6) everything is rape culture except porn and sex work, even though most women in those fields are repeatedly raped. “baby it’s cold outside” and “blurred lines” are rape culture but rape porn is empowering.
Men do not believe that rape or battery are violations of female will in part because men of influence have consumed pornography in the private world of men for centuries. Men of sensibility and intelligence and cultural achievement have always incorporated its values into their mainstream cultural work in art, religion, law, literature, philosophy, and now psychology, films, and so forth. In many cases, these otherwise thoughtful men have been educated about women and sex through pornography, which they see as hidden, forbidden sexual truth. The most enduring sexual truth in pornography—widely articulated by men to the utter bewilderment of women throughout the ages—is that sexual violence is desired by the normal female, needed by her, suggested or demanded by her. She—perpetually coy or repressed— denies the truth that pornography reveals. It is either/or. Either the truth is in the pornography or she tells the truth. But men are the tellers of truth and men are the creators of and believers in pornography. She is silenced altogether—she is not a voice in the cultural dialogue, except as an annoying or exceptional whisper—and when she speaks, she lies. She hides and denies what pornography reveals and affirms: that she wants it, they all do. He has the power of naming and in pornography he uses it to name her slut: a lewd, dissolute, brazen thing, a whore always soliciting—begging or demanding to be used for what she is. Women, for centuries not having access to pornography and now unable to bear looking at the muck on the supermarket shelves, are astonished. Women do not believe that men believe what pornography says about women. But they do. From the worst to the best of them, they do.
Andrea Dworkin, Pornography: Men Possessing Women
Male perceptions of women are askew, wild, inept. Male renderings of women in art, literature, psychology, religious discourses, philosophy, and in the common wisdom of the day, whatever the day, are bizarre, distorted, fragmented at best, demented in the main.
Andrea Dworkin, Pornography: Men Possessing Women
I think it is most appropriate to make the first post of 2017 a call for female, feminist solidarity, please read Sarah Ditum’s article in full here.
There are females, of course […], but “female” is not counted as a gender identity. Female is written out. Inside the magazine, you’ll find features which reveal that, actually, femaleness is a highly pertinent characteristic: you can read about the poverty and violence inflicted on girls in developing nations, the pressures of bullying and body-shaming on girls in America, and how the two-tiered market in children’s toys might be harming girls through pinkification. Being female is a matter of life and death, but, per the cover, “female” is not a label under which people may gather.
Here I suppose I should concede National Geographic’s good intentions. National Geographic did not, I assume, deliberately set out to produce an issue showing that female people are exploited and abused for being female, while also announcing that “female” does not exist. Nor is National Geographic doing anything particularly new or shocking by deleting women as a class: reproductive rights organisations now talk about “pregnant people” rather than women in order to be “inclusive”, and even references to vaginas can be damned as transphobic. But if it the express motivation of this cover had been to tauntingly depoliticise everything the inside pages have to tell about the place of women and girls in the world, the patriarchy would give it a 10/10 for threat neutralisation.
In the circumstances, wanting out of the class “woman” is eminently rational. And being a woman is only going to get rougher in Trump’s America. Michelle Goldberg is correct in her bleak, eloquent Slate column when she writes that Trump’s presidency means the backlash is on. Abortion rights, protections against sexual discrimination, action against sexual violence – these things will be the first to go. Even if you don’t “feel female”, you will be exposed by being female. A label is no defense against male violence. You can disown your body, but your body is too valuable a commodity to be left alone. It can make babies. It can make dinners, mop floors. It can make a man orgasm. You are a resource to be colonised, and simply stating that you are not one by refusing the title “woman” will never function as a “keep out” sign.
To survive, to resist, we need to organise. To organise, we need to acknowledge what we hold in common. Throughout feminism’s waves and wanings, that’s been the basis of every success: identifying the oppressions imposed on us as women, and working together as women against them. Our female bodies are the battleground, and we can’t escape that even if we deny it by claiming some variant identity such as “non-binary” or “bi-gender”. We need a women’s movement. Even those of us who think we don’t need it, will need it. And for that, we need to call ourselves – our female selves – women, without compromise or qualification.
No one knows exactly how many children have been sexually exploited in America’s gyms over the past 20 years. But an IndyStar-USA TODAY Network review of hundreds of police files and court cases across the country provides for the first time a measure of just how pervasive the problem is.
At least 368 gymnasts have alleged some form of sexual abuse at the hands of their coaches, gym owners and other adults working in gymnastics. That’s a rate of one every 20 days. And it’s likely an undercount.
IndyStar previously reported that top officials at USA Gymnastics, one of the nation’s most prominent Olympic organizations, failed to alert police to many allegations of sexual abuse that occurred on their watch and stashed complaints in files that have been kept secret. But the problem is far worse. A nine-month investigation found that predatory coaches were allowed to move from gym to gym, undetected by a lax system of oversight, or dangerously passed on by USA Gymnastics-certified gyms.
USA Gymnastics calls itself a leader in child safety. In a statement responding to IndyStar’s questions, it said: “Nothing is more important to USA Gymnastics, the Board of Directors and CEO Steve Penny than protecting athletes, which requires sustained vigilance by everyone — coaches, athletes, parents, administrators and officials. We are saddened when any athlete has been harmed in the course of his or her gymnastics career.”
The organization noted several initiatives aimed at creating a safer environment, including the use of criminal background checks for coaches, the practice of publishing the names of coaches banned from its competitions, and programs that provide educational materials to member gyms.
But IndyStar’s investigation found:
• USA Gymnastics focuses its efforts to stop sexual abuse on educating members instead of setting strict ground rules and enforcing them. It says it can’t take aggressive action because member gyms are independent businesses and because of restrictions in federal law pertaining to Olympic organizations. Both are contentions others dispute.
• Gym owners have a conflict of interest when it comes to reporting abuse. Some fear harm to their business. When confronted with evidence of abuse, many quietly have fired the suspected abusers and failed to warn future employers. Some of those dangerous coaches continued to work with children.
• Some coaches are fired at gym after gym without being tracked or flagged by USA Gymnastics, or losing their membership with the organization. USA Gymnastics often has no idea when a coach is fired by a gym and no systematic way to keep track. Ray Adams was fired or forced to resign from six gyms in four states. Yet some gym owners hired Adams, believing his record was clean.
• Though the vast majority of officials put children’s well-being ahead of business and competition, some officials at every level have not. Coaches suspected of abuse kept their jobs as long as they accepted special monitoring. Others were allowed to finish their season before being fired. In 2009, Doug Boger was named a USA Gymnastics Coach of the Year and was sent to international competition while under investigation for alleged sexual abuse.
• Victims’ stories have been treated with skepticism by USA Gymnastics officials, gym owners, coaches and parents. Former gymnasts Charmaine Carnes and Jennifer Sey said they felt pressured by Penny not to pursue allegations of abuse by prominent coaches Don Peters and Boger. Carnes said she thought Penny tried to keep the claims about Boger quiet for as long as possible to protect the sport’s image and win championships, a characterization that USA Gymnastics disputes.
In its statement to IndyStar, USA Gymnastics said it is constantly striving to improve.
In the wake of IndyStar’s August investigation, USA Gymnastics hired a former prosecutor to evaluate its bylaws and offer advice on how to strengthen its policies. It also established a policy review panel on its board of directors.
“USA Gymnastics is proud of the work it has done to address and guard against child sexual abuse,” the organization said in materials provided to IndyStar.
USA Gymnastics also said it’s playing a central role in developing a U.S. Center for SafeSport to oversee education programs and investigate and adjudicate claims of sexual misconduct for all U.S. Olympic Committee governing bodies.
USA Gymnastics has touted its many successes, including years of expansion and recent domination by Team USA at the Olympics. But administrators in the Indianapolis-based organization have declined numerous interview requests from IndyStar.
Penny, who has been president since 2005, declined to be interviewed for this and other stories. Neither the chairman of USA Gymnastics’ board, Paul Parilla, nor board members responded to interview requests.
During IndyStar’s investigation, USA Gymnastics agreed to one interview with its lawyer and public relations chief. Otherwise, officials have accepted only written questions and responded with often incomplete written replies. Many questions have gone unanswered.
USA Gymnastics and Penny have taken other steps to keep details of abuse cases secret. The organization as well as individual member gyms have entered confidentiality agreements as part of settlements in negligence cases with gymnasts claiming abuse.
And in court, USA Gymnastics has fought the release of documents that would show how Penny and other top officials have dealt with molestation allegations.
IndyStar went to court in Georgia and won a case in August to unseal depositions and sexual misconduct complaint files on 54 coaches. The Georgia Supreme Court confirmed that ruling in October and ordered the documents to be made public. But USA Gymnastics is continuing to fight, delaying the release.
Many who want reforms in Olympic sports said they are frustrated by the lack of meaningful action.
QotD: “it terrifies me that so many young people are being told that violence & hierarchy are necessary for passion & intimacy”
it terrifies me that so many young people are being told that violence & hierarchy are necessary for passion & intimacy, and that “aftercare” will fulfil their need for comfort & security. sex can do that!! sex doesn’t have to terrorize you so that aftercare can comfort you. sexual intimacy can (should) be an enjoyable experience, not The Gauntlet you have to run before cuddling
it’s monstrous to try to convince young girls that
1. sex is something you have to endure in order to be rewarded with comfort & support
2. replicating abuse during sex makes sex better, ““deeper”“, & more romantic
The EVA Center is a survivor led, social justice oriented program whose mission is to empower women who have experienced sexual exploitation, (prostitution, sex trafficking), to find solutions to the issues they face and exit the commercial sex industry. We also work to challenge public perceptions and strongly advocate for specialized, survivor led, strength based programming that increases awareness of the many socio-economic and situational factors contributing to women’s and girls entry into the sex trade.
The EVA Center’s mission is to provide comprehensive exit services for women who are experiencing commercial sexual exploitation, (prostitution/trafficking).
We are committed to ending commercial sexual exploitation by changing women’s lives, addressing the social and economic conditions that enable the sex trade to thrive. We advocate for what is called the Nordic Model, calling for the complete decriminalization of those exploited in prostitution and criminalizing the buying which fuels the demand.
The EVA Center, formerly Kims Project, has almost ten years of direct service experience. Founded in 2006 by Cherie Jimenez, a survivor of the sex trade, this project was created in response to the overwhelming need to assist women in the often complex process of exiting out of commercial sexual exploitation. It started as Kims Project, a project created and implemented by and for women that had direct experience in the sex trade, understanding the importance of peer support. It was created through Finex House, a domestic violence shelter. Since 2006 we have provided comrehensive services and long term support for hundreds of women while simultanously working to create needed emergency and long term housing options, providing awareness-raising campaigns to educate the public about the violence associated with the sex trafficking and the role of the demand in driving this trade. In 2012, we incorporated as The Josephine Butler EVA Center to fullfill the need to create a more sustainable emergency and long term housing program for the number of women wanting out of this harmful industry. The EVA Center, standing for Education, Vision and Advocacy, better represented what we do, acknowledging this program as a center, a compassionate and caring space for women.
After almost ten years we are currently in the process of collaborating with new partners to create a sustainable and needed emergency housing program and increase our staff.
We assist women in creating their own exit plans, providing information and resources to the appropriate services, acknowledging that each woman has her own experiences, needs and cultural beliefs that can vary tremendously. This might include immediate access to safety since many prostituted and trafficked women find themselves caught in relational violence. For many women the Center represents the beginniing of a new kind of connection and sense of community.
We offer financial assistance as well as long term consistent support in accessing health services, safe permanent housing, educational and employment opportunities; recognizing that education is a key component to economic security. The lack of meaningful employment that provides a living wage is a huge obstacle facing young women struggling to support themselves.
We partner with a number of community organizations to help women develop their own educational plans, getting reconnected back into school and work, GED, ESOL, life, job skills, and/or work readiness programs.
The Center is a caring space for women, all services are free and all women are welcome. The door to resources is always open; there is no cut off of support.
We provide court advocacy, support for women arrested on prostitution related charges, working with Boston area district courts. Our goal is to offer women who have been arrested on prostitution related offenses an opportunity to access services in lieu of jail time. We also offer pre-court diversion which enables law enforcement to intervene, breaking the cycle of court involvement, diverting them to community based programs.
The EVA Center provides a free legal clinic to assist women in navigating the court system. This clinic is a unique partnership with the Boston University School of Law and the EVA Center. Clinic students provide a variety of legal services – including direct representation of non citizens eligible for T Visas, as well as a variety of other legal services.
Rhode Island chapter of Amnesty International has broken with Amnesty International and Amnesty International USA, on the issue of sex trafficking
Group 49 of Amnesty International paused in its petitioning on behalf of political prisoners to talk about sex trafficking Sunday.
Group 49, the Rhode Island chapter, has broken with its parent organizations, Amnesty International and Amnesty International USA, on the issue of sex trafficking. The parent organizations in 2015 adopted a policy, in the words of Rhode Island coordinator Marcia Lieberman, “to decriminalize all aspects of prostitution.”
As guest speaker Cherie Jimenez put it at a Group 49 gathering Sunday, “If we want equality between men and women, we have to end this” organized prostitution. Although legalization is a fashionable “neo-liberal” approach, prostitution is “not an empowering experience” for girls and women, she said.
“It’s made me a little crazy and a little angry,” she confided to her audience. “Because it’s been around forever is not a basis for its continuance.” Jimenez said she has never met a sex-trade practitioner who wanted to stick with it.
Jimenez, who is in her 50s and used to be a prostitute herself, is founder and director of the EVA Center in Boston – as in Education, Vision and Advocacy – which offers peer counseling, housing and other support for women seeking to leave the commercial sex industry.
She said women who go into prostitution believe they do not have options because, in the United States, they usually are products of a public social-services system that does not do enough for them.
“We have so many flawed … systems,” she said, such as indifferent group homes that take in children from dysfunctional domestic situations but cannot overcome their behavioral problems.
“Why isn’t this a human rights violation?” she demanded to know.
After digressing to discuss sex trafficking, the 29th annual Write-a-thon resumed in the parish house of the First Unitarian Church on College Hill, with about 35 volunteers sitting at long tables hand-writing letters on behalf of at least 10 selected prisoners of conscience around the world. The letters were deposited in a glass container, to display the writers’ progress.
As usual, participants lit a large candle draped in barbed wire – the symbolic “candle of hope.”
Regarding sex trafficking, Group 49 officer Merritt Meyer, of Bristol, said decriminalization increases trafficking because it increases the market.
“It’s not just a job,” Lieberman protested.
She said various members of the group have communicated their disagreement to the parent organizations.
A second speaker, Providence police Capt. Michael E. Correia, commanding officer of the detective bureau, summarized how his department underwent a pronounced change and now goes after prostitution by treating prostitutes as victims rather than perpetrators of crime.
“The victim isn’t just someone who signs a witness statement,” Correia said, but is someone deserving of help. The police do not handcuff suspected prostitutes and they introduce them to advocates like Jimenez, hoping the suspects will cooperate later in prosecutions of their pimps.
As part of the change, the police dropped the use of the word “john” as a euphemism for a prostitute’s customer.
“They’re not johns,” he declared. “That’s an antiseptic name. They’re sex buyers.”
Correia acknowledged that the revised approach is difficult to justify to higher-ups in the department because resources are often used in cases with no accompanying arrests to “clear” the cases statistically.
A number of former footballers have shown such courage over the past weeks by talking about how they were sexually abused as children by their coaches. But the most courageous of all has to be Andy Woodward. His willingness to waive his right to anonymity gave others in football the strength to go public.
It is seeing those big, tough men gasping for breath, in floods of tears, struggling to make sense of their shame that is most shocking. Paul Stewart, David White, Chris Unsworth, Jason Dunford … and on it goes. It turns out that we’re not just talking about one isolated case, one perpetrator. Far from it. Now we know about the Newcastle coach George Ormond, and what he inflicted on Derek Bell and others. And there will be more to come.
Police have said they are now investigating reported attacks on 350 individuals. The Met alone has received 106 allegations. Soon this number will be in its thousands. This is the way with child sex abuse. Once one person is brave enough to come forward, others do too.
It’s a horrific story, brilliantly reported by the Guardian’s Daniel Taylor and others. But it’s also a story that poses many uncomfortable questions about football, masculinity, sexuality, cultural norms, and abuse in the larger sense.
For the world of sport in general, and football in particular, is one that has long been divorced from regular standards of sexual behaviour. Attitudes within football to sex, and sexuality, have been abusive, and primeval, for as long as I can remember – if not in the devastating way we are hearing about now. And the wealthier football has become, the more toxic its attitudes.
Sex has long been a currency in football, and when sex becomes a currency, abuse is never far behind. Many footballers don’t feel they have to play by the same rules as regular civilians because they are loaded and famous, and money and celebrity buys access. So it became the norm to read about rape allegations when football teams were away holidaying together, or even when it was consensual, to hear about players “spit-roasting” – two players or more having sex with one woman.
Last year Leicester City sacked three players who were filmed taking part in an orgy where racist language was used. While Ched Evans was found not guilty of rape in his retrial this October, even he would admit his behaviour was unsavoury (having sex with a woman he had never spoken to). In March this year, former England player Adam Johnson was jailed for six years for sexual activity with a schoolgirl.
The same distorted values that led Johnson to think his behaviour was acceptable (a fair exchange; my celebrity, posh car and money for her underage body) seems to be shared by the coaches who abused child footballers (another fair exchange; the possibility of sporting success for their underage bodies). And like all abusers they have preyed on the most vulnerable – youngsters who admired them, who had everything to lose by reporting it, and who might well not be believed anyway.
Now it has been revealed that Chelsea tried to hush up the fact that their chief scout Eddie Heath was a paedophile who preyed on Gary Johnson by offering their former player £50,000 hush money. Shocking, undoubtedly. But is their conspiracy of silence that much more morally bankrupt than Sunderland allowing Johnson to continue to play for the club – even though he had, in private, admitted to them that he had kissed the child?
Sexual abuse and sexism is rife throughout football – from players to professional observers of the game to the fans. Richard Keys resigned from his role as presenter at Sky in 2011 after the sacking of Andy Gray for being unwittingly caught on camera making lewd comments and gestures to a co-presenter. Keys himself was caught referring to women as “it” – as in asking pundit Jamie Redknapp, in reference to a former girlfriend, whether he’d “smashed it” – and suggesting Redknapp would be found “hanging out of the back of it”. Vile.
The bone-headed machismo of sport soon descends into abuse on the terraces. Arsène Wenger was labelled “a paedophile” by rival fans because he was urbane and French, back when that was unusual in English football. After Sol Campbell moved from Spurs to Arsenal, Spurs fans sang, “He’s big / He’s black / He takes it up the crack / Sol Campbell, Sol Campbell” and, worse, to the tune of Lord of the Dance, “Sol, Sol, wherever you may be / You’re on the verge of lunacy / And we don’t give a fuck if you’re hanging from a tree / You Judas cunt with HIV.”
Campbell was wrongly rumoured to be gay. And that, of course, is still the great taboo in British football. And British sport in general. Last week, the words of former darts player Eric Bristow, for which he has since apologised, made that abundantly clear when he tweeted: “Might be a looney but if some football coach was touching me when I was a kid as I got older I would have went back and sorted that poof out.”
There is still no bigger insult in football than calling somebody a poof. There is not one “out” gay footballer in the Premier League. It is still a shameful fact that the only top English footballer who came out was Justin Fashanu, in 1990. After that, he never played top-flight football again, and in 1998 he killed himself.
It is to be hoped that the spate of revelations about child sex abuse in football will make everybody in the game sensitive to all forms of sexual abuse within football – from the predatory coaches to the predatory players, to the fans who hurl homophobic slurs at players, to the clubs who pay out money to silence the victims of abuse.
If there is one thing to learn from this scandal it is that sexual abuse is endemic in football (as it is in society). And it must be rooted out in all its forms.
A telephone hotline dedicated to dealing with abuse within football has received more than 1,700 calls since it was set up three weeks ago, a children’s charity has said.
According to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), which is running the service, more than 900 calls came in the past fortnight – showing a dip on average from the number received in the first week.
Three-quarters of those calls which resulted in a referral to police or another agency came from victims of abuse themselves, the NSPCC said.
“It’s clear that for far too long, hundreds of people who suffered abuse as youngsters in the game have not been able to speak up but it is encouraging that so many are finally finding their voice in a climate today where they know they will be listened to and supported,” said the NSPCC’s chief executive Peter Wanless.
“What’s important now is that those victims get that much-needed support and that perpetrators are identified and brought to justice by police. Anyone can contact our hotline in confidence and we will get them the help they need.”
The hotline, which is being funded by the Football Association, was set up on 23 November as the scandal began to engulf football. It has since been claimed that 98 clubs have been named to the charity.
The NSPCC said it received 50 contacts from members of the public within two hours of opening the hotline and 860 calls in the first week. It added that 94% of its referrals were to the police, though it stressed that the number of calls does not reflect the number of victims, since multiple calls can come from one individual and not all calls result in further action.
The reality of the sexual revolution, as we now know, was often an abuse of power that left women reeling, not quite sure what happened or who was to blame. Confusion and humiliation was far too often the price you paid to be sexually liberated. In the context of the well documented abuse of young women by great directors from Alfred Hitchcock to Stanley Kubrick, we can see why Schneider’s plight was simply ignored, even though it devastated her.
When she spoke about it, nothing happened. Brando and Bertolucci are still considered untouchable artists.
But it can never be forgotten. Bertolucci sought to film the actual – not acted – pain of a 19-year-old woman. He did that. It was called art. It still is. He got away with it. This is truly disgusting. In his world, men act, women merely feel. “I wanted her reaction as a girl, not an actress,” said Bertolucci.
In the 1970s, consent was not a word or a concept I was aware of. But I fully understood violation when I saw it.