Yes, It Is Rape In Every Instance

Image from UCASA

Image from UCASA

Yesterday HB 74 went to committee at the Utah State Legislature. The bill, sponsored by Representative Angela Romero (D-Salt Lake City), would clarify consent laws to include language that protects people with disabilities from sexual assault, as well as anyone who is unconscious at the time of assault. The bill seems pretty cut and dry to anyone with a slight understanding of healthy sex and sexuality, but a few legislators voiced concern on some really unsettling grounds.

Why would anyone hesitate to pass this bill?

Well, because they want to have sex with their wife while she’s unconscious! (Which is rape, just so we’re clear.) “If an individual has sex with their wife while she is unconscious … a prosecutor could then charge that spouse with rape, theoretically,” said Rep. Brian Greene, R-Pleasant Grove. Yup, that’s exactly right, Mr. Greene. That husband should be charged with sexual assault, because he doesn’t have free rein over his wife’s body. Greene went on to question whether sex with an unconscious person is “rape in every instance.” 

Rep. Greene wasn’t the only offensive blowhard in the conversation, Representative LaVar Christensen (R-Draper) chalked the whole discussion up by saying, “It’s an uncomfortable discussion to even have.” Do you know what’s more uncomfortable than discussing sexual assault? Being sexually assaulted, which is why the bill is being proposed!

The State of Utah has a serious sexual assault problem that needs to be addressed. In Utah 1 in 3 women will experience sexual assault, and rape is the only category of violent crime that outpaces national averages in Utah.  We need HB74, and if it wasn’t clear before, the conversation yesterday crystallized the need.

Some closing points to remember:

1. You don’t own your spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, intimate partner, etc.. You do not have the right to sexual access of your intimate partner whenever you see fit.

2. Consent is not a one-time transaction. Someone who has sex with you once doesn’t have to have sex with you again.

3. Consent is ongoing. You should receive verbal and physical cues from your sexual partner throughout your sexual interaction.

4. Consent to one sexual act does not mean consent to another (agreeing to penile vaginal contact doesn’t mean you have consent for penile anal contact).

5. We vote for these people. Remember their names during the election. Should these guys be in charge of decisions?

You can follow the bill here as it heads out of committee.

Hey, Allstate Insurance, Voyeurism Isn’t Funny

(Transcript after the article)

While someone will definitely accuse us of “overacting,” we need to discuss this commercial.  Allstate’s advertisement shows two adult men (one who is a father) watching three young boys peer into a neighbor woman’s window with binoculars. The boys are supposedly “up there day and night,” entranced by all of the delightful things they see.

The intent is a funny commercial, but the result is tacit acceptance of sexual harassment. 

It isn’t funny for young boys to peer into the windows of a woman’s home (the implication being that she is naked while they watch). It sure wouldn’t be funny if they were adults. It wouldn’t be funny if they were watching a fellow child undress, but that is how Allstate situates it.

If we allow these “funny” messages to permeate the airwaves, where do we draw the line?

At what age is it creepy instead of cute for someone to peer into their neighbor’s with binoculars (answer: it is never cute)?

The bumbling dad (an unfortunate caricature of fathers in the media) goes to “get the hose,” but he doesn’t express disappointment, embarrassment, or urgency. Parents should be disappointed when children violate the privacy of others. They should feel embarrassed they didn’t teach their children better, and they should urgently try to impart better judgment on their impressionable children–that’s what a responsible father would do.

Peering into someone’s house without their permission isn’t cute, it is creepy, and Allstate should know better.

Transcript:

“Not bad. This tree has deep roots. Strong limbs. Things are perched, and not pinned. Nicely done.” -Carter Oosterhouse (C.O.)

“The boys love it. They are up there day and night.” -Dad (D)

“Well that might be because you overlooked one thing.”-C.O.

“What?”-D

“It looks into your neighbor’s window.”-C.O.

“Oh boy.”-D

“Hellloooo Mrs. Kazlowscki”-The kids as they peer into the neighbor’s house

“Boys! I’m gonna get the hose…”-D

Steubenville’s Guilty Verdict: Troubling Coverage and Our Hope for the Victim

*Trigger Warning*

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have probably heard about the Steubenville rape trial. Trent Mays and Ma’Lik Richmond were found guilty Sunday morning of  repeatedly sexually assaulting a young woman, then circulating naked pictures of her. National coverage ignited when troubling pictures, videos, and text messages surfaced during and after the incident (the victim is completely incapacitated in one photo, being carried out by her wrists and ankles). From the beginning the coverage of the case has been nothing short of troubling. Reports are focusing on the future of the boys, the town’s reputation, and the success of a high school football team, not the fact that these two young men brutalized a human being.

Even with the guilty verdict the problematic coverage hasn’t ceased (we almost feel silly for imagining that it might).

CNN reporter Candy Crowley’s coverage of the verdict shamelessly focuses on the lives of the two boys, lamenting that “these two young men — who had such promising futures, star football players, very good students — literally watched as they believed their life fell apart.”  Um, hello?! Their lives fell apart?! They raped a girl, circulated pictures to their friends, and you wonder how their lives will be affected?

Mainstream coverage of the verdict is completely misguided, focusing on everything but the actual issue at hand. In case you are wondering, rape culture is the issue, not drinking or social media. Where is the coverage about consent and prevention? (It’s mostly in the feminist blogosphere.)

The media could have used this case as a teachable moment. Surprise! They didn’t.

All of the crappy coverage aside, this is our hope for Jane Doe.

Our Hope for Jane Doe

  •  We hope that she has access to anything and everything she needs to move on from this devastating incident.
  • We hope that she has access to adequate counseling and a strong social support group.
  • We hope that she has people telling her from every corner that this is not her fault.
  • We hope she knows that she is not to blame for anything that happened.
  • We hope for the day when she self-identifies as a survivor.

But our greatest hope is that society takes a critical look at rape culture and starts making some serious changes, because all of the self-care in the world can’t turn back time and make her rape go away.