Reddit ignores calls to pull ‘corrective rape’ forum
The Philosophy of Rape
By Mark Potok, Senior Fellow
In an online world that is increasingly fraught with extreme hatred of women, the subreddit named PhilosophyOfRape may actually be the most vile and malicious English-language expression of misogyny on the Internet.
The subreddit, a forum that was created by an anonymous user last Sept. 28, promotes the “corrective” rape of “sluts,” “harlots” and just about any other woman or girl, and promises to help readers get away with it. Its founder reportedly claims to have personally raped seven women, and a visitor to the site recently bemoaned his own arrest and 10-year sentence after following the site’s advice.
“These harpies need to be humbled,” the forum’s creator, who also goes by PhilosophyOfRape, wrote in his opening statement, which he described as “serious as a heart attack.” “We’re talking about filthy, unmitigated sluts. Obvious and loud. Shameless. Belligerent. Entitled. Selfie taking, Tindr-whoring, Teenage-walking-herpes-sores. We are talking about bad, bad individuals. Unruly, neglicted [sic], children, run-amok. That badly need to be punished. Badly. For the good of society, these women need to be raped. Here we will teach how to do it safely.”
…The site attracts more than its share of the criminally minded. “Do you think fathers should fuck their daughters?” one wrote in, adding without irony that that “would ingrain in them a healthy view of men.” Another user asked when a girl is too young to rape and was told that “9-15 is a decent range to start corrections.” And still another user who said he had “fucked a girl while she was unconscious” was told by someone else on the site that if that were true, he had “done good.”
How are we expected to laugh at the epidemic of violence against women?
Collective Shout wrote this response to a man who described us as ‘feminazis’ who lacked a sense of humour, and chose to ‘take offense’, on our Facebook page. He has since deleted his comments – because he’s now ashamed of them, we can only hope.
Feminazi: ‘A deeply offensive misogynstic slur’
Do the men who use these terms again us think about the meaning? Is the mass slaughter of Jews (and others) to be reduced to a swear-word against feminist activists? (in a similar way ‘lynch mob’ is bandied around by certain men who get called out by women, as powerfully highlighted here by Dr Helen Pringle). My Collective Shout colleague Caitlin Roper– who has received more than her fair share of slurs – emailed this to me this afternoon on the use of the term ‘Feminazi’.
The fact is it is men as a class who oppress women as a class and we can see manifestations of this everywhere we look, ranging from sexual harassment and sexist jokes to rape and femicide. To suggest that women are the oppressors and the oppressors our victims is just horrible. And while we are drawing comparisons, it’s not men who are being exterminated by women. I always feel the need to point out that it is a deeply offensive misogynistic slur, and men who use this language to silence women who speak against the oppression and abuse they endure are absolutely part of the problem.
American activist Ed Drain also expressed his contempt for the term, on my (personal) Facebook page.
Ed Drain The ONLY connections to Nazis are the wanton destruction of a huge group of people — with Hitler’s Germany, it was Jews and homosexuals, today, it is women of all kinds and colors. The comparison is apt only for the ones supporting rape culture.
Stand-up Comedian Jim Jefferies misogynist jokes fall flat
In his opening sequence he claimed that when a man put his fingers inside the vagina of an unconscious woman it was not really rape. He said women should be flattered to have their drinks spiked and be sexually violated. He criticised the women who challenge his misogyny, callingthem “uptight (insert expletive word for female genitalia here) who can’t take a joke”.
Jefferies then joked about fat women, lying women, ugly women, beautiful but boring women, dumb women, and made plenty of references to the different types of women he had had sex with. He also admitted that he’d like to have sex with a 16-year-old.
During his misogynistic sermon, he asked the audience if anyone knew the opposite of misogyny, and took delight that only one person responded. This lone voice supported his argument that misandry is generally unknown because men have no qualms with being sexually objectified by women. According to Jefferies, men are totally open to the idea of being drugged and sexually violated, and if only women could mirror this relaxed attitude and regard the prospect of being raped as a form of flattery.
Violence against women exists on a spectrum: at one end there are misogynist attitudes, which Jefferies champions. His jokes against women were delivered with passion and conviction, and sections of the crowd consumed them like hungry wolves. These jokes made me feel uncomfortable and angry because they are being told against the backdrop of a society that systematically denigrates women.
Misogynistic attitudes are the building blocks for more extreme forms of violence against women that are endemic in Australia, including: forced sex, emotional, psychological and financial abuse, revenge porn, physical violence, stalking, rape, and murder. Read full article
Let these venues know what you think of them profiting from women hatred
How come the sex industry never has anything to say about the johns and punters – the kind of men, for example, who share their ratings of women with other men in the way you might recommend a meal or place to stay? While they continue to roll out selected prostituted women as human shields* to talk about how wonderful the industry is (for example on Canberra’s ABC 666 last Friday in promoting an exhibition of the sex industry at the Canberra Museum- more to come on this), excluded is any response to the men who treat women in the trade as pieces of meat.
Men who buy sex: in their own words
Men who buy women and children for sex often regard them as less than human. We know this because the men themselves openly say so both in research and on customer review websites where men detail and rank the ‘services’ of the women they buy. These websites showcase the contempt these men have for the women they exploit.
We’ve collected a small sample of quotes from men who buy women. Several main themes emerge.
Regarding the women they buy as mere objects of sexual gratification and less than human
“Being with a prostitute is like having a cup of coffee- once you’re done with it, you throw it out.” Source
“I have an easier time treating them worse.” Source
“For gods sake woman…I just want you to get naked and suck my cock!…If you like big tits, she is your girl. Too much like hard work for me.” Source
“Some of the girls are lovely but most are just holes to f*ck.” Source
“If you want an attractive receptacle for your semen she will do.” Source
“LOL what beautiful girls OMG! WTF are you talking about dogg??? They are all old as fuck and the only young ones are ugly junkies lol rather fuck a blow up doll lol” Source
A sense of entitlement to sex any way they want it with no regard for the woman they exploit
“I don’t want them to get any pleasure. I am paying for it and it is her job to give me pleasure. If she enjoys it I would feel cheated.” Source
“…She said “NO!” Sorry, what do you mean NO, this is what I paid for.” Source
“Well, she certainly knows what she’s doing and how to please a man. And there’s no damn nonsense about ‘don’t do this’ and ‘I don’t want it in there’ either. So, in a word, a perfect whore.” Source
“She was definitely on something…her oral (covered) was mechanical to say the least…No interaction at all. I know not all the girls enjoy it, but I’m not paying them to enjoy it- just to pretend that they are.” Source
“I took the lead and it was like shagging a corpse…Someone should inform her that a part of the job is to show some enjoyment and give some pleasure back to the punter.” Source
An opportunity to control and dominate a woman and perform degrading sex acts on her that their female partners refuse
“If my fiancée won’t give me anal, I know someone who will.” Source
“You get to treat a ho like a ho…you can find a ho for any type of need – slapping, choking, aggressive sex beyond what your girlfriend will do – you won’t do stuff to your girlfriend that will make her lose her self esteem.” Source
“I guess the big thing is the control aspect of it. When you’re with a prostitute you have control over what happens. You get to have control over what you do, when, how, in what order, and I like that.” Source
“I would have no issue making a girl do what I want, after all that is what I pay for. 60 minutes of HER time to make ME happy doing whatever I want. If she doesn’t like it she is in the wrong game. I never spit on a girl but I have raised my hand to a girl.” Source
Recognising that the women they buy are unwilling participants
“I wish she had loosened up or pretended to be into it more. She grimaced as I came on her which was a turn off…Would recommend for those interested in ethnic girls, big boobs…just wish she’d lighten up a bit.” Source
“[She] pulled away, which really put me off. She didn’t seem to like her hair being touched…she just seemed really on edge for the whole, short time I was with her.” Source
“She had the gagging expression on her face…again she just lay there and complained about it hurting.” Source
“I got the impression she was somewhere else, and even though she looked, she wouldn’t make eye contact. Total waste of cash. The management should starve girls like this to make them perform.” Source
“Overall, she is quite attractive, but doesn’t have a great attitude and gives the impression that she doesn’t really want to be here.” Source
Describing signs of women who have been trafficked for sexual exploitation
“Onto the sex which was the best part as Hana was tight and able to take instuctions [sic] well. Her English is non existant [sic] in April but may be better now. Lucky for me i was able to converse in some Korean with her.”- ‘Might and Power’, Punter Planet, 19 June 2011
“The thing that struck me was the absence of the usual cheerful welcoming manner I enjoy with most other Thai girls. She did flash a pretty smile once or twice but mostly made it glumly obvious that my visit was just a chore for her. So although I got my semen extracted, I couldn’t call that a joyful hour.” Source
“Cold and passive. I tried to talk to her to understand if there was an issue: homesickness, personal event? Unfortunately with her poor English, I could barely get a few words as an answer…She remained passive and distant.” Source
“Ukrainian brunette in her teenage years…She seemed disinterested and took off her clothes as if she was merely doing a duty, alarm bells started ringing as she lay down on the bed without a word, no attempt at trying to warm up and break the ice…Her English is poor…[she] seemed nervous and fidgety.” Source
“Unenthusiastic, dispassionate…she claimed afterwards that she was “just tired” but I suspect she’s not cut out for being a WG [Working Girl]. I wonder if it would be stretching a thought too far to question if she had in any way been coerced?” Source
As Mary Lucille Sullivan pointed out in her book Making Sex Work, “The [sex] buyer’s economic power means he determines how the sexual act will be played out. Buyers believe their purchasing power entitles them to demand any type of sex they want.” It is clear that many men are more concerned with the quality of the ‘sexual service’ than the fact that women they pay to exploit are not there by choice.
Earlier this month, ABC’s Lateline dedicated a segment to exploring Sweden’s solution to prostitution and trafficking. The ‘Nordic model’ criminalises the demand for commercial sexual exploitation, decriminalizes those exploited, and provides exit programs for individuals in prostitution who want to leave the industry.
Various human rights campaigners and organisations along with prostitution survivors advocate for the implementation of the Nordic model, with former US president Jimmy Carter calling it ‘the only workable solution’. Nordic legislation has been implemented in a growing number of countries around the world, and the European Parliament overwhelmingly voted in favour of it.
Gunilla Ekberg explained the rationale behind criminalizing buyers of sex and decriminalizing the sellers:
“One of the cornerstones of Swedish policies against prostitution and trafficking in human beings is the focus on the root cause, the recognition that without men’s demand for and use of women and girls for sexual exploitation, the global prostitution industry would not be able to flourish and expand.”
While there are countless debates over the notion of ‘choice’ for women and children in the sex trade, largely missing from these discussions is the role of men who make choices to buy women and children for sexual exploitation.
Over half are married or in a de-facto relationship
The sex industry attempts to obscure the realities of prostitution, including its gendered nature. It is primarily men buying mainly women and children. According to Detective Inspector Simon Haggstrom of the Stockholm Police Prostitution Unit, in the 15 years since buying sex has been criminalized, they have not found a single woman paying for sex. While the media narrative tends to depict lonely or even disabled men who are just looking for some companionship or someone to talk to, a major international study found that over half were married or in a de-facto relationship.
One exited woman shed some light on why men in committed intimate relationships buy women. She said, “I spent 15 years servicing men and allowing them to use me any way they saw fit. I’ve had clients confess that the things they paid me to do were things they would never ask their wives, whom they respected, or their “child’s mother” to do.
Many are well aware women are exploited
The study describes how men who pay to sexually exploit women are aware of the harms to women they exploit:
“The sex buyers had an extensive awareness of the intimate relationship between coercion, prostitution and trafficking.”
“Many (41%) of the sex buyers used women who they knew were controlled by pimps at the time they used her.”
“Both sex buyers and non-sex buyers evidenced extensive knowledge of the physical and psychological harms of prostitution.”
“Two thirds of both the sex buyers and the non-sex buyers observed that a majority of women are lured, tricked, or trafficked into prostitution.”
“Many of them had an awareness of the economic coercion and lack of alternatives in women’s entry into prostitution.”
“Almost all of the sex buyers and non-sex buyers shared the opinion that minor children are almost always available for prostitution in bars, massage parlours, escort and other prostitution in Boston.”
But this awareness didn’t stop them:
“The knowledge that women have been exploited, coerced, pimped or trafficked failed to deter sex buyers from buying sex.”
They know what would deter them
The men surveyed agreed that the most effective deterrents to buying sex would be being placed on a sex offender registry, public exposure, significant fines and jail time.
Progress under the Nordic model
Since Sweden’s legislation criminalising the buying of sex, considerable progress has been made. According to research from the Nordic Gender Institute, the number of men buying sex has decreased from 13.6% in 1996 to 7.9% in 2008. Street prostitution in Sweden has halved while in neighbouring countries such as Norway and Denmark it is estimated to be three times higher. Police have intercepted phone correspondence between pimps and traffickers who now regard Sweden as an unattractive market and suggest Denmark, Germany or Holland (where prostitution is legal) as alternatives. Reportedly, there has been a cultural shift in Sweden where it is no longer considered acceptable to purchase another person.
As proponents of the Nordic model attest, we cannot oppose sex trafficking of women and children and support the commercial sexual exploitation of women and children that is prostitution. Sex trafficking would cease to exist if men stopped buying women. There can never be gender equality while women are commodities to be bought and sold.
…the reality of prostitution is not a romantic fantasy but a tragic horror story. Sadly, in my work with Exodus Cry, my colleagues and I have encountered young women who have told us that Pretty Women lured them into the sex industry by leading them to believe that prostitution was glamorous and romantic. We interviewed one such girl for our documentary about sex trafficking. Stephanie was sexually abused as a child and entered into prostitution underage. She was dominated by an abusive, controlling pimp and trafficked for sex…. She told us, “I watched the movie, Pretty Woman, and I was like, well gosh, look at her, she’s beautiful, she’s making money, she’s meeting guys, and she fell in love with this guy, and she’s living in this nice hotel suite, and has everything she wants, and she’s fallen in love, man I need to become a ho. That’s what I thought, so, that’s what I did. I experienced nothing like Pretty Woman, it’s totally, totally different. I’ve been held hostage at gunpoint, raped, robbed, strangled, beaten up, everything, by customers.” Read full article here.
*With thanks to Dr Helen Pringle for the ‘human shields’ phrase.
Are you a good feminist? Bad feminist? Is it really about you?
Today the downturn of women’s rights is smacking us upside the face. Femicide is reaching such epidemic proportions that nations like Brazil are introducing special legislation against it. Australia’s rate of sexual violence has jumped 20% in a year, statistics that are reflected in a host of other countries. The global scourge of trafficking continues to reach record highs.
A whole raft of issues are affecting women now more than ever before. Yet, as the events to mark International Women’s Day in Australia showed, most of these issues are eschewed entirely by a feminist dialogue that refuses to look beyond personal choice.
On International Women’s Day the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) hosted an all woman line up to discuss feminism. Yet, in line with downplaying the crisis surrounding women’s rights, the special episode took to dividing audience members based on whether they identified as ‘bad feminists’ or not. This is a category that neither theoretically nor pragmatically exists, more in line with high school buzzwords than progressive politics.
Feminism, broadly speaking, offers a political lens within which gendered issues can be better understood, analysed and contextualised. In the past, feminism has proven to be successful in confronting a number of these issues.
Yet today, for a large part, feminism is entirely liberalized. It is less about global political issues with their gendered contexts, and more about personal choices in the pursuit of individual happiness.
Feminism has been gutted by an individualistic drive to validate lifestyles. ‘Can I wear heels and aprons and be feminist?’ ‘Is this lippy feminist?’ ‘I’m a bad feminist, aren’t I?’ Such questions opened the feminist Q&A session, a fitting reflection of the broader liberal feminist dialogue. At times, there appeared little distinction between feminism and the Cosmo fashion police.
Feminism was not designed as a personal quick fix cure all. It is not going to choose careers, fix relationships or overhaul wardrobes. It’s not going to endorse any choices, make us feel good about our new splurge or tuck us in at night. In fact for the most part, feminism will challenge, trouble and confront.
But it was meant to do just that. Feminism emerged from the consciousness of women of the liberation era, the very women that fought for women’s right to work, our right to vote, our right to not be legally raped in marriage, our right to escape violence in the home and seek refuge. Yet this consciousness is now denied as old and deemed too prudish, wrong or just blatantly ignored.
Taking its place is the shiny new liberal feminism that is far sexier, more ‘feminine’ and ultimately reinforcing of the status quo. Taking up the ‘bad feminist’ label is just one of a myriad of ways liberal feminism misses the point.
Our intensely westernized instinct to ask ‘what’s in it for me’ means feminism has been depoliticised to the point that feminism is purely about ‘personal choice’ and any ‘choice’ being justified regardless of how much harm it might cause to other women around the world.
Cosmetics that rely on sexist and racist stereotypes to sell their product? Feminism. Making pornography where women are slapped, choked and spat on? It’s been called feminism. Promoting the sex industry that is responsible for the exploitation of millions of girls around the world? That’s economic opportunism, or rather, feminism.
Activist Julie Bindel is labelled ‘dangerously irresponsible’ by feminist colleagues for criticizing pornography. As if the multibillion-dollar global porn industry will collapse under one woman’s words. The liberal version of feminism goes to lengths to deny the evidence that shows harm done to girls, women and men under these industries – to the point that feminism now defends the sources of sexism and vilifies women who speak against it.
In its bid to shake the ‘old’ ‘prudish’ and ‘man hating’ stereotypes of past, feminism has had the ultimate makeover. Like a good celebrity, feminism now brings heat rather than light to women’s issues.
Ironically, as feminism has reached its most liberal and least potent form, there is a swelling movement of young people that argue feminism ‘has gone too far’. For young women who are more likely to deal with sexual coercions that eclipse anything we have seen before this is undeniable evidence that any notion of gender equality could not be farther from a reality today.
When the question of young women sexting naked images came up in Q&A, the entire context of socialisation and sexual pressures were ignored. We were reminded it was a ‘choice’ and rebellion. This was no surprise given liberal feminism asserts that pop stars, feminist porn and ‘free choice’ for all of the above will save us.
If we acknowledge there is a war on women, then sexual objectification is it’s propaganda and both sides are selling it. While claiming to promote ‘choice’, liberal feminism has actually reinforced the sexual pressure that sees girl’s choices more constrained than ever before.
This contradictory soup of individualistic choice feminism may make bearable entertainment for women who’ve cut their teeth on feminist literature, but what message is this sending to young women on how seriously we take women’s rights?
The focus needs to shift away from what kind of dresses women like to wear, or what kind of label women like to identify with. The issue is not simply a matter of individual choices or identities.
So, are you a good feminist or a bad feminist? Is it really about you?
The sex industry’s reaction to even mild questioning of its position demonstrates how any discussion about prostitution is shut down in Australia.
When an industry is used to having its way day after day and rarely being called to account, it’s a rare moment when a serious national current affairs program such as ABC’s Lateline (welcome back!) decides to explore the realities of life for women in the industry, give voice to survivors and provide coverage of the Nordic Model which criminalises not the prostituted women but the buyers of these women, now taken up by a number of countries.(Last year, the European Parliament and the Council of Europe both passed non-binding motions on prostitution that recommended the adoption of the Nordic Model throughout Europe and France has also taken steps to adopt the same).
This is one clip of four from the Lateline program March 13. (The other interviews can be found on Lateline’s website). This extract, titled ‘Reaching out to Sex Workers’ shows Kate Connett, an outreach worker with Project Respect, on her brothel visitation rounds. As a survivor of the industry herself, Kate’s bravery is commendable. Thank you for speaking out Kate.
Lateline’s coverage was fair. Pro sex industry figures and Nordic model critics were represented. But even this mild coverage was attacked by the Scarlett Alliance and their friends especially on social media (search twitter @Lateline @Scarlett Alliance #Lateline). We need to ask why the sex work movement is so hostile to any suggestion that prostitution harms women? Looks like a case of vested interests, with the industry doing all it can to silence dissent.
The sex industry’s reaction to even mild questioning of the its position demonstrates how any discussion about prostitution is shut down in Australia.
However a new movement – led by a number of women who were once involved in the sex industry – is calling on Australia to adopt the NORDIC model. It is growing in strength daily and so many of us are hoping that a policy model which recognises prostitution as violence against women and punishes the perpetrators and not the victims, is implemented here as soon as possible.
…Hedges went on to say, “This is just an example of the utter hypocrisy of the liberal establishment which, on this issue, has abandoned poor women – primarily poor women of colour – to a form of sexual slavery and abuse.”
He calls Collis’ response “an example of how spineless and morally bankrupted the liberal establishment is, particularly on this issue as well as on many others. Every time it’s uncomfortable to stand up for something they run for the exit door. Yet they position themselves as moral or good people.”
Juan Salmeron and I talk discuss objectification of women in the music industry – and other places
Being interviewed by the death metal music magazine Metal Blast was a first.
I’m not exactly known for my taste in black metal The closest I got to ‘heavy’ was Suzi Quatro singing Devil Gate Drive in the 70s. Though I do confess to being persuaded by two mates to turn up at a cacophonous metal gig at a music festival in Queensland a couple of years back – fortunately I still have one functioning ear. And ‘black metal tyrants’ 1349’s ‘Massive Cauldron of Chaos’ album title describes how my life feels on too many days. But anyway, German-based Metal Blast editor Juan Salmeron, sought me out. He is, interestingly, both an attorney-at-law and a metal head, according to his bio:
Considered by his mother as the brightest and prettiest boy, J’s interest in metal started in his early teens, listening to bands like Iron Maiden and Metallica (coupled with an embarrassing period in which Marilyn Manson “totally represents me, man”) eventually moving into the realm of power, industrial and death metal. When he’s not working at Metal Blast he can be found practicing Krav Maga, working as an attorney and coming up with excuses as to why he has to miss work after going to a concert. He also dabbles as a concert photographer, you can see his sub-par work on his instagram.
Juan just emailed me to say: “The response has been great; I’ve received e-mails, and even some girls contacted me and told me about their own cases of sexual abuse. It’s something that needs to be addressed”. So that’s good to know.
This week marked the International Day For the Elimination of Violence Against Women. If any voices should be heard at this time, it is those of survivors. Here are two, addressing the physical, mental, emotional, and financial costs of the harm done to them by male abusers.
Sexual assault has robbed me of my confidence and my self-esteem. My dignity, my autonomy and my self-respect. My faith in myself and my faith in the world have been decimated
On Wednesday, the 21st of May, the man who raped me was sentenced. Four years, four months and four days after the assault took place. In the end, he did not face charges of rape – the two charges of rape were dropped and the Prosecution accepted a plea deal from the Defense for the accused to plead guilty to one charge of “indecent assault”.
At the plea hearing, I read a Victim Impact Statement to the court. I have posted my statement below.
A Victim Impact Statement is the sole space where the criminal justice system allows the victim of a crime – or the Crown Witness in Victoria’s criminal justice system – to speak of how the crime has affected them. Victims can choose to read their statement to the court themselves or have it read for them by the Prosecutor.
I chose to attend the court and read my statement myself. My family came with me for support and my mum also read a victim impact statement to the court – reflecting on the impacts she had noticed in me and also on the impacts the crime had on our entire family.
It was a distressing experience. Also present in the court were the accused, his legal team, the prosecution, the judge and her staff, journalists and my entire family. To stand up and speak of how my life has been ruined, how I have been crushed, by sexual assault before this group of people was one of the most intimidating and vulnerable things I have ever done. It is not often that we reveal our suffering plainly, explicitly before an audience. To do so publicly, and before the very person who caused that suffering, was distressing and somewhat humiliating.
However, I chose to speak my statement myself because I wanted my words to be my own. I didn’t want them coming out of someone else’s mouth. I didn’t want them spoken by someone who has not lived what I have, who has not been subject to sexual assault, who could not know what I am trying to convey. I wanted to claim this one paltry opportunity provided in the criminal justice system to be heard as a victim and to speak for myself.
It’s hard to know what the value of a Victim Impact Statement is, whether it makes any difference. But when the system has so little time or care for victims this is our one chance and I was grateful for the opportunity it provided, even if I am still reeling from the experience of delivering it.
The impacts of sexual assault for me have been devastating, profound and far-reaching. They have impacted every area of my life and every part of my self.
Almost immediately after the sexual assault, the losses started and to this day I continue to be held back and limited in my life because of the impacts of sexual assault.
First of all I lost my home. Rae Street, my home, was also the place that the sexual assault took place and, to this day, that area remains a place of terror and distress to me. I managed to return to that house only a few times after the assault. Within days of the assault I knew that I would have to move out, leaving my friends, my housemates and an area I loved. My family had to move my belongings from the house because I could not manage even that, the associations were so negative and fearsome.
I lost my career. At first, I took 5 weeks off work. Then I tried to return part time. But it quickly became clear that I was in no state of mind to manage even that. The impacts of trauma were so invasive and so omnipresent that I could no longer carry out my job. As a manager my role entailed responsibility and high-level decision-making. It was a stressful and demanding position, full of challenges. I had thrived on those challenges. But now, trauma prevented me from accomplishing even the most basic tasks. I would jump if the phone rang. I would try to work but flashbacks and intrusive thoughts prevented me from concentrating. As a result, I felt I had no choice but to resign from my position while I sought help to heal my mind and my body.
That was only the beginning of my professional losses, however. About a month before the sexual assault I had applied for a scholarship with the French government for a teaching position in France. A few months after the assault I received notification that I had been awarded a scholarship. A teaching position in Paris. Had I not been assaulted this would have been a dream come true. Something I had long wanted to do. However, I was no longer in a position to take up such an exciting opportunity. I had to turn it down. All because I no longer believed I could be safe. All because, with the traumatised condition I was in, I knew I couldn’t survive without the constant loving support of my family. I needed the familiarity of my childhood home, the security of my family’s unwavering assistance and the relative safety of a country in which my extensive support networks could be constantly about me. There was no longer any way I could move to the other side of the world. Losing this opportunity still devastates me today and will remain a life-long disappointment for me.
To this day – nearly four and a half years since the assault – I have not been able to work full-time. The physical and psychological impacts of the assault continue to interfere in my daily life and prevent me from achieving what used to come so easily. I do not know when I will be in a position to return to full-time work.
Not being able to work full-time for over four years now has had a significant financial impact – severely restricting my earning capacity and costing me tens of thousands of dollars in lost income. It has meant that at different times during the past four and a half years since the assault I have been dependent on family or on welfare to support me. However, it has also exacted a huge personal cost. Not being able to work full-time is humiliating and distressing. Full-time employment is not just a way to make a living, it is a way to participate in and contribute to the world.
I see a psychiatrist every month for support with the symptoms of post-traumatic stress. The hyper-vigilance, the repetitive and intrusive thoughts, the flashbacks, sleeplessness, insomnia, nightmares, difficulties in concentration, memory problems – all of these are things I struggle with on a daily basis. I continue to rely on psychiatric medications to support me to manage these symptoms. The persistence and invasiveness of post-traumatic stress wears me down and consumes so much of my energy that full-time work is not a possibility.
However, my career is not the only thing I have lost as a consequence of sexual assault and the symptoms of post-traumatic stress. I have also lost my social life. Before the assault I had an active and vibrant social life. Spending time with friends, going out, socialising – these were things I took completely for granted. They were a normal and completely unremarkable part of life. This is no longer the case. Since the assault, I have lost my social life and the inability to socialise freely and regularly has meant that in many ways I have lost my social networks.
So much of my life revolves around negotiating the impacts of sexual assault, of coping with post-traumatic stress and of trying to keep myself safe and well. All this takes up time and energy – time and energy which, prior to the assault, would have gone to work and to my social life.
But it’s also more complicated than that. Sexual assault has robbed me of my confidence and my self-esteem. My dignity, my autonomy and my self-respect have all been compromised as a result of the crime carried out against me. My faith in myself and my faith in the world have been decimated.
I struggle to believe I have anything to offer my friends anymore. I am not the person I was before the assault and I will never be the same as a result of what has been done to me. I struggle to remember what life was like when things like safety could be taken for granted. I am afraid I cannot live up to the expectations of those who knew me before. I struggle to connect to people in good faith and to trust them. I constantly wonder if the people around me mean well or mean me harm. I struggle to find the energy, on so many days, to fight through the difficulties sexual assault has created for me and reach out to others. Solitude and isolation too often seem like the safe option, the safest option and so, social isolation has become yet another reality of life for me since the assault.
It has not all been bleak. I have found ways to cope and I have had the extraordinary good fortune to have a supportive and loving family who have unwaveringly stood by me. I have had excellent professional support, too. However, the impacts of sexual assault continue to affect me, years after the assault, on a daily basis. Not a day goes by when what was done to me does not interfere with my life or limit the life I lead in some way. Sexual assault has cost me profoundly, in many ways, and has set my life on a completely different course from the one it would have taken, had I not been assaulted. I have lost so much and many of those losses cut right to the core of who I am and can never be undone.
For information about Victim Impact Statements and services for victims of crime in Victoria you can go here.
Consider the huge financial burden of putting women back together
An estimated 198,000 sexual assaults [occurred in 2011 in Australia], the vast majority of which were against women. The average medical cost for those injured was $950 per incident. The estimated total cost of sexual assault, including those not reported to police was $775 million.
As a survivor of sexual violence, I read with great interest. One line in particular stood out to me:
‘The average medical cost for those injured was $950 per incident.’
I recalled my own personal history and the lengthy process of working towards healing, and the costs associated with recovery, $950 seemed low. (Of course, the financial costs for victims of rape and sexual assault are often far greater than merely medical as the account above shows).
In the process of obtaining a restraining order against the man who had abused me for almost a year, I incurred legal bills totaling almost $4000. My parents came up with the money somehow, as I was a traumatized nineteen year old university student and my few shifts a week in a fast food chain didn’t cover much more than petrol money.
Therapy, extending over twelve years and three psychologists totalled about $6000.
I spent hundreds on a variety of antidepressant medications, including Zoloft, Pritiq, Escitalopram that GPs offered me as I struggled with depression.
At one point, my husband resigned from his job in a leadership role to stay home and care for our children because I could no longer function. This was around the time when I had finally reported my abuser. After months of going back and forth with police, they concluded that because the perpetrator was exercising his legal right to remain silent, they did not have enough evidence to charge him.
Our family survived on a carer’s pension during this period while my husband played the roles of both father and mother and I just slept and slept. I recall one day her came into our room, gently woke me and said,”It’s 4pm, maybe you should get up?”
We had hoped to spend more time on my recovery, on slowly building my strength back up and taking on some of my regular tasks again. However, circumstances necessitated my husband get back into the workforce sooner than we had anticipated, when our landlord significantly raised the rent and we could no longer afford it. After applying for ten different properties and being rejected from all, it was clear we could not keep a roof over our heads without my husband resuming full time employment, which he did. By this point, of course, we were in a pretty desperate situation and my husband had to accept a job with a $20000 pay cut. We didn’t have the luxury of being picky.
There were appointments with the psychiatrist, ten years later, who finally diagnosed me with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which I had been living with ever since the abuse without knowing there was a name for it. Throw in a few hundred dollars for those appointments.
I was fortunate to be accepted into a clinical study where researchers at a hospital in the city had been awarded a substantial government funding to study different treatments for PTSD. I was one of nineteen people who participated in the study and received treatment. Six weeks of intensive treatment, including PET scans and MRI scans to record any changes to the brain throughout and after the process was competed.
Hospital appointments and follow up appointments every three months. How many thousands of dollars were spent there?
At the time, I lived in a regional area, hours from the city. My petrol costs driving to and from the city each week came to around $2000.
Then there was the day when I couldn’t bear it any longer and I overdosed on pills, landing myself in the hospital attached to a cardiac monitor. Who knows how much that cost?
That year of sexual abuse has taken a massive toll on myself and my family, emotionally and financially. While I wasn’t personally covering every cost outlined above, someone was – whether it was Medicare, government grants, my parents.
We cannot underestimate the cost of rape, sexual assault and violence against women. Consider the huge financial burden of putting women back together. I can’t help but wonder what the world might look like if we hadn’t been broken in the first place.
You may have heard about the misogynist antics of self-proclaimed “pick-up artist” and Real Social Dynamics (RSD) coach, Julien Blanc, whose recommendations for picking up women include grabbing women’s throats and pushing their faces into your crotch. Or you may have heard the sexist lyrics promoted by American entertainer, Redfoo, in his new single “Literally, I Can’t,” wherein women are encouraged to perform “girl on girl” for men at parties and, when they refuse, are instructed to “shut the fuck up.” If, like me, you walked away feeling offended by the actions of these men — I’m pleased to report that you were not alone.
Over the last month, both Blanc and Redfoo have been widely criticized by feminist activists and bloggers throughout Australia and North America. Recently, Blanc’s Visa was cancelled in Australia when a group of protesters picketed outside the venue where he was set to give one of his controversial RSD seminars — a protest that was spurred on by the hashtag, #takedownjulienblanc. Redfoo’s latest video sparked the hashtag #shutthefooup and prompted a Change.org petition demanding his dismissal as a judge from X Factor Australia.
I get excited to create things that will unite all of us through laughter, dance & celebration. If during the process I offend anyone, I apologize from the bottom of my heart. In the future I will be more mindful of the way I present my art.
Following Redfoo’s vague apology for his “excited” behaviour and contentious “art,” Blanc also issued an apology during an interview on CNN. In one excerpt of the five minute conversation, Blanc nervously says:
Like, I feel horrible. I’m not going to be happy to be the most hated man in the world. I’m overwhelmed by the way people are responding. With those pictures there that you’re referring to, of again, like, choking women, um, I just want to make that clear, that is not what I teach. Like, … those pictures right there, those were a horrible, horrible attempt at humour. Um, you know, it’s… you know, they were also, like, taken out of context…
On the surface, both Blanc and Redfoo appear to address the public’s concerns, but a closer inspection of their “apologies” reveals that the main reason they are sorry is because they feel they are either being misinterpreted or condemned. Indeed, while both Blanc and Redfoo use the words “sorry” and “apology” in their statements, what’s actually missing from their apologies is the apology itself.
In his memoir, The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch explains that there are three parts to giving a sincere apology: Identifying what you did wrong, assuring the offended party that you will not repeat your misbehaviour, and finally (and perhaps most importantly), asking what you can do to make it better. Both Blanc and Redfoo’s apologies fall short of providing what I consider to be a sincere apology, as they fail to critique (or understand the critique of) their misogynist behaviour and, as a consequence, cannot actually commit to changing their actions and making amends.
The lack of critical reflection in both Blanc and Redfoo’s ttempts to clarify their position shows how little they understand or care about the response to (or the impact of) their behaviour. Rather than discussing the systemic problem of men’s violence against women, which is where the vast majority of feminist activists are citing concern, both men hide behind the argument that their messages were taken “out of context” and claim they have been “misrepresented” — taken seriously when really it was all in good fun.
On Twitter, Redfoo accuses his critics of having an “agenda” and of failing to understand the supposedly “satirical” nature of his music, gaining the support of one Australian shock-jock who, during an interview with Redfoo, calls critics of his new song, “dickheads,” “do-gooder idiots,” and “Tupperware-collecting party-poopers.”*
Blanc also issues an apology that references “humour” as a way of, at least partially, justifying his actions, explaining that the offensive pictures of him on social media, some of which allude to sexually violent acts, were simply “taken out of context” and were intended to be funny.
Hiding behind a thin veil of humour to justify one’s misogyny is not new. Indeed, this notion has and been discussed at length by feminist writers such as Abigail Bray. In Misogyny Re-Loaded, Bray argues that, “if misogyny has a soundtrack it is canned laughter… Laughter instructs the audience that it is not only permissible to laugh at the oppression of women but that it is expected.”
Rather than apologizing and reflecting on the criticisms defining their actions as sexist and deplorable, Blanc and Redfoo minimize concern. Indeed, both men react with a sense of shock that their messages have caused outrage to begin with, with Blanc claiming he was “overwhelmed” by the attention his antics were receiving and Redfoo saying, “I don’t know how rape culture and Redfoo got into the same headline.” In an age where rape culture has become a topic for the lulz, perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised.
Because Blanc and Redfoo fail to identify, acknowledge, and discuss the factors that sparked outrage to begin with, they are incapable of sincerely promising to change. While both men do make references to modifying their future actions, they do so in a vague and superficial way. Redfoo ensures his fans that, he will be “more mindful” when presenting his “art” in future, while Blanc explains that he is walking away from this experience hoping to “re-evaluat[e] everything” he posts online.
But what exactly do their “mindful re-evaluations” entail? How can someone truly make amends when they have not even identified why their actions sparked outrage to begin with? As readers, feminists, bloggers, and survivors of men’s violence, we are left with a series of apologies that fail to address our concerns at all — and we deserve better. An insincere apology is worse than receiving no apology at all.
*Note: I have only ever attended one Tupperware party when I was seven. I was offered a zucchini quiche and at no point was I told to “shut the fuck up.” TUPPERWARE PARTIES ROCK.
(reprinted with permission of author) Natalie Jovanovski is a PhD Candidate and Feminist Researcher from Melbourne, Australia. Her research interests include the harms of sexual objectification, the cultural reinforcement of eating disorders, and the discursive portrayal of food in contemporary Western media.
‘I have lost count of how many women have told me they have been raped. All of the rapists have gotten away with it while the women are burdened with years of unspeakable shame and self-hatred – an explosive new manifesto against rape culture’ (extract from Misogyny Re-loaded)
Julien Blanc may be gone but looks who’s here. Matthew Berryman on the rise and influence of pick-up culture in Australia
By Dr Matthew Berryman
Following the online campaign started by Jennifer Li to #takedownjulienblanc, I’ve started looking into the world of “Real Social Dynamics” (RSD), the company Blanc is a part of, and I’m highly disturbed by what I have found. I’m sympathetic to young men who need confidence building and dating tips. I was a shy nerdy young man too. But there’s a massive world of difference between genuine advice and what RSD has to offer. It goes well beyond one video of Blanc doing his infamous “head on dick” sexual assault of Japanese women.
It includes everything from a culture of objectification of women through to making fun of people with disabilities (‘retarded’ in RSD language) to pick up.
The co-founder of RSD is Owen Cook, known as RSD Tyler. Here he appears to admit to raping a woman.
Here he is making a racist slur in a nightclub.
Here he is joking about killing a cat and then sexually assaulting its corpse.
Rape culture is part of the forum, from discussion of rape vans through to this comment on their forum – a sick attempt to justify rape.
“They dream about this. They wanna be tied up and fully succumb to your aggressive masculinity. They want you to push them against the wall, rip their clothes off, put her in a submissive position and call her bitch, slut, whore until their skull can’t take it anymore…”
“See as much as women wanna be raped, they also want to be made feel beautiful.”
It’s deeply disturbing how many members that RSD have, and their influence. Last I checked, their insider Facebook groups (now made private) had over 300 members for Brisbane and over 1000 for Sydney. RSD Tyler’s YouTube channel has over 95,000 subscribers, and RSD Julien’s over 43,000.
RSD Alex is an RSD trainer on the Gold Coast. One of his associates is Adrian James Holt, aka Adrian Van Oyen, a candid camera/prank ‘comedian’ with a history of harassing people on trains. Julien Blanc may have been deported but Holt and other Australian men continue to foment and spread pick-up culture activities here.
Some people must find this amusing as he has over a million subscribers. His method has since been adopted as a pick-up tactic by RSD members. Following his train videos video, Lipton decided for a reason I cannot fathom, to pay Holt, who they describe as a “hilarious YouTube sensation” for an advertisement for iced tea.
Shortly after that, in November 2013, Holt released this video where he tries to use sexual assault as a ‘pick-up’ strategy.
Not only is this totally unacceptable and unempathetic, it’s also a crime. I have alerted Queensland Crimestoppers to this with a report made yesterday. Astoundingly, the original copy of this video has had over 2.8 million views.
This whole misogynist “pick-up” agency material doesn’t just lessen women, but it lessens men, and it has to stop. I’m not saying this because I am of the “extreme left” (as one RSD troll said)—I’m just slightly left of centre, and this transcends politics, anyway. Nor is it because I’m pretending to be a nice guy in order to get laid—I’m happily married—it is important to respect others anyway, which may indeed get you noticed by women, but that’s besides the point. Nor is this about’ group think’, I’ve obviously thought about these issues on my own and then decided to campaign. This is all about respect and consent. It’s not hard to understand.
If you are a young man seeking advice, then don’t get it from Real Social Dynamics. There are proper counselling services out there, if you can’t get good advice from mates, or asking your mum (yes, put embarrassment aside for a few minutes, she has advice for you), or even a girl who you are just friends with. Yes guys can be just friends with a girl, and it’s how I got some of my best dating tips.
Dr Matthew Berryman is a loving husband and a dad to two daughters who he adores. By day he works in IT, at night he campaigns to make the world a better place.
My piece on Herald Sun website here: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/opinion/julien-blancs-sexist-abusive-pickup-methods-should-be-rejected-by-aussie-venues-says-melinda-tankard-reist/story-fni0ffsx-1227112652542
Blanc’s training seminar: how to grab women’s heads and shove them into your groin
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