Archive for the ‘Dominique Strauss-Kahn’ Tag

When Rape Victims Lie   112 comments

No, this isn’t a post about how women are lying hussies out to ruin the lives of good men with wrongful rape accusations. If that’s what you were expecting, you’re definitely reading the wrong blog (actually, come to think of, stick around; you may learn something).

What I’m talking about is this: Living in a rape culture, women are acutely aware of the type of rapes–and the type of victims–that are taken seriously. And the type that aren’t. The “good” victim (the only kind that counts in the minds of many, many people) is attacked by someone she doesn’t know while dressed “modestly” and not under the influence of alcohol/drugs or engaged in “risky” behavior. She’s an upstanding citizen with no history of criminal activity, mental illness, or conduct outside the norms of mainstream society.

Thanks to prevailing rape mythology, many people also have very definite ideas about what happens before, during, and after a “real” rape. Real rape victims want no sexual contact of any kind with their attackers and make this crystal clear right from the start. When attacked, they don’t just say “No;” they scream, fight, yell for help, and/or try to escape. Ideally, the victim will duke it out with her attacker to such an extent that she is left with obvious physical injuries. After the rape, she will be visibly distraught and in tears, but this will not prevent her from reporting the attack right away. In the days and weeks following the assault, she will spend a lot of time in the shower and be too traumatized to appear to function normally.

Some rapes do indeed happen like that; most don’t. And the more a rape departs from this script, the harder it is for the victim to be believed and taken seriously. She didn’t fight or try to escape? She must’ve wanted it. She wasn’t crying or visibly upset right after the rape? She’s probably lying about being attacked. She was seen laughing and seemingly having a good time just days after being raped? It couldn’t have been that bad.
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Here We Go Again: Media Coverage of High Profile Rape Cases   5 comments

Another powerful man has been accused of sexually assaulting a woman, and while it may be tempting to say that the media coverage has been shockingly bad, the truth is that there’s nothing shocking or even surprising about it. This is the type of coverage we’ve come to expect every time a woman has the tremendous courage needed to report a rape, particularly when the man who raped her is rich and powerful and she isn’t.

Unless you’ve spent the past week under a rock, you’ve heard about the arrest of International Monetary Fund chief (now resigned) Dominique Strauss-Kahn on sexual assault charges. DSK, who also happened to be the likely presidential candidate of the French Socialist Party and a very real threat to Sarkozy, stands accused of anally and orally assaulting a hotel employee and attempting to rape her vaginally. The victim, a poor African immigrant employed as a chambermaid, reported the attack to hotel management who eventually called the police. When the cops arrived, DSK had already left the hotel and was headed to JFK to grab the afternoon flight back to France. Police caught up with him at the airport ten minutes before take-off and took him into custody.

It’s not so much the actual case I want to discuss as the puke-worthy media coverage on both sides of the Atlantic. It’s as if feminism never happened! Feminists have tried to get across the message that rape isn’t sex and isn’t even about sex for, oh I don’t know, several decades now. Rape can be about power, control, entitlement, anger, rage, domination, and hate. Sexual contact/penetration is just the weapon. FBI profilers divide rapists into four categories–Power Reassurance, Power Assertive, Anger Retaliatory, and Anger Excitation–based on their motivation and modus operandi. Nowhere to be found in this typology is the “nice guy” who is so overcome with sexual desire by the sight of an attractive woman that he “just can’t help himself.” That’s because that guy doesn’t exist.

Unfortunately this message has clearly been falling on deaf ears. Not only does the mainstream media believe that rape is about sex, but they’re actually repeating the refrain of rape apologists everywhere that rape is just sex. News report after news report refers to the allegations against DSK as “sex charges,” a “sex scandal,” and a “hotel-sex case.” And I’ve lost track of the number of articles equating an act of torture (yes, rape is recognized as a form of torture) with extramarital affairs or eccentric but consensual sexual practices, while the author ponders the “cultural divide” between France and the US. The LA Times, for example, informs us that “(i)n sexual matters, the French consider themselves open-minded and liberal and dismiss Americans in particular — and Anglo-Saxons in general — as puritanical and uptight. It follows, therefore, that a French politician’s sexual peccadilloes, extramarital affairs and indiscretions are nobody’s business but his own.” Oh yeah, totally. Some dude tearing off your clothes and ramming his dick into every orifice as you’re desperately trying to fight him off, hey, that’s just a minor indiscretion on his part. Nobody’s business but his own and certainly nothing to make a big deal about. After all, you wouldn’t want to be “puritanical and uptight.”
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