Some topics are so overdone in our real lives that they just shouldn't find their way into entertainment. The term "legitimate rape" is one of those, but that didn't stop Law & Order SVU from using it for their episode airing tonight.
After a woman is raped by a co-worker and becomes pregnant, she presses on with her rape charge even though she has chosen to keep the child. They really did pull the whole plot from the headlines, didn't they? Not just Todd Akin's comments, but the whole "child of rape" thing, too.
The rape caucus of the 2012 election gets its close-up tomorrow night, when Law & Order: Special Victims Unit airs its "legitimate rape" episode. Judging from the promo clip, Todd Akin's campaign-sinking term is ripped from the headlines and pasted into a very different context: an expert witness explaining why a pregnant plaintiff could not have been raped. (Boooo.) Mariska Hargitay's eye-roll, however, has ways of shutting that whole thing down.
This feels unnecessary to me. It just perpetuates a debate that isn't one at all. I realize everyone is out to make a buck or two, but surely there's got to be an original thought in one of their pretty heads.
Here (above) is the C&L video that rocked CNN's world and caused all the ruckus last Sunday. Candy Crowley, and especially Poppy Harlow are shocked -- SHOCKED -- that anyone would call them rape apologists because of the tone of their reporting. That tells me they're tone-deaf.
Meanwhile two insiders at CNN exclusively told TheWrap that the controversy had hit reporter Poppy Harlow, covering the events in Steubenville, particularly hard.
“Poppy is taking this extremely personally as a woman,” said one executive. “She’s outraged that someone would think she’d do such a thing” as slant her coverage toward rapists. “It’s gotten so out of control.”
The outrage stemmed from Harlow standing outside the courtroom after the verdicts were read on Sunday, visibly moved by watching the young men collapse at the news of conviction. “I’ve never experienced anything like it,” she said on the air. “It’s incredibly emotional, even for an outsider like me. These two young men, with promising futures, star football players, A students, literally watched as their lives fell apart.”
Shortly after the guilty verdict in the Steubenville rape case was announced, Candy Crowley took to the airwaves to report it and connect with their reporter on the ground for more details. Her lead-in to the remote shot was shameful.
Crowley was filled with sadness for two young men who took advantage of a drunk and possibly drugged young girl because the judge actually held them accountable for what they did. Instead of wondering aloud why they weren't tried as adults, she was instead very concerned that now they would have to register for the rest of their lives as sex offenders.
They are sex offenders. And now they're convicted sex offenders. If Crowley doubts the lightness of their sentence in the overall larger picture, consider the statement this morning from Attorney General Mike DeWine, viaThe Atlantic Wire
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, saying that "this community needs assurance that no stone has been left unturned in our search for the truth," announced at a press briefing at Jefferson County Juvenile Court "that we cannot bring finality to this matter without the convening of a grand jury," which he said would convene on or around April 15. "I anticipate numerous witnesses will be called. The grand jury, quite frankly, could meet for a number of days," DeWine said, adding that "indictments could be returned and additional charges could be filed." He mentioned failure to report a felony, tampering with evidence, and "others" as possible charges. He added that the boys who received immunity were likely to retain that right.
DeWine gave a sense of scale to his office's investigation: 13 cellphones, 396,270 text messages, 308,586 photos, 940 video clips, 3,188 phone calls, 16,422 cellphone contacts. And that was just the cyber-crimes division, which prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter said was brought in on the request of attorneys "after Anonymous hit," referring to the hackers who brought social-media attention to the case and "put enormous pressure" on the victim. DeWine also said the "appalling" case involved closed to 60 interviews, but that 16 people refused to talk to his investigators, and that his office was seeking finality in continuing court proceedings in the matter. "Most of the 16 are underage," DeWine said.
"This is not a happy time for anyone. No one can take any pleasure in this. Every rape is a tragedy. This is a tragedy," DeWine said, moving on to castigate rape culture in general. "This happens every Friday night," DeWine said. "We shouldn't tolerate it anymore as a country."
Nor should we shed any crocodile tears for these rapists, Candy.
Saturday evening both sides rested in the trial that sparked a firestorm of controversy over football, town loyalty and rape. The judge will announce a verdict from the bench at 10 AM this morning.
Testimony has been graphic and difficult to hear. Whatever the judge rules, the conduct of the teenagers was out of control and points to some larger issues with regard to how parents talk to their teenage boys and girls about sexual contact, rape, and consent.
In Saturday's testimony, the victim took the stand and testified that she didn't know what had even happened to her until friends (and I use the term loosely) told her what happened the next day. Some of the teens had posted photos and taken videos of some of the sexual activity, but deleted them later.
The conservatives in this country will not be happy until the entire country has turned into the fabled days of the Wild West, a literal and figurative Tombstone (like most of their nostalgia, it is rarely based in fact). It is an odd psychology, this need to blame victims. It's the poor's fault that they haven't succeeded. Those who suffer from chronic diseases and want to rely on universal health care are purposely not taking care of themselves. Those seniors should have planned better for their retirement so that Social Security benefits can be cut, for the betterment of future generations. And rape victims should most definitely be armed to prevent sexual assault.
And so it was in this looking glass world that Democratic strategist and rape survivor Zerlina Maxwell entered this week, appearing on the Hannity show with a radical notion: rather than tell women to avoid being raped, how about we teach men not to rape?
This is not without precedent. In Vancouver, an anti-rape campaign, Don't Be That Guy, actually saw number of sexual assaults drop the following year by 10%. And for a party that claims to be all about "personal responsibility," this would seem to be the most logical tactic to take. But then, when has Hannity been about logic?
Absolutely, sometimes the rapist is the guy with a ski mask who jumps out of an alley. And no, he doesn’t care about learning to be a better person. But Hannity’s offhand remark that “evil exists in the world” reduces the experience of rape to one particular type – the violent stranger attack. Absolutely, we need to continue to empower women to avoid high-risk situations, to get themselves out of them when they’re in them and to defend themselves however they best see fit. But when rape is overwhelmingly an act perpetrated by men upon women, we also sure as hell need to stop thinking of it exclusively in terms of what women have to do to prevent it. We need to involve men and boys. We need to remember, as a revealing Reddit thread last year proved, that a rapist can be your friend or your boyfriend or your co-worker. We need to acknowledge that a rapist can be your husband. That, as chilling as it is to admit, as Maxwell says, “Those kids in Steubenville were average guys.”
Maxwell says, “I don’t want anybody to lecture a rape survivor about anything. And I don’t want anybody telling women that if you don’t wear a skirt or don’t drink at all you’re going to be safe. That is a lie.” What she wants instead is more training, more dialogue and a process that is much longer and harder, and infinitely subtler, than just telling women to get a gun or not wear high heels. Maxwell says, “I knew that [doing "Hannity"] was going to be hard, but I did it because I knew that I wasn’t speaking just for myself. I’m not alone. Clearly, what we’ve been doing isn’t working. We’re telling women to be afraid of the person in the bushes when it’s the person in your house. We need a reality check. We’re talking about the wrong things. We’re asking the wrong questions.”
And if you're a Fox News viewer (or a reader of Glenn Beck's The Blaze, which did an article as well), you are apparently also internalizing the wrong message, because what happened to Maxwell after this appearance just proves how far we have yet to go:
In the wake of her appearance, Maxwell was bombarded with harassing messages calling for her to be raped or murdered, often in explicitly racist terms.
Jon Kyl needs to shut up and sit down because he's really not making things better for Mitt Romney. After Romney's gaffes with regard to the attack on our Libya embassy, Kyl just made them worse. In the process, he inadvertently slammed one of Jan Brewer's appointed judges.
“I don’t know if you’ve ever been involved in victims’ rights, but this is like a judge telling the woman that got raped, ‘you asked for it because of the way you dressed,’ ” Mr. Kyl said. “That’s the same thing. ‘Well America, you should be the ones to apologize. You should have known this would happen’,” he said. “For a member of our State Department to put out a statement like that, it had to be cleared by somebody. They don’t just do that at the spur of the moment.”
Just last week, a judge in Senator Kyl's home state told a woman who was groped by a drunk policeman that the policeman wasn't all that guilty, but she was because she dared to be in a bar. Seriously. Here's what she said:
"If you wouldn't have been there that night, none of this would have happened to you," Hatch said.
Every time I think Republicans won't surprise me, they do.
Via KMEG-TV,, here's the noted Congressman From the Planet Moron, Republican Steve King, weighing in on the controversy swirling around his friend and fellow paleo-conservative on abortion, Todd Akin:
King supports the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act." It would ban Federal funding of abortions except in cases of forcible rape. Right now, Medicaid also covers abortions for victims of statutory rape or incest - for example, a 12 year old who gets pregnant.
Congressman King says he's not aware of any young victims like that.
"Well I just haven't heard of that being a circumstance that's been brought to me in any personal way, and I'd be open to discussion about that subject matter," he said.
A Democratic source flagged King’s praise of Akin in the KMEG interview to TPM. But potentially more controversial for King is his suggestion that pregnancies from statutory rape or incest don’t exist or happen rarely. A 1996 review by the Guttmacher Institute found “at least half of all babies born to minor women are fathered by adult men.”
Let's dig that Republican hole a little deeper, shall we?
Of course, none of this is exactly a surprise for anyone who's been paying attention to Republican wisdom on Women's Parts. Nor is it a surprise coming from a guy who likes to compare immigrants to cattle and dogs, and who recently defended dog fighting. Dehumanization is becoming a Republican specialty, and Steve King is their ace.
With all the controversy over attacks on women's rights and slut-shaming of women in the media for daring to speak out for their rights, I have to wonder why Belvedere Vodka (@belvederevodka for those of you active in the Twitterverse) would come out with an ad showing a man grabbing a woman with a horrified look on her face from behind with the copy, "Unlike some people, Belvedere Vodka always goes down smoothly."
Unsurprisingly, people who find rape an unpersuasive marketing ploy for alcohol took offense and started tweeting Belvedere Vodka with their displeasure.
This sent Belvedere HQ scrambling—something that layers of bureaucratic approval might have mitigated before releasing the ad—and they released this statement:
I am Jason Lundy, SVP of Global Marketing for Belvedere. Unfortunately, a Facebook & Twitter posting was made today that has offended many of our fans and followers – and indeed the people who work here at Belvedere. The post is absolutely inconsistent with our values and beliefs and in addition to removing the offensive post we are committed to making sure that something like this doesn’t happen again. As an expression of our deep disappointment and regret, we are making a charitable donation to a women’s support cause. We deeply apologize to our fans & followers.
Gosh, I hope they're not donating money to Susan G. Komen. That would be really ironic.
I've been reading some pretty outraged comments online, most of them denouncing Moroccans as savages, inhuman, animals, etc. This is certainly a horrifying story and I can understand why people are so upset:
The suicide of a Moroccan teenager who reportedly had been forced to marry her rapist has spurred calls from around the world to change criminal laws long lamented by Moroccan feminists.
Human rights groups complain that Moroccan law has been interpreted to allow someone who rapes a minor to escape punishment if he marries the victim. Moroccan media reported that was what happened to Amina Filali, a 16-year-old who reportedly swallowed rat poison Saturday.
"It is unfortunately a recurring phenomenon," Fouzia Assouli, the president of the Democratic League for Women's Rights, told the Associated Press. "We have been asking for years for the cancellation of Article 475 of the penal code, which allows the rapist to escape justice.”
What kind of backwards patriarchal thinking reduces women — rape victims, even — to mere chattel, to be married off as a remedy for their family's honor? Don't be so quick to look down your nose, because that would also be that all-American favorite, the Bible. Deuteronomy 22:28-29:
If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.
So another desert tribe had pretty much the same law. Yes, but that was 2000 years ago! What kind of crazy people would try to impose ancient tribal rule on a modern society as its legal code? Just about any right-wing politician:
If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. -- Leviticus 20:13
I've always, you know, I believe and I think the right approach is to accept this horribly created— in the sense of rape—but nevertheless a gift in a very broken way, the gift of human life, and accept what God has given to you.
We don't know, so we had to imagine. Rick is still seen by some as a promising candidate, supportable by right wing fundamentalist leaders. This enthusiasm is only dampened by the fact that nobody outside of right wing fundamentalist leaders particularly gives a flying fuck about Rick Santorum.
But as his campaign flounders awkwardly along like—Oh, I dunno—a man-on-dog sexual pairing trying to jog mid-tryst, it's a good time to be reminded: There are piggish elements within our body politic who will always, always, always abuse women's rights for political gain. And that Rick Santorum's "google problem" was never just Dan Savage's brilliant gag, it has always been the things that he actually says and does.
Frothy lube may stain your futon, but Santorum stains the American political landscape—until such time as his well-established inability to win actual votes brings the Santorum slide to a messy end.