Tag Archives: Rape culture

Rape Culture and Sports

28 Oct

View from Venus column, October 18th, by Abby Finkelman. This is the column I am least satisfied with, because it really needed more examples, and numbers, and I simply didn’t have the space to give them. Still, I hope it provokes some thought. It is also, as always, available on the Chronicle website.

Sports and the Culture of Rape

If you want to harass, assault, or rape a woman, I suggest being an athlete. Not only will people be inclined to believe you when you deny it, they’ll help out by calling your accuser a slut, insisting that she must have wanted it, and possibly sending her death threats.You don’t have to be big time. Just a local star will do. Like the high school cheerleader in Texas who was kicked off the squad after refusing to cheer the name of the boy who raped her. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed her lawsuit as “frivolous” and is requiring her to pay the school’s $45,000 in legal fees. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

Lisa Olson won her suit against the NFL after she was harassed by New England Patriots players. But I’m guessing the $65,000 the team and players were fined was cold comfort to her after the award-winning sports journalist had to leave the Boston Herald and move to Sydney because of the death threats, slashed tires, and burglarized apartment. Yes: a woman was sexually harassed while doing her job, and when she told the public about it the response was to send her death threats.

That was in 1990. In 2010, Inés Sainz, a reporter for Mexico’s TV Azteca was harassed in the locker room of the New York Jets. Sainz is, well, a very attractive woman. And she dresses, well, the way very attractive women are encouraged to dress. And so when NFL players ogled her and made lewd comments, she was blamed. Her looks and her clothing were the story. When I quickly Googled her, the first hit was Wikipedia. And the second was from bleacherreport.com, a piece titled “20 Most Distracting Sideline Reporters Ever,” featuring a slideshow of “some of the most distractingly hot sideline reporting ladies ever”.

I just wrote a paragraph about Kobe Bryant, and then deleted it, because I don’t want to get sued for libel. So I won’t comment on whether or not I think it’s likely that the woman who accused him of rape dropped her case because of the things people were saying about her in the press (that she was a gold digging famewhore, for instance), and because of the death threats she was receiving, and because she didn’t like having her character and mental health dragged through the mud on television (not that it matters if she has lots of sex or is bipolar). And since I’m not calling him a rapist, I won’t say that it’s rape culture that allows this to happen.

That’s an extra layer of problematic, there. Ranks close around these stars–the University of Washington football team in 2000 is a good example; they covered up numerous crimes by numerous athletes, including a violent rape, because, the head coach said said “[w]e don’t give up on a player because he makes one mistake”–and even accusing them of rape requires money, because they don’t just have fans willing to slash your tires. They have legal teams.

I don’t know what it is about sports that encourages the tropes of rape culture. It affects other sorts of celebrities (Roman Polanski comes to mind), but sports culture and rape culture are deeply linked. I suspect it’s a combination of the team effect, rabid fans, and a generally “macho” atmosphere, and lawsuits (if you can afford them) aren’t going to change any of that. What will is simple, really. The fans, the players, and the management just have to decide that women’s rights–human rights–are more important than winning.


Backlash, and sweeping it under the rug

28 Oct

If you’ve been reading The View from Venus for the past four weeks, you know that I wrote four columns about  rape culture this month. For the most part, the response to them has been positive. Except for this:

If you can’t read it, here’s the text:

To Abby Finkelman,
Grow up, gain an ADULT female perspective. If you choose to dress like a trollop, Drink like a trollop, surrounded by 20 year old testosterone, which ejaculates in two to four minutes of intercourse then you are the fool,
You are the very type of woman who becomes a mom who puts her daughter in beauty pageants, then wonders why your child is being stalked by a pedophile.
You are what you eat.
Rape is about power.
A dress up to your crotch, in a drinking environment, is about you on a power trip.
If you don’t want to give out your candy, then don’t put it on the porch (an analogy of course).
Your a victim if you choose to be.
Your behavior reflects who you are.
Be a woman, act like a woman and respect yourself as a woman.
          One Man’s Perspective

Not the nicest stuff anyone has ever said to me. And I’m baffled by the part about beauty pageants–I’m a feminist, pretty openly so, and feminists don’t usually do beauty pageants. But, whatever, I guess this guy doesn’t actually know what he’s talking about.

I’m partly amused, to be honest. The clear lack of understanding of what I wrote about is almost funny. But only “almost”, because this letter means that there is a man on the St. Rose campus who thinks that if a woman wears a short skirt to a party it’s okay to rape her. That’s pretty much what I’m getting from it. That there’s a man who, rather than saying, “Gosh, since men can wear what they want to parties and get wasted and not worry about being raped, women should be able to as well” says that a woman who does that is a fool. That frightens me.

It frightens me that this person is out there. It frightens me that I don’t know who he is. Evidentially, having an “ADULT” perspective doesn’t include signing your name. If he had, I would be happy to talk to him. Admittedly, I haven’t had a lot of space to make my points. Perhaps I wasn’t clear on something. But I don’t think he wants discourse. I think he wants to spew hate and misogyny and violence. I hope I’m wrong, and if he’s reading this, and wants to have actual dialogue, I hope he contacts me.

I’m not supposed to have this letter. Someone found it on the ground. It had, I’m told, “The St. Rose Chronicle, re: Abby Finkelman” on the back. It was given to a member of SEB, who took a picture of it on their phone and gave it to the executive editor of the Chronicle. The editor then disposed of it. I was not informed of its existence. I was not informed that someone was writing angry things about me, nor was I informed that someone on this campus thinks it’s okay to rape women in short skirts.

I found out about the letter because someone who had the picture sent it to someone else who showed me. When I asked the Chronicle about it, I was told that their policy is to not publish or share anonymous, slanderous letters. I’ve requested a copy of that policy, but have yet to see it. Regardless, I’m fairly certain that by beginning the letter “To Abby Finkelman”, the anonymous author intended for me to receive it. I assume he doesn’t know where I live (I hope he doesn’t, certainly), and thought that giving it to the Chronicle was the best way to get it to me. I doubt he’s familiar with their policies; I know that I would have presumed that a letter clearly addressing a person would be passed on to that person.

Aside from that, this letter is exactly what I’m talking about. My columns were largely abstract. This is concrete. This is someone at The College of St. Rose saying that if a woman wears a short skirt to a party, she’s asking for it. And this letter was swept under the rug. One person, the executive editor, decided that it wasn’t worth dealing with. No one else was informed about its existence, not the opinion editor, not the Chronicle advisor, and definitely not me. I don’t think that’s right. Yes, publishing slander isn’t okay. But this letter is what I’m writing about. This letter is my point. The author of this letter is a real person, right here, saying the things I’m saying. Pretending that this stuff is abstract, or only happening somewhere else, won’t lead to change.

I respect the Chronicle‘s decision not to print the letter, if not its decision to keep it from me. But I’m very glad that someone felt I deserved to know, because this blog is not a newspaper. We don’t have to follow set standards about printing anonymous slander. I’m putting this up here, I’m putting it on Facebook, I’m telling my friends that this is what’s out there. This is what’s on our campus. Whether you choose to fight it or you choose to hide it, it’s there.

What I said earlier, about hoping that the author contacts me for a discussion still stands. But I also hope that if the author won’t come forward, someone who knows him does. I hope that someone says, “No. This isn’t right. It isn’t right to say those things, and it isn’t right to hide when you do.” No one should be allowed to remain anonymous while telling women that when they’re assaulted and raped they are choosing to be victims. And if we don’t know who “One Man” is, he could be anyone. He could be your brother, your boyfriend, your friend. He could be standing next to you. He could be at the next party you go to, talking to you, thinking that you’re a “trollop” who deserves what you get.

Depp Apologizes for “Poor Choice of Words”

10 Oct

When Depp wants to apologize for perpetuating the rape culture by engaging in rape apologia and using the language of sexual violence as his casual metaphor, then I’ll be ready to accept his apology.

via Shakesville: Depp Apologizes for “Poor Choice of Words”.

I’ll be posting rape culture-related things I see all month. Because I like this blog to be FUN and HAPPY.