Tag Archives: sexual assault

I’ve got a bone to pick with Avril Lavigne

4 Aug

Yeah, as an advocate for victims of sexual assault I have to say something about this. I just do. It’s Avril’s song Smile that’s in question. The lyric I’m about to address really upsets me. I will admit, however,  that against my better judgment and music taste, I listen to this song and all her others with a kind of paralyzed enjoyment. How awful are Girlfriend and Hot? Pretty bad, but they’re on my running mix. Moving on.

This is the lyric that I wish she would have thought more about before singing it into America’s eardrums:

Last night I blacked out, I think
What did you, what did you put in my drink
I remember making out and then, oh oh
 

The next line in the song explains what happened while she was blacked out: his-and-hers tattoos. But taking the previous lines by themselves, there is a strong suggestion that somebody got her drunk and/or influenced by a drug so that she wouldn’t be conscious for what came next.


The fact is, alcohol is the number one date rape drug, and alcohol facilitated sexual assaults are common. Sometimes a person chooses to drink, and sometimes he/she is manipulated into inebriation. What some may try and pass off as “drunk sex” is actually sexual assault, because in some states (like mine), an intoxicated person cannot consent to sexual activity. Intoxication muddles consent, which is often communicated nonverbally.

And that’s what I have to say.


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Social Injustice News Summary (SINS): June 13-17

17 Jun

Texas: In Houston this week, the publicized rape of Jamie Leigh Jones finally goes to trial six years after her victimization. Jones says that in 2005, working in Iraq at 20 years old, she was gang raped by several male KBR/Halliburton employees. She had been socializing with the men one evening, and after she accepted a drink from one of them became unconscious until after the attack. Based on her account, her victimization did not end with the violent rapes that night. She was confined without food, water, or communication for 1-2 days under armed guard. Then, the forensic medical exam performed on Jones by a U.S. Army physician was given to KBR.  This latter action was a violation and conflict of interest in the chain of evidence of the case.

Art: Jamie Leigh Jones

This case is about the crime of sexual assault. Let us remember, then, that sexual assault is not the fault of the victim. Whether or not a victim is drunk, sober, high, flirtatious, attractive or plain, it is the perpetrator who decided to rape. Also, let us remember that it it is rare for someone to fabricate a sexual assault.

For six years Jones has been hushed and disbelieved by KBR, who insists its innocence. But now Jamie Leigh Jones has a foundation, is married and teaches, and has her day in court. I can’t imagine that this trial will be clean or easy for her, but let’s hope that justice prevails.

India: Although not written this week, I wanted to talk about a Washington Post op-ed about sex-selective abortion in India. The author is Aseem Shukla, co-founder of the Hindu American Foundation and an Associate Professor of Urologic Surgery and Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota. He’s talking about the cultural, societal, and political reasons and consequences for the boy-baby preference that some Indian families hold.

North Carolina/U.S./World: This week the BBC has reported on current compensation efforts by the North Carolina state government to help ease the trauma of the many living victims of forced sterilization. Though the primarily mental-health, sexual orientation and race-determined eugenics programs happened in decades past and ended in 1979, these people have not received acknowledgment of their suffering.

April: For abused children and survivors of sexual assault

31 Mar

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. It is also Child Abuse Prevention Month. These are two huge, serious problems to recognize in 30 days! Let’s look at some stats.

Child abuse:

Almost five children die every day as a result of child abuse. Most are under the age of 4.

90% of child sexual abuse victims know the perpetrator; 68% are abused by family members

Abused children are 25% more likely to experience teen pregnancy

Neglect comprises 60% of child abuse; 11% is physical.

Here’s more info.

Sexual assault:

Roughly 75% of sexual assault victims know their perpetrator

1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime

Sexual assault takes many forms—it is any unwanted sexual contact, including rape or attempted rape

1 in 33 men will be sexually assaulted in his lifetime

Sexual assault is hugely under-reported; it is also seldom falsely reported – 60% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police

Only about 6% of rapists ever spend a day in jail

Here’s more info

 

“What was she wearing?”

6 Jan

What was she wearing? Was she drunk? Was she with friends? What time was it? Was she dancing? Was she flirting?

These are questions some people might think or say aloud when they hear a woman* was sexually assaulted or raped. There is name for them: victim blaming.

Victim blaming statements may have harmless intent behind them, but they put undue and unfair responsibility on the victim rather than the perpatrator. The fact is that a woman should be allowed to dress, dance, talk to, and go wherever she wants. True that drinking around strangers and wearing revealing outfits could elicit unwanted attention, but such choices are NOT invitations for sexual abuse.

This is why victim blaming statements divert attention from the true source of the problem: the man who consciously decides to forcibly, sometimes violently, rape.

The other fact to keep in mind here is that victim blaming statements don’t even apply in the majority of sexual assaults and rapes. This is because most of these crimes occur among friends, acquaintances, and romantic parters. Asking about a woman’s sobreity or behavior around her friend, boyfriend, or husband at the time of the assault is irrelevant. There is no excuse.

It’s not your fault.

National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1.800.656.HOPE

Resources by state

*Men get raped by women, too. Here I’m specifically addressing victim blaming statements that are mostly only relevant to female survivors.