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Pornography as Rape: The Rehtaeh Parsons case

If you are a woman or girl seeking justice, the Canadian legal system is an abject failure. Whether the case is instantiated at the provincial or federal level; the judicial decisions reflect the values of society, regardless of the assumed impartiality of the judge. The judge is not the only actor who plays a pivotal role in upholding the status quo; the police (especially the RCMP) are complicit in reproducing violence against women and girls. Rehtaeh Parsons is just one woman who did not receive an adequate police response; she was raped while boys (now men) produced pornographic images of her, she was intoxicated to the point of vomiting profusely at the time. The boys circulated the pornographic images of her rape, yet the police and the court decided...
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Breaking: Violent man is violent

Remember George Zimmerman? Of shooting 17 year old Trayvon Martin to death and then getting off fame? Well, CNN has reported that he was arrested Friday night on a charge of domestic violence with a weapon and aggravated assault. He allegedly threw a wine bottle at his girlfriend. Oh gee oh gee WHAT? Violent men are violent?? God, it’s almost like you can predict this shit. Raw Story points out this isn’t the first time Zimmerman has faced domestic violence charges: He was arrested in November 2013 after he pointed a shotgun at a girlfriend’s face and shattered a glass table. Prosecutors later dropped the charges after his girlfriend changed her mind about pursuing the matter. He was also put in handcuffs over a similar incident that September, but...
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A ‘war’ on the police? How about the war on women and other marginalized groups?

On Saturday, it was widely reported that Ismaaiyl Brinsley “executed” two cops in Brooklyn. The mainstream media and the NYPD immediately tried to link the shooting to the recent protests instigated by the killing of Eric Garner and Mike Brown (and subsequent acquittal of Darren Wilson, the cop who shot Brown to death and the failure to indict the police officer who put Garner in a chokehold, leading to his death). “Two NYPD cops were executed Saturday after a career criminal drove from Baltimore to Brooklyn to kill police officers in a twisted bid to avenge the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown,” the New York Daily News reported. “ Bratton said they were looking at whether the suspect had attended any rallies or demonstrations.” Patrick...
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An open letter to Dr. Camille Cosby

Dear Camille Cosby, It is very believable that the man you hear about in the news with over 20 victims coming forward telling their stories of having been drugged, sexually harassed and abused by him is not the man you know. I don’t doubt it. Consider this — the vast majority of men who buy women to abuse in prostitution are married. Their wives would say the same thing you have said about Bill were they to hear from prostitution victims and survivors of their husband’s sexual abuse. This is relevant to Bill Cosby how? The descriptions and testimony women are giving of his alleged abuse mirrors how men who buy women for prostitution treat them. And no, they don’t like it, want it. But yes, we live in...
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On Camille Cosby’s coping mechanisms: I blame the patriarchy

As more and more allegations against Bill Cosby come out, I’ve been thinking about his wife. Until recently, I had actually assumed he wasn’t married, before a quick Google search showed Cosby has been with his wife, Camille, for 50 years. They have four daughters. My initial reaction to this was “God, how awful.” I felt terribly sorry for her — sorrier for Cosby’s victims, to be sure, but I couldn’t imagine what Camille must have had to put up with, ignore, push aside, in all those years married to a man we really cannot pretend is innocent. We don’t know what all she knew but she must have known enough. Women aren’t stupid. Allegations against Bill Cosby have been public since 2004 and I don’t doubt there were...
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Why are we supposed to believe Shia LaBeouf?

I don’t have any particular opinion on Shia LaBeouf. I don’t particularly like him or dislike him. I really haven’t given him much thought. Based on a quick internet search, he seems, like many actor-types, to be overly self-involved and, like many other men, to maybe have issues with substance abuse and aggression/dickbaggery. But that impression has nothing to do with whether or not we should or should not believe he was raped. After the actor claimed, in an interview, that he was raped by a woman during his February performance art piece #IAMSORRY, Lindy West wrote, for the Guardian, about her disappointment at “expressions of doubt, scorn and outright rage from people across the ideological spectrum – some fellow feminists included.” She seems to believe that many of these...
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Podcasts

PODCAST: FAFIA launches campaign of solidarity with Aboriginal women and girls

Aboriginal women and girls face abnormally high levels of violence and continue to suffer the ongoing effects of colonialism in Canada. Between 2005 and 2010, the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) documented the disappearances or murders of 582 Aboriginal women and girls over twenty years, yet the government continues to resist launching a national inquiry. On December 1st, The Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA) is launching a solidarity campaign with Aboriginal women and girls in order to highlight the discrimination they face and to put pressure on the government to take real steps to address it. In this episode I speak with Shelagh Day and Cherry Smiley about these issues and about the campaign. Shelagh Day is a women’s rights activist, a nationally recognized human rights expert,...
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Anti-rape messaging offends Whistler bros

The Howe Sound Women’s Centre (HSWC) approached a number of Whistler bars earlier this year with the “Don’t Be That Guy” anti-rape campaign. The plan was to produce “posters depicting strong visuals and messaging that sex without consent constitutes sexual assault” and put them “in men’s washrooms in bars and pubs throughout Whistler.” The “Don’t Be That Guy” campaign launched in 2012 and resulted in a 10 per cent drop in sexual offenses in Vancouver, according to Vancouver’s Deputy Chief Doug LePard. This was the first time the VPD had seen a decrease in years. The rate of sexual assault in the Sea to Sky corridor (i.e. the Whistler/Squamish area) was apparently three times higher than in Vancouver during 2000-2009. In Whistler, sexual assaults went from six in 2011...
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Julien Blanc is rightfully condemned, but who is willing to confront the global economy of misogyny?

It’s easy to blame a globalized and systemic issue on “a few bad guys.” This is exemplified by cases like “dating advice consultant,” Julien Blanc. Blanc tours the world teaching men “pickup artistry.” He demonstrates the misogyny inherent in the pickup enterprise by teaching other men to use his violent and emotionally abusive techniques in their approach to women. After public outcry condemned his actions, Blanc was kicked out of Australia before he could run his planned seminar in Melbourne. His methods include choking women and pushing their faces into his crotch — behaviour that is typified in pornography. But while Blanc has been rightfully criticized, the institutions that profit from such imagery go unchallenged. Globally, sexist violence has reached epic proportions with one in three women affected. While the...
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It is ‘all men': Our culture of predatory misogyny

You know how they are telling you that it is “not all men?” That men like Jian Ghomeshi are a terrible exception and if we as men simply stand up and say we are not as bad as that, or that we are not rapists or do not beat “our” girlfriends or that we show that it is not men, generally, who are violent and abusive, but only “bad” men? Well that is bullshit. It is all men. We, collectively, and most commonly as individuals, are responsible for creating the conditions that not only facilitate Ghomeshi, but that ensure he will exist. This is a very uncomfortable and inconvenient truth. It is all men and the society that they produced that allowed a misogynist, alleged serial abuser to rise...
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Fifth woman comes forward with allegations against Jian Ghomeshi

Today on As it Happens, Carol Off spoke with a fifth anonymous woman who claims she was assaulted by former host of Q, Jian Ghomeshi. The woman claims that she went on a couple of dates with Ghomeshi, who she describes as “a charming man.” She says during their early interactions she “did not get any indication that there was anything to worry about,” but while she was in his car, he reached over and grabbed her hair and pulled her head back, “very hard.” She got out of the car and went home, totally confused. She wondered if she “missed something,” having not dated in a while. This is a common experience for women who encounter abusers — we are so totally caught off guard, we question the...
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Jian Ghomeshi’s ‘consent’ defence shows why ‘consent’ isn’t good enough

The CBC announced yesterday that they would be ending their relationship with Jian Ghomeshi, host of cultural affairs radio show Q, and probably the most famous radio host the CBC has ever had. “The CBC is saddened to announce its relationship with Jian Ghomeshi has come to an end. This decision was not made without serious deliberation and careful consideration. Jian has made an immense contribution to the CBC and we wish him well,” the network said in a statement. Before Ghomeshi himself dropped the bomb of all bombs, via an explanatory post on his Facebook page, it was clear something sketchy was up. It would take something pretty serious in order to fire Ghomeshi. He is widely beloved across Canada and the show, I’m certain, is the most...
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Oscar Pistorius knew exactly what he was doing

On Thursday,  Judge Thokozile Matilda Masipa found Oscar Pistorius, 27, guilty of culpable homicide, “a vindication for the athlete who vehemently protested his innocence during a trial in South Africa that gripped millions around the world,” reports The Guardian. Last year, on Valentines Day, Pistorius fired four shots through the bathroom door, killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, 29, who was on the other side of the door, locked in the bathroom. “Culpable homicide” is equivalent to a manslaughter charge, meaning that Pistorius will get 15 years max. Max. There is no minimum sentence. It is unlikely Pistorius will serve 15 years. He could be punished with community service and fines. Pistorius got away with murder. He was not charged with murder because Masipa felt “It cannot be said that he...
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On Ray Rice and why it doesn’t matter if she stayed

As many of you are already aware, a new video of Baltimore Ravens running back, Ray Rice, surfaced on Monday that showed him punching his then-fiancée, Janay Palmer, in the head. In May, a video of Rice dragging her, unconscious, out of the elevator he apparently punched her in, was circulated widely. Back then the Ravens chose to only suspend him for two games and had Palmer and Rice show up at a press conference in order to present an image to the public of everything being a-ok. The Ravens Tweeted: “Janay Rice says she deeply regrets the role that she played the night of the incident.” I imagine everyone was very comforted to know that Rice’s now-wife apologized for her own part in being punched in the head....
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‘War Machine’ not ‘a monster,’ but ‘a good guy.’ Phewf.

The MMA fighter named “War Machine” (aka Jonathan Koppenhaver) who beat his ex-girlfriend, Christy Mack, so badly that she ended up with 18 broken bones, missing teeth, multiple stab wounds (including in her ear and head), and a lacerated liver, was arrested on Friday, August 15th. It was recently reported that he also sexually assaulted Mack. Mack stated on Twitter that Koppenhaver had made her undress and take a shower and threatened to rape her (but didn’t follow through because he couldn’t get an erection). According to LA Weekly, the police have since said “that he did sexually assault her by using a finger to penetrate her as she was nude in her bathroom,” saying to Mack: “That’s my pussy and I’m going to take it back now.” The man Mack...
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Violent ‘alpha male’ & mixed martial arts fighter brutally beats ex-girlfriend; claims he’s ‘cursed’

TW: Graphic descriptions of extreme violence (via Gawker) Some disgusting mixed martial arts fighter named Jon Koppenhaver (aka “War Machine”) apparently showed up at his ex-girlfriend’s house on Friday night, found another man there, who he proceeded to attack, before sending him away and turning his attention towards the woman, Christy Mack. Mack posted a very detailed account of the attack, as well as some photos via her Twitter account: At about 2 am Friday morning, Jon Koppenhaver arrived unannounced to my home in Las Vegas, NV, after he broke up with me in May, he moved out of my house and back to San Diego. When he arrived, he found myself and one other fully clothed and unarmed in the house. Without a single word spoken, he began...
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Despite rape allegations, Conor Oberst still has a career

** Earlier this year, news broke that emo darling Conor Oberst had been accused of statutory rape. This is a short history of the case, from the woman who first brought it to the internet’s attention. ** Like many progressives, I spend a fair amount of time reading about social issues. When the story relates to my actual profession, I’m all in. Publications often seem like a desert in that respect, because despite our alleged postfeminist landscape, feminist politics haven’t seemed to make particular inroads into the music industry. Occasionally someone will pick apart especially egregious behavior from especially famous dudes, while many women on the scene self-describe as feminists whether they are or not; but hardly anyone seems eager to probe at this sausage fest any further. About...
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