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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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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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The victims of anti-rape campaigns: Men on sexodus

Between the pulling of Grand Theft Auto V from Target Australia and the increasing number of women who want to be treated like humans, men are under attack like never before. A widely-read article by Milo Yiannopoulos, published at Breitbart, recently decried the excruciating oppression facing men, who, with the advent of women’s right to work and vote, are no longer able to use “girls” to solve their problems. A travesty of the highest sort. The author quotes one man: “ wouldn’t be so bad if we could at least dull the pain with girls. But we’re treated like paedophiles and potential rapists just for showing interest” These men claim they are earning less money, have less retirement funds and now, have to deal with “girls” who expect to...
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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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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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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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Podcasts

PODCAST: Is there rape culture in politics? A panel discussion

This episode features a panel discussion on rape culture in politics. The panel took place on January 29, 2014 at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and was organized by The Canadian Women Voters Congress and the UBC Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions. Panelists are (in order of appearance): Irene Tsepnopoulos-Elhaimer, Executive Director at Women Against Violence Against Women Rape Crisis Centre (WAVAW); Grace Lore, a PhD Candidate in Political Science at UBC; Ellen Woodsworth, an activist, a founder of Women Transforming Cities, and a former Vancouver City Councillor; and Meghan Murphy, writer, journalist, and founder of Feminist Current. Podcast: Play in new window | Download...
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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...
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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...
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Podcasts

PODCAST: Jean Friedman-Rudovsky on the ‘ghost rapes’ of Bolivia

People living in a small Mennonite colony in Manitoba, Bolivia were frightened and confused when women began waking up in the morning in their beds, with evidence of sexual assault, but no memory of the rapes that occurred. When the community eventually discovered that a group of men had been drugging entire families in the night in order to enter their homes and rape women and girls in their beds, for years, journalist, Jean Friedman-Rudovsky covered the trial for Time magazine. A group of nine Manitoba men, ages 19 to 43, as well as the veterinarian who had created the spray (adapted from a chemical used to anesthetize cows) used to drug the victims, went to trial. The veterinarian was sentenced to 12 years in prison, and the rapists...
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Podcasts

PODCAST: Jackie Lynne on internalized racism, abuse, and surviving prostitution

Jackie Lynne, a Métis woman, a social worker, and an exited prostitute, who has been researching prostitution academically since 1998, speaks about her experiences of abuse, rape, and internalized racism and how those experiences led to her entry into prostitution. She links the continuum of male violence and colonialism to the current situation of prostitution in Canada and sees a solution in the Nordic model. The talk took place at an event hosted by Indigenous Women Against the Sex Industry (IWASI), on April 18, 2013 at the Vancouver Public Library. ***Warning: This program contains graphic depictions of rape and abuse that may be triggering or upsetting for some listeners Podcast: Play in new window | Download...
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Was Danny Brown sexually assaulted on stage?

This story is pretty all around gross. Trigger warning for grossness, k? Because we’ve yet to hear from Danny Brown on the whole incident, aside from his bragging on Twitter, it’s hard to say exactly how everything went down or what the context was for Brown getting a blow job from a fan, on stage, at a recent show in Minneapolis, MN. The story’s getting a lot of attention, not just because it’s kind of a, let’s say, “salacious” story, but also because rapper, Kitty Pryde, who is on tour with Brown and witnessed the incident, is “mad as hell” that people aren’t calling it “an actual sexual assault.” Some further context (this is an account from someone in the audience): I was right behind the girl and saw...
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INTERVIEW: Meghan Murphy on rape culture, Steubenville, & masculinity

I was a guest on Vancouver Co-op Radio’s The Rational on Tuesday evening talking about rape culture, Steubenville, masculinity and an article I wrote recently: The Steubenville rape case: This is masculinity. Thanks to Riaz Behra, who interviewed me. You can listen to the full interview here:   Podcast: Play in new window | Download...
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The Steubenville rape case: This is masculinity

Two high school football players from Steubenville, Ohio were found guilty of raping a 16 year old girl on Sunday. They were both convicted of digitally penetrating the victim, and one was found guilty of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material. The allegations against the young men, Trent Mays, 17, and Ma’lik Richmond, 16, came after a series of photos, videos, texts, and social media posts were brought to light last August. One photo showed the victim “lying naked on the floor at a party, with semen from one of the defendants on her chest.” Another, widely circulated, showed the two young men carrying the passed-out girl by her arms and legs. Mays and Richmond have been sentenced to at least one year in juvenile jail, but...
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