rape

Rape Fuel (Anheuser-Busch InBev Promo Mix)

Detail of photo by Nita Lowey, 28 April 2015.

One really should not need a list of reasons to avoid drinking Bud Light. That is, the fact that it is Bud Light ought to be enough. Yet, as Stephanie Strom’s report for the New York Times makes clear, we can add another reason to that list:

A new label on some bottles of Bud Light, one of the brands owned by the beer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev, is falling flat among women, a demographic group the industry has been desperately courting in hopes of jump-starting flagging sales of suds.

In a continuation of its “Up for Whatever” campaign, a wide blue band low on the label says, “The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night.”

Alexander Lambrecht, vice president of Bud Light, acknowledged, “It’s clear that this message missed the mark”.

This is unacceptable. Consider the idea of a simple mistake, and then consider the idea of being a massive corporation with a marketing department, lawyers, and all that. And while the “pumpkin peach” gaffe Strom notes about a Bud Light advert for a sporting event reminds what we already knew about AB-InBev being pathetically inattentive to reality, there really is no excuse. However many valences of review this campaign went through, we are supposed to believe that nobody at AB InBev noticed the problem?

“Missed the mark” is beyond inappropriate. And Mr. Lambrecht’s expression of regret misses ears not deaf but unwilling to sit for this manner of odious lie.

“We would never,” Mr. Lambrecht explained, “condone disrespectful or irresponsible behavior”. And it’s true; Bud Light would rather promote Rape Culture.

Perhaps they should rebrand the entire product, and instead of “Bud Light” just call it what it is: Rape Fuel.

____________________

Image note: Detail of photo by Nita Lowey, via Twitter, 28 April 2015.

Strom, Stephanie. “Bud Light Withdraws Slogan After It Draws Ire Online”. The New York Times. 28 April 2015.

An American Disgrace

Justice is blind ... just kidding. No, really, did you read the Sixth Circuit ruling? Jaded eyes, jaded eyes ....

“Almost seven years ago, a troubled 11-year-old girl reported that she had been raped―twice―in her Northwest Washington neighborhood. Despite medical evidence of sexual assault, records show that no suspects were arrested and the cases were given only sporadic attention by the police. Instead, in the second case, the police had the girl ... charged with filing a false report.”

Joanna Walters

Let us be blunt: Why do we try so hard to aid and abet rapists?

Try it this way: Every rape survivor is a victim; not every victim survives. There are enough in our society who resent the survivors so deeply that they will labor to continue victimization.

Perhaps law enforcement in D.C. envies the rapists, since the best police seem able to do is taking part after the fact.

Consider that this one case has been going on for seven years

Last fall, after inquiries from The Washington Post, the department launched new investigations into the cases and the way they were handled, according to the Bests and a law enforcement officer familiar with the matter.

―but it’s only when the press is sniffing out the trail that―

The Bests say that after The Post approached the police, [DC Police Chief Cathy L.] Lanier telephoned the family to apologize.

Still, the department refusess to confirm any of this is going on.

It is a hard story to read. It is a discouraging story, too. The thought occurs, “And yet we are expected to give law enforcement our unequivocal support”, but then dances away in shame because, really, are we really going to dredge up the bit about how the police expect “unequivocal support” for their actions?

And, yes, this is a discussion Americans need to be having.

What support do we owe law enforcement when it aids and abets rape?

And, yes, this becomes political, too. What happens in D.C. falls under Congressional purview. Let us see if the Republican bicameral majority has what it takes to govern, or if they will just let this one go as their silent―(“We gave at the office”)―contribution to rape culture.

This is unacceptable. Yet this is what we do, and this is how we do it.

A child is raped, throw her in jail. How do we begin accounting for everything wrong about this outcome?

This is America. And this is a disgrace.

____________________

Walters, Joanna. “An 11-year-old reported being raped twice, wound up with a conviction”. The Washington Post. 12 March 2015.

Baltimore police union releases statement on NYPD shootings”. 21 December 2014.

Required Reading

Artwork by Nick Scott for Vice.com, February 2015.

“I hadn’t really cried for him with anyone—I’d cried alone, obviously, but this was the first time I’d broken down in front of a friend. ‘Fuck,’ I said. ‘My boyfriend raped me.'”

Anonymous

It is a depressing read. It is also required reading.

Well, you know, inasmuch as required reading can exist under these circumstances.

Still, though, read.

I would plead with anyone who’s been sexually assaulted in similar circumstances to tell someone you trust, and don’t ever, ever pretend that it’s not a big deal. Context is irrelevant if you’ve said “no.” These things might happen in the dark, but they should never be kept that way.

____________________

Image note: Detail of artwork by Nick Scott for Vice.com, February, 2015.

Anonymous. “Rape Happens in Gay Relationships Too”. Vice. 23 February 2015.

Dr. Ben Carson

In March, Ben Carson spoke at the Conservative Political Action Committee conference. (Credit Susan Walsh/Associated Press)

In today’s chapter, we look to a report from David McCabe of The Hill, documenting what appears to be neurosurgeon, conservative activist, and presumptive 2016 GOP presidential contestant Ben Carson advocating war crimes.

While being interviewed on Fox News’s “America’s Newsroom” by Bill Hemmer, Carson was asked about the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

“And our military needs to know that they’re not going to be prosecuted when they come back because somebody has said you did something that was politically incorrect,” he said.

“There’s no such thing as a politically correct war. We need to grow up. We need to mature. If you’re going to have rules for war, you should just have a rule that says no war. Other than that, we have to win. Our life depends on it.”

Carson did not specify what he meant by “politically incorrect” behavior.

It is easy enough to cheer the proposition of a “no war” rule, but good doctor would still need to explain how our lives depended on invading Iraq.

Ladies and gentlemen, Ben Carson.

____________________

McCabe, David. “Ben Carson: No rules against ‘politically incorrect’ acts of war”. The Hill. 16 February 2015.

The Republican Obsession

To: American Republicans

re: Rape obsession

"'Obviously rape is awful...' says Delegate Brian Kurcaba, R-Monongalia. 'What is beautiful is the child is that could come from this.'" (David Gutman, 5 February 2015)

Please stop.

Now.

Look, I don’t know what it is you think you’re up to, but at some point the rest of society has to take you seriously. That is to say, as we witness the parade of elected Republicans taking their turns tugging on Excalibur, each hoping to be the first to finally convince us to look at the redeeming side of rape, there comes a point where we have to accept that you really do want us to find an upside to sexual violence.

So just stop.

“Republican” is fast becoming one of those words that sets off alarms in people’s heads: Republicans should not be trusted around children.

That’s what it comes to. You send rape abettors to Congress? Yeah, that’s what it comes to. You want us to reflect on the beauty of rape? That’s what it comes to: You are a danger to society, and especially our society’s most vulnerable.

So, you know … just … stop.

____________________

Gutman, David. “Obviously, rape is awful …”. Twitter. 5 February 2015. Twitter.com. 10 February 2015.

Not Exactly the Moral of the Story

"U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks in Washington on Dec. 2, 2014." (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Compartmentalization. Equivocation. Misdirection.

Watch the birdie.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has once again dug himself a hole, and yes, he’s annoyed that anyone noticed:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Wednesday continued to walk back his comments that parents should be allowed to choose whether to vaccinate their children, saying he holds the same position as President Barack Obama on the matter.

“I got annoyed that people were trying to depict me as someone who doesn’t think vaccines were a good idea,” Paul told Fox News host Greta Van Susteren on Wednesday, noting that he had been vaccinated before a recent trip to Guatemala and had vaccinated his children.

“I’m not sure I’m different from the president or anyone else on the position,” Paul said. “We have rules to encourage people to have vaccines in the country, but I don’t think anybody’s recommending that we hold them down.”

(Levine)

Did you catch that?

(more…)

Seething, Useless, Petty Rage

Okay, in the first place, yes, there is obviously something amiss.

The Salon article itself is by Kendall Anderson, and bears a familiar, queasy sentence for a headline: “I wish I’d never reported my rape”. It is, of course, as depressing as you might expect; and it is also another one of those pieces that ought to be some sort of required reading.

I sit in the windowless interrogation room, fingers brushing against the cool metal of handcuffs attached to the chair, and try to comprehend what the detective sitting across from me is asking.

Salon.com“Were you a virgin?” he says, his lips curling slightly as he repeats the question. “Explain to me, how could you have been bleeding if you weren’t on your period? Have you had sex before?”

I feel my face flush with embarrassment as I think about how to respond. Before I can say anything, there’s a knock at the door and another officer walks in.

“The suspect’s attorney is here.”

Suspect? My stomach drops. Did he really just refer to me as a suspect?

The detective turns to his colleague.

“She agreed not to have the lawyer come in for this.”

I open my mouth to object. Our “agreement” consisted of the detective asking me why I needed a lawyer if I was innocent. Before I can speak, the other officer leaves, the door closes and it’s just me and the detective again, alone in the windowless room.

There are so many things to say at this point.

(more…)

A Note About Rape Culture

Bill Cosby performing in Melbourne, Fla., on Friday, 21 November 2014. (Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)

Marc Lamont Hill offers a useful primer on the idea of rape culture:

Over the past few weeks, new attention has been paid to longstanding allegations that Bill Cosby sexually assaulted multiple women over the course of his career. As new information and accusers are brought to light, we are reminded of an unshakable feature of American life: rape culture.

By “rape culture,” I refer to the ways that our society and its institutions normalize, promote, excuse, and enable sexual violence against men and women. While I cannot definitively say that Cosby is guilty of the crimes of which he is accused, the conversation about him epitomizes some of the most pernicious aspects of rape culture.

There are reasons assertions of rape culture are controversial, and it is important to recognize the two primary drivers of objections to the concept of rape culture are pride and, well, it would sound weird to say “capitalism”, and that isn’t quite right, but it has to do with opportunity and reward.

In the first place, rape culture isn’t something to be proud of; our contributions to such outcomes are often conditioned behavior, and in the end, even if we carry conscious misogyny, it is not like we would admit we have wrong ideas. Nobody enjoys self-indictment.

The second is the idea of a marketplace hungry for comfort. And this downright sounds silly until one pauses to consider the idea of men’s rights advocacy, and the basic controversy about what that phrase actually means. Paul Constant of The Stranger reminded earlier this year that there are fewer of these types than we tend to imagine, but “those few activists are exactly as terrible as you think”.

He referred to an event in Michigan earlier this year, the first “International Conference on Men’s Issues”, and for those hoping that such a gathering might produce something more than the usual misogyny we hear from this manner of asserting men’s rights, well, more fool you. Or, perhaps, in the context of a marketplace hungry for comfort:

The crowd broke out in laughter when one speaker suggested most alleged rapes on college campuses are fabricated.

“The vast majority of female students allegedly raped on campus are actually voicing buyer’s remorse from alcohol-fueled promiscuous behavior involving murky lines of consent on both sides,” said Barbara Kay, a columnist for Canada’s National Post. “It’s true. It’s their get-out-of-guilt-free card, you know like Monopoly.”

† † †

Janet Bloomfield, an anti-feminist blogger and spokeswoman for the conference, has suggested in the past that the age of consent be reduced to 13 because of a “mistake of age” can get unwitting men in trouble.

“The point being that it can be incredibly difficult to know, just by looking at someone, how old they are,” Bloomfield wrote, calling some teenage girls “fame whores.” Bloomfield also called protesters of the event, “Wayne State cunts.”

In a marketplace society, you can always find someone willing to sell what other people want. One of the foremost purveyors of what this market wants to hear is Wendy McElroy who wrote earlier this year:

April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, and it will be used to promote a big lie — namely, that we live in a “rape culture.”

Such an approach is not helpful, especially when it relies entirely on fallacy:

The idea that America is a rape culture is a particularly vicious big lie, because it brands all men as rapists or rape facilitators. This lie has been successful despite reality.

And there you have it. To the one, no national culture is monolithic; to the other, the only person asserting that “America is a rape culture” would be Ms. McElroy, in the course of building a windmill to tilt.

(more…)

A Falling Star

Comedian Bill Cosby speaks at the Jackie Robinson Foundation annual Awards Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. (Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s over.

While The Washington Post has fallen somewhat from its glory days as one of the nation’s newspapers of record, it’s hard to ignore the coincidence of the masthead and Paul Farhi’s rhetoric:

Bill Cosby’s dazzling, decades-long career as one of America’s most beloved entertainers appeared to be toppling this week amid a succession of allegations painting Cosby as a serial sexual predator.

On Wednesday, NBC — the network that roared back to television supremacy in the 1980s thanks to Cosby’s warmhearted family sitcom — joined the list of entertainment companies and TV programs that have abandoned projects or distanced themselves from the 77-year-old comedian and actor amid the cascade of shocking headlines.

And Farhi’s headline for the paper’s Style Blog (?!) is grim: “As NBC distances itself from Bill Cosby, a decades-long career crumbles”.

(more…)

Howard F#cking Kurtz

Accused serial rapist Bill Cosby.

The story so far … or, not really.

Comedy icon Bill Cosby apparently can no longer hide from serial rape allegations that have haunted him for decades. Over at Huffington Post, Jason Linkins is having a hard time figuring out why Howard Kurtz is having a hard time figuring out what people’s problem with Cosby might be:

Kurtz’s contention here is that “liberals” have abandoned Cosby because they do not care for his brand of racial respectability politics, while “conservatives” aren’t so sure whether to believe the rape allegations. That’s pretty unkind to “conservatives,” from whom no mass movement has arisen to leave their daughters alone with the doddering former “Cosby Show” star. It’s also unkind to “liberals,” whom Kurtz assumes are rejecting Cosby because of his racial politics rather than because he seems to be a rapist.

Three words for Mr. Linkins: Howard Fucking Kurtz.

(more…)