31 October 2008

Whose fault is it?

There are two conflicting beliefs surrounding who is at fault when a woman is raped. And they don't always fight to exist to the exclusion of the other. In one camp, the rapist is always at fault; in the other, the victim/survivor is at fault for one or various reasons she could have controlled.

I submit for your evaluation: Don't blind-drunk women who cry rape bear any responsibility for what happens to them?

"Don't women who get plastered beyond control have any responsibility for what happens to them?

Many women insist they have the right to wear and do whatever they like.

They say rape is a man's problem - and that's an end to it.


In so many of today's cases, alcohol has become the element that literally blurs the evidence.

Last year, a Welsh university student said she was raped by a campus guard asked to escort her to her dormitory because she was too inebriated to get home safely.

Two days later, she reported he'd had sex with her in the corridor outside her door.

He said it was consensual.

She said it wasn't.

The police believed her, and so did the prosecutor. So they went to trial.

But when the defence barrister challenged her to be specific, she simply couldn't remember.

The judge ordered the jury to acquit the defendant.

One observer noted: 'Drunken consent is still consent.'"

Which is the opposite of what I have taught my own students. I'm not sure what the law is in Britain, but in Canada, we err on the side of caution -- drunken consent is not consent. And I'll tell you, it made quite a few 15 year-old boys nervous, because plying a woman with alcohol in order to "loosen her up" so she'll "put out" is a common practice.

Let me be clear, the woman does not bear responsibility for a man forcible putting his penis in any orifice on her body. If at any point she says no, or -- just as important -- fails to say yes, it's rape. And if you lack the control to spend more time with her without trying again and again to get her to change her mind, you risk an accusation. Or worse, if you lack the control to keep from making her, you deserve an accusation.

Let's be fair, women don't always make this easy. We dress in high skirts and low tops. We dance and have fun. And unless people are going to start saying that a male deserves to get the shit kicked out of him if he decides to go out and get plastered, then we have no right to say that a woman deserves any level of violence that might be inflicted on her if she chooses to do the same.

Maybe everyone needs to kick up their level of personal responsibility and rethink the idea that getting wasted beyond control is an awesome thing to do. Until that happens, we need to stop saying that a woman is to blame for any kind of sexual attack perpetrated against her. Women can and should do everything they can to protect themselves from any form of attack. Men should remember that having sex with someone is not some kind of inalienable right. Deciding to drink alcohol does not create open season into a woman's vagina. Women should remember to be clear about their intentions, sexual or otherwise.

This is something to think about for women who plan on dressing up like a sexy nurse or slutty vampiress and going out to a bar to get loaded or for guys who hope to reap the benefits of this auspicious night.

Happy Hallowe'en.

30 October 2008

Quotable Quotes

If you aren't yet familiar with John McCain's use of air quotes to diminish the value of other people's views, here's an all-inclusive piece via The Daily Show that will enlighten you.

If you don't want to watch all nine minutes of the clip (you're automatically subjected to a short ad before the clip begins) jump to 5:45 for the relevant content.

29 October 2008

Ahead of the curve

Gee, willikers! I sure am glad my ancestors got on the wagon before the band piled on!

27 October 2008


I am not the first person to have ever made a choice or a decision based on the likes or dislikes of someone else. Recently, in a conversation about television shows with a couple of friends, an admission by one friend surfaced that he long ago decided not to like something his wife (the other friend) liked because, frankly, she liked it. A joke was made about she being like his mother and he a petulant teen.

I've done it too. I can probably name numerous situations where I argued against something I might have liked had I tried it. Instead, I chose an opposite position on the principle of... not agreeing?

I think sometimes such a decision is made quite reasonably. Something about the other persons argument sounds viscerally wrong and we need to disagree without understanding why. Sometimes that decision is made because it helps us assert some independence from the person with whom we're becoming increasingly intimate. I am, mainly, talking about choosing to like or dislike something that a partner dislikes or likes, respectively.

Some of my silly dislikes based on partners likes:
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer (specifically the TV show)
  • Battlestar Galactica
  • Dr. Who
  • Rage Against the Machine
  • Marijuana
  • Chronic drinking to excess
Okay, so not all of those are silly -- and there's a lot of sci-fi -- but, for good measure, some likes based on partners dislikes:
  • Spice Girls
  • Dixie Chicks
  • French anything (there are lots of French things I legitimately like, but have tended to over-emphasize because of partner dislike)
As recently as seven or eight months ago, I was asked to watch something by my then-boyfriend. He wanted to know how I felt about it so he could decide whether it was something we could watch together when he came back home, or if he should go ahead and watch it himself at his leisure. I agreed to check it out. I could definitely see some merit in it, and I knew exactly what he liked about it, but I wasn't sold. I quietly decided that I would check out a second episode before letting him know what I thought. Then we broke up.

"Well, that was easy," I thought to myself, "We are now broken up and I don't have to put myself through another episode."

"Put myself through"? That's an interesting choice of words for someone who hadn't decided for herself what she thought of something. See, what I think is worse than being contrary about something that someone close to us thinks or believes is deciding to not like something because someone we don't like (or who hurt us) likes. Why? Because we're giving that other person power over our choices. It might just be a cute (sometimes frustrating) game when we're friends or in a relationship with the other person, but when it's not a friend or partner -- rather an "enemy" or someone who hurt us badly -- we're allowing that person to influence us long after they should have any claim on us.

A couple of things have triggered this particular feeling from me. Firstly, a conversation with friends in Ontario about the awesomeness of Dr. Who. That was the first time I admitted why I initially didn't like the show and why I continued to avoid watching it. I later quizzed another friend on what I would like about it. I think something about strong female characters came up. Secondly, a blog post about Mad Men. That's the show I tried out a few months back. The post also talked about female characters.

Now, while the usage of females characters in television and movies are not the hinge reason whether I like something, it does matter to me because I'm a woman and a feminist. It's important to me that woman not always be portrayed as eye/arm-candy, sex objects, the weaker sex, etc. But I'm also a reasonable person who is willing to listen to arguments about why something is not what I think it is. And so I shall be giving Mad Men another try in the near future. Probably Dr. Who, too. Battlestar Galactica is a tougher sell.

It's silly to base a like or dislike on it being the opposite of someone. It's irrational. I'm going to try to do it less, because there are enough reasons why I like or dislike something. I don't need to create more divisive issues.

However, in rare exceptions, we should absolutely ignore the likes and dislikes of people close to us, and embrace contrariness in all its glory. As a parting thought for this blog, I submit to you the exception that proves the rule:

26 October 2008

The Girl Effect

It's not an uncommon theory to think that the world would be (and would have been) a better place with women in charge. I've always thought about how women are more likely to talk through problems and less likely to launch nuclear missiles at people they don't like. Now it turns out that there's a website promoting just such a concept: the power of girls.

Take a look:

Via feministing. This group is my Hero of the Week.

15 October 2008

If Monty Python scripted the US election....

My favourite part of this video is the outburst of laughter before John Cleese answers the question.

14 October 2008

Makes sense to me

I'm lovin' this ad campaign.

13 October 2008

What's the big deal?

Fox news has itself all in a tizzy over this photo:

I don't see what the big deal is, but Megyn Kelly is FREAKING OUT!

I think it's a pretty sad state of affairs when a couple of attractive women while about how another attractive woman isn't digitally altered in a photo. Why can't they look at the flip side and consider that maybe Sarah Palin doesn't care whether her pores were blended and smudged into oblivion. Maybe this is exactly the way it should be.

11 October 2008

Nice try

I have to commend Senator McCain for trying to bring some civility back into the American presidential race.

I just wish it didn't feel so much like he's trying to dig himself out of the hole he put himself in.

I honestly don't think that McCain was purposefully racist. I think he was being dismissive. I think he was trying to diminish Obama's status as the country's saviour by pointing out that he sometimes made decisions with something other than citizen's best interests in mind. Fair enough, but there's usually a right way and a wrong way to get your point across.

Dehumanizing someone is often the wrong way.

08 October 2008

I (heart) this

This is required viewing for the planet.

Hillary Duff is my Hero of the Week.

05 October 2008

Not quite

This isn't the distillation of the leaders debate that I was hoping for, but Dale Mugford at matthewgood.org has some great analysis of what happened in Canada on Thursday night.

You know, I'm glad to live in a country where there are multiple options for political parties, but five people around the table is a complicated debate.

10 minutes

Let's face it, debates can be hard to watch. They're repetetive, they're long, they're sometimes juvenile.

If you couldn't stomach the full debate, here's the US VPs in ten minutes:

I wish someone would do this with the Canadian debates.

04 October 2008

Let's keep it a movie

But if that's what you want, don't vote: