Blog

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...
Continue Reading »
Blog

I want 140 characters which will end rape

So men, what do you want to hear? Not all men are like that? You’re not like those other men? Let’s say I tell you men that you are wonderful, kind, heroic and humble. Will these words of praise stop the girl enslavement called “child marriages?” If women change tactics from demanding the return of girl children stolen in Africa, if instead we engulf men in a cascade of compliments assuring men that we know they are decent and devoted, will men return our generosity by raising the average age a girl enters prostitution out of the early teen years? So men, if it is not flattery you want from women, what are the words you want to hear? What can women say that will cause you to finally...
Continue Reading »
Blog

Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow think making connections between male entitlement and violence against women is ‘self-promotional’

Actor, Seth Rogen and director, Judd Apatow did not react well to a recent column by Washington Post film critic, Ann Hornaday which drew connections between last week’s mass killing in Isla Vista and movies that center around “sexual conquest.” Hornaday writes: For generations, mass entertainment has been overwhelmingly controlled by white men, whose escapist fantasies so often revolve around vigilantism and sexual wish-fulfillment (often, if not always, featuring a steady through-line of casual misogyny). She specifically named Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen’s recently-released film, Neighbors, as an example, saying: How many students watch outsized frat-boy fantasies like ‘Neighbors’ and feel, as Rodger did, unjustly shut out of college life that should be full of ‘sex and fun and pleasure?’ How many men, raised on a steady diet of...
Continue Reading »
Blog

On rape culture and what Heather MacDonald doesn’t understand about sexual violence

CBC Radio’s Q with Jian Ghomeshi hosted a debate on the term “rape culture” yesterday, which could have actually been interesting and productive, had producers made better choices in terms of how they framed the conversation. I do consider “rape culture” to be a useful and accurate way of describing the way in which sexual violence has been normalized and sexualized in our culture. There is simply no denying that, when we see male students “joking” about raping female students, as we did recently at the University of Ottawa, when fraternities are untouchable on campus despite the fact that the “Greek scene” is a cesspool of toxic masculinity and sexual violence, when students at Canadian universities participate in “rape chants” during frosh week while fellow students are actually being raped...
Continue Reading »
Blog

Woody Allen and the persistent myths of rape culture

By now the outline detailing the facts of the terrible story that Dylan Farrow tells of her sexual assault as a child by her father Woody Allen are well known. After he was honoured at the Golden Globes for his work in film, Mia Farrow and Allen’s son Ronan Farrow tweeted comments that essentially called the Golden Globes and other celebrities out for having done this in spite of Woody Allen’s history of sexual assault, and his entirely and obviously inappropriate behaviour towards Mia Farrow’s adopted daughter whom he had known since the age of eight and began to have a sexual relationship with as soon as he was legally able to do so. This led to a defence of Allen by Robert Weide in The Daily Beast on January 27th. Weide’s article was followed by...
Continue Reading »
Blog

Why defend Woody Allen?

Dylan Farrow, Mia Farrow’s daughter, recently published an account of the sexual abuse she allegedly experienced at the hands of Woody Allen. I have to say “allegedly,” I guess, because that’s what we have to do when the accused was never charged. Of course, as those of us who have known abusers and abuse (and that’s likely most of us, as women) know, most abusers aren’t charged. So “allegedly,” I’ll say. But I believe her. There is no reason not to believe her. I know, I know — it’s just all so complicated, some say. Who really knows the truth? Well, Dylan knows the truth. And Allen knows the truth. So pick a side, any side; equipped with the knowledge that going public about our abuse and our abusers...
Continue Reading »
Blog

What are our responsibilities in navigating rape culture? On R. Kelly and separating art from life

Can we separate a work of art from the artist who created it? Can we separate artists from themselves? What is our role as consumers of art in relation to rape culture? What is rape culture? You may have asked yourself some of these questions in recent weeks if you read the detailed article on R. Kelly’s history of sexual poaching and abuse of minors or if you saw Woody Allen’s son Ronan Farrow publicly accusing his father, on twitter, of sexually abusing his sister (Allen’s then seven year old daughter). There are many other problematic artists of course (Roman Polanski and Norman Mailer come to mind), but perhaps none so widely loved and heralded by mainstream media as Kelly and Allen, who’ve not only been a permitted to...
Continue Reading »
Blog

On ‘gendered violence’ and remembering the Montreal Massacre

Today is December 6. Twenty four years ago, 14 women were murdered at École Polytechnique in Montreal by a man who shouted: “You’re all a bunch of feminists, and I hate feminists!” Today is also the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. Though some have been commenting on “gendered violence” or “gender-based violence” today, I prefer a more specific description. This is about male violence against women. Indeed, this violence is gendered, but to talk about “gendered violence” is too vague. What this term signifies is fear — and that fear exists with good reason. Feminists are targeted because they name the problem. We target patriarchy, male dominance, female oppression, and male violence against women. Men are threatened by feminism because we refuse to mask the...
Continue Reading »
Podcasts

PODCAST: Sexual assaults on campus, sexual harassment on public transit — Women confront rape culture in public spaces

A string of sexual assaults were reported recently at UBC. The University has responded by expanding Safewalk services and has issued a number of warnings that women not walk alone at night. Some female students have organized a Take Back the Night rally and march in order to raise consciousness, share stories and challenge rape culture and the patriarchal culture that allows violence against women to continue. In this episode, Meghan Murphy speaks with Emily Monaghan, one of the organizers of Take Back the Night UBC. Emily is a first year environmental science and sustainability student at UBC and an intersectional feminist. In the second part of the show, we hear from Katie Nordgren, one of the women behind a project addressing sexual harassment and sexual assault on public...
Continue Reading »
Blog

We ain’t sayin’ she a gold digger: On Kasi Perkins as “the catalyst” to her own death & holding the media accountable

Coverage of the murder of Kasandra (Kasi) Perkins by NFL linebacker Jovan Belcher has been incredibly brutal over the past few days as we bear witness to mainstream news sources rushing to defend Belcher’s character and erase any whiff of ‘male violence’ or ‘domestic abuse’ from the conversation. Most media that covered the story over the weekend barely mentioned her, headlines reading” “Chiefs LB Belcher kills self“, “NFL tragedy: Chiefs chairman says Jovan Belcher murder-suicide ‘incredibly difficult’”, “Jovan Belcher murder-suicide leaves Chiefs in shock“, “Kansas City Chiefs’ Belcher in fatal double shooting“… You get the picture. Something about a football player. The NFL is taking it pretty hard. Fox Sports went out of it’s way to find people to defend Belcher’s honour: He was a good, good person … a...
Continue Reading »
Blog

The Feared and the Fearful

This article was originally published on the Deep Green Resistance News Service and was reprinted with permission from the author.   Seven years ago, I was headed out to do my laundry. It was early, before dawn, and the laundromat was across the street. Entering the building, I saw a young woman gasp, before crouching behind a washer with a look of pure terror on her face. My immediate response was to be dumbfounded, and it took the woman only a few seconds to realize that I was there to wash my clothes. She apologized, and went back to watching her laundry. I said nothing to her. Feeling frazzled, I loaded a washer, and then walked back to my apartment, still trying to process what had happened. The woman...
Continue Reading »
Blog

Not my Nigel: On mothers, sons, responsibility, and denial

After reading a piece, published back in 1989 by Sonia Johnson called “Rearing Nice Sons Can’t Change the World“, I started thinking about mothers, sons, male privilege and what’s sometimes referred to as the ‘Not my Nigel‘ defense. In the article, Johnson points out that, while we love to wax poetic about the very important role mothers play in this world, they are relatively powerless in terms of effecting change on a systematic level and, therefore, have little influence over whether or not their sons turn out to be entitled misogynists. She writes: Patriarchy tells mothers unctuously that we are very important and have much influence, but its behavior speaks louder than its words. Of all persons in patriarchal society, mothers have been set up to have least credibility....
Continue Reading »
Blog

It’s not about you: Beyond ‘kink-shaming’

Let’s just start by saying this: I really don’t care about ‘kink’ or about ‘kinky people’. It just doesn’t interest me. I don’t give a shit about your leather fetish. Really. But because I recently dared to suggest that RCMP officer Jim Brown’s sadomasochistic behaviour might, just might, be related to the fact that we live in a pornified world that sexualizes violence against women and male domination, it was decided by the internet (and the internet never lies, folks) that I hated ‘kinky sex’/’kinky people’, that I simply don’t know enough about BDSM to be qualified to judge images that are very clearly fetishizing male domination, and that I think all people who are into BDSM are terrible, terrible people. Basically, the response I got was exactly the...
Continue Reading »
Blog

Private fantasy, public reality: The RCMP, BDSM, and violence against women

Photos of a member of the RCMP, Cpl. Jim Brown, engaged in BDSM scenes were discovered online recently. The scenes were violent, degrading, according to many news reports, “reminiscent of crimes.” The fact that Brown played a role in the Pickton murder investigation was particularly upsetting to the public. How could a man who so clearly enjoys degrading women fairly assess a case that is explicitly about violence against women, about dehumanizing women, and that played out as it did (in that the disappearances of women from the Downtown Eastside were ignored by the police for years) because the women who were going missing were viewed as worthless? The photos discovered of Brown on fetlife.com included, for example, images of him holding a knife to...
Continue Reading »

A history of oppression: Canada, colonialism, and prostitution

This article was written for and originally published on June 15, 2012 in Issue #106 of Megaphone Magazine: Vancouver’s Street Paper Sex trade law has occupied the forefront of feminist debate ever since an historic legal challenge to Bedford v. Canada was filed in 2007. The case argued that existing laws that criminalized pimping, public communication for the purposes of prostitution and operating a bawdy house were unconstitutional. On March 26, 2012, Justice Susan Himel ruled to decriminalize brothels in Ontario. While most feminists would agree that the current laws are problematic as they criminalize women with few other choices but to sell sex, advocates are divided on the best way forward. Issues such as poverty, racism, addiction and sexism define who enters the sex trade, not only in...
Continue Reading »

Rape Relief v. Nixon, transphobia, and the value of women-only space: An interview with Lee Lakeman

Although the Nixon v. Rape Relief case was settled back in 2007, with a dismissal of Kimberly Nixon’s request to appeal the B.C. Court of Appeals decision (that decision being that “Vancouver Rape Relief has the right to prefer to train women who have never been treated as anything but female”), the case continues to be a source of controversy. In an effort to address misinformation, accusations of “transphobia”, and to give Lee Lakeman the opportunity to respond to some points that came up in an interview The F Word’s Nicole Deagan did with Susan Stryker, I spoke with her over the phone last week. I’ve posted the audio and the transcript of that interview below.   Meghan Murphy: Can you give me some background on this case? Lee...
Continue Reading »

Being anti-state does not equal being pro-freedom: Misogyny and the imagined "Circle of Protection" in progressive communities

This post is not intended to be a blind celebration of the police. Let’s not pretend as though the police are not largely representative of  white male power and authority. But that does not mean I am anti-criminalization or anti-state. As feminists and as women, we need the state on our side. When I read two posts published recently, addressing “safe space” and misogyny in activist communities, specifically in the Occupy Vancouver community, I had high hopes. But that sentiment was quickly replaced by a sinking feeling. Building a safer space, according to these two pieces, “Safety Within Social Movements Is Everyone’s Responsibility” & “On Safer Spaces,” meant depending on the activist community to protect you. Specifically, women and other marginalized folks were meant to rely on a “Circle of...
Continue Reading »