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Monday, June 21, 2010

South African doctor uholds rape myths with "rape-fighting" condom

Ok peeps, this is seriously HORRIBLE. On the one hand, I have to hand it to Dr. Sonnet Ehler's for deliberately taking action against rape in South Africa, which is commendable; on the other hand I want to slap her upside the head for perpetuating the stranger rape scenario! The only way this would effectively prevent (let's be honest, it doesn't technically prevent ANYTHING) rape is if women walked around 24/7 with one of these babies up their vaginas. WTF! Once again, here's a solution from a well-meaning individual who hasn't taken the time to educate themselves on the facts of sexual assault. It's like college administrators who put up more lighting outside after the number of reported rapes increases in their Cleary Report: it assumes that the rapes are committed by someone the survivor doesn't know and/or already trust. 80% of all rapes are perpetrated by someone the survivor knows!! On that point alone, this "rape-fighting" condom is basically proven to be worthless.

In addition, this device limits the definition of rape to penile penetration of a vagina. This is incredibly problematic because it doesn't recognize all the other ways a person can be raped (digitally, anally, etc). Also, it only allows cis-women to be victims and cis-men to be perpetrators, which is just plain inaccurate. What about transgendered women who may not have vaginas? What about women perpetrators? You do not have to have a penis to be a rapist (god I hope that's the last time I ever have to write that sentence...).

The only good thing about this invention is that it is IMPOSSIBLE (or so they say) to remove the condom without a doctor's assistance, so if a cis-woman is wearing it and is raped vaginally by a cis-man, THEN it is a pretty good piece of evidence to have if a survivor files a police report against the perp (no word on whether or not it would even be admissible as evidence in a court of law). Too bad that she would STILL HAVE TO BE RAPED, and suffer the physical/psychological/social consequences, in order for this "rape-fighting" condom to even be useful. Not cool.

Nice try Dr. Sonnet Ehlers, but no gadget will substitute for good old-fashioned education and targeted rape prevention campaigns. In summation, "rape-fighting" condom: probably not very good at fighting rape.

UPDATE: Feministing's original and follow-up posts on Rape-aXe. Apparently it had made the rounds in the media years ago, wonder why it's coming up again?

Friday, June 18, 2010

On being in public

A few days ago I decided to stop in at a local grocery store on my way home from work and deposit my paycheck at the ATM there. Spur of the moment, but whatevs, I live on the edge ok?? So I park, walk into the grocery store and there's a middle-aged white guy using the ATM. I wait awkwardly (there isn't much space to just hang out, the ATM is located RIGHT at the entrance to the grocery store and I had to keep moving to get out of people's way as they entered/left), and the guy tries to engage me. He says something like "I'll only be a few more minutes, I swear." I was texting on my phone by this time, so I just kinda murmured in agreement, not really paying attention or even caring. I obviously wasn't interested in any witty banter with this dude, and I thought I made myself clear. Then a few seconds later, he says something to the effect of "See?? All done!" at which point was my cue to ... chuckle? give him a cookie? reward him for his ability to accurately predict how long his ATM transactions take? I gave him a painful wince and refused to make eye contact as he walked away. This was a relatively minor incident, nothing horrendous was said, no one was hurt, but it sure is annoying as fuck. What I don't get is, why when I (and most women) are in public, is it expected that our autonomy/personal space/right to zone out can be violated just... because? No reason at all, he just thought that I should engage with him, because I'm a nice girl and nice girls always give a smile when a guy engages them. But... I didn't really want to have anything to do with him, it wasn't anything personal (honestly, I hate going out in public alone, and I hate having to interact with people I don't know. It's stressful for me ok?!) but he just HAD to go and test that boundary anyway. It wasn't enough to just let me wait and text in peace; he had to talk to me and WOOHOO let me know that he was there. OMG a white man is standing right in front of you!! You should be paying attention young lady!!

Ugh. This is an everyday thing for me, to be honest. Just walking around my place of work results in all kinds of awkward intrusions on my private ruminations by men (it's a college campus! I'm not even on the street!*) And it's so fucking normalized that I'm the rude one for not responding to them bothering me. I think men don't understand what it's like to just BE in public and have people constantly try to talk to you or stare at you or compare your body to those of your companions or to have your ass loudly remarked upon in a crowd of people as if you can't even hear the fucker right behind you. It's harassment, and I'm sick of it. I'm sick of feeling like "Shit, I don't want to go to the [insert public location here] alone, I'm gonna end up in some awkward sitch again and I'm going to feel responsible for it." I'm just trying to go about my day, people! Why can't I buy groceries or take a walk to the park or lay out on the beach without some asswipe insisting on making conversation with me? Am I so irresistible?? Am I REALLY that interesting?? Or is it because I look like I couldn't seriously be LESS excited about you following me to my car and repeatedly asking me for a date that you decided to do just that. People like this, people with no respect for boundaries, people who feel the need to assert themselves on others in public, people who MUST BE PAID ATTENTION TO DAMNIT, they are a glaring example of rape culture. No one has the right to another person's smile or conversation in public. No one has the right to bother or harass another person, to elicit a reaction, to make themselves feel better by forcing a stranger to engage with them in conversation. And I, for one, will continue to thwart these douches and their attempts to intrude on my public space by being as bitchy and unfriendly as possible :D

*I'm not trying to imply that "The Street" is any more dangerous, but that generally people have perceptions that this kind of stuff does not happen on private christian college campuses. This is a widespread myth that only perpetuates rape culture further, and prevents us from seeing it and addressing it.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Getting back on track

Ok, so it's been awhile since I've written anything around here. Mostly because my life has been all over the place as of late! I had family visiting and I've been working a LOT and I've had job interviews up the wazoo and I've been wasting plenty o' time with this guy who I have no clue how he feels about me. Essentially, I've been busy.

One of the things that has kept me occupied has been watching re-runs of My So-Called Life on Hulu. It's way before my time (I was what... 9 years old?? too young for that shit) but at the same time I totally feel nostalgia for the clothes and the music and the iunno ISSUES of the 90s. Also, since not only have I never actually watched the show, it turns out I'm glad I didn't because there is some heavy stuff going on! I'm only on epi 3 of season 1 and already... 2 sexual assaults, several other assaults, underage drinking, talks about sex and sexuality... phew! I would have been in way over my head and most likely, I would have been Judgy McJudgerson on all the characters. I'm kind of surprised about how much Claire Danes' character, Angela Chase, is put through. It's almost like the writers wanted to torture a 15 year-old girl... almost. I think I'll probably write more about My So-Called Life as I watch the later epis, lots of stuff to deconstruct AND it's entertainment! Bonus.