to be drooling and catatonic or something? Because in the line of “gestures I am going to take as meaningful consent,” having someone threatening to slit their wrists and then wanting me to, uh, have sex with them is not exactly a top priority. Hell, it’s barely coherent.

4. Throughout all of this, the woman—hello, victim here, people—is rendered completely invisible. She was “had sex with,” although it’s abundantly clear that she was sexually assaulted. No mention of whether she’s okay. I’m assuming she was still alive when he came back off-duty. I don’t expect her name for obvious reasons, but I do expect a little goddamn concern for someone who is, for all intents and purposes, the victim.

Because when Michael Fletcher “abused his position and took advantage of the situation,” he wasn’t just doing it to the air.

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