Rape Survivor @ZerlinaMaxwell has a message for Sen. Levin

“Rape is a crime…it is illegal. This is not about someone being to sensitive or being harassed. This is about an act of violence that, inside and outside of the military, should be dealt with in a serious manner” – Zerlina Maxwell

UNC Student Newspaper Takes A Stand Against Sexual Assault

MasculinityU simply wishes to show our support to the incredible men and women of UNC who are taking a stand during Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Check out their powerful words below.

(Excerpt crossposted from The Daily Tarheel)

Rape is a violent crime.

At UNC and colleges across the country, it is treated as an infraction.

Something so fundamentally wrong demands a principled solution.

This means undertaking a complete overhaul of the way the University deals with cases of rape. And it means forgetting for a moment the problematic requirements of federal guidelines, and instead creating a system that realizes the University’s responsibility to protect its students. A culture of false justice lies at the heart of a broken system, and should be replaced with a focus on:

1. Support for survivors;
2. Education for all students on the consequences of rape; 
3. Deference in the pursuit of justice to trained law enforcement.

For years, universities have played an inappropriate role in the aftermath of incidents of rape involving students. At UNC, the Honor Court, a quasi-judicial board made up entirely of students, heard and adjudicated cases of sexual assault until last year. Similar models were used across the country, becoming the object of intense scrutiny as to whether they could effectively deal with such a sensitive crime.

In 2011, the U.S. Department of Education issued what is popularly referred to as the “Dear Colleague” letter. The letter included a set of guidelines for making the ways colleges dealt with sexual assault compliant with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, landmark legislation aimed at preventing sex discrimination. During the last two years, UNCand the rest of the nation’s universities have implemented the changes demanded by the letter: lowering the standard of proof required to determine guilt in rape cases and the hiring of an individual to oversee the processes, among others…

To read the rest of the editorial visit The Daily Tarheel

Heteronormativity of Valentine’s Day (From the Archive)

Sacchi Patel

Co-Founder MasculinityU

February 14, 2011

Today marks an important holiday for Americans as we spend close to $18,000,000,000 to make up for not showing others we love them the other 364 days out of the year. A simple Google search for “Valentine’s Day Gifts” promises to yield more red heart-shaped merchandise than even Cupid intended for. All this isn’t my issue as I no longer contribute to this substantial one-day consumer financial deficit due to low wages and no partner; aka I’m a broke and single grad student. What troubles me much more than spending my textbook money on a sterling silver necklace is the fact that one of our nation’s largest holidays (and one that most Americans seem to observe indiscriminately of religious affiliation) is only intended for part of our population. You see, Valentine’s Day only actually exists in a heterosexist and patriarchal framework also known as “everyday American life”. Valentine’s Day is one of the most Heteronormative displays of our country’s message: members of the LGBTIQ community are not welcome here. This of course is hidden behind chocolate, roses, hearts, and more chocolate.

Capitalism encourages websites and stores to neatly categorizes their items “Gifts for Him” and “Gifts for Her”. This makes life easier for many of us, however it does not make it easier for all of us. In fact, it can actually lead to people feeling out-casted and worthless. Today, I saw a “His & Her” matching pajama set for sale online. Though accommodating for heterosexual couples, imagine how some people of the LGBTIQ community would feel if they saw this at every store or every website that they visited to find something for their partner. Some relationships may have no one who identifies as either a man or a woman. What options would they have? Should this just be their problem since they are gay? Should they have to feel the constant disapproval of their relationship from all of our society with every offer of a blue and pink pajama set? In short, the answer is no.

The fact of the matter is that heterosexuality is a privileged identity, which by virtue of its definition encourages us never to think about anyone who isn’t heterosexual. Heteronormativity encourages us to live life with its advantages and never stop to think how those advantages come to us so easily nor does it allow us to think about who is systemically suffering when we accept those privileges.

Further, Valentine’s Day allows our society to harbor dangerous beliefs that contribute to a system of hegemonic masculinity. The holiday not only teaches us that boys must like girls and vice versa, but it teaches our youth that boys must be the providers for needy girls who must remain submissive. With this thought it is no wonder that these simple ideas can manifest themselves into adulthood that at times can be filled with violence. Additionally, we must challenge all the ways that Valentine’s Day forces us to conform to a binary system as it pertains to gender. We are declaring that only men/boys and women/girls exist or should exist, when in actuality we know that we are leaving many people out

Though it may seem that I am a bitter person who hates love, I assure you that my intent is to spread love. A love to be spread every single day of the year, to every one of us (without leaving anyone out).

Crosspost: The Real Invisible Women: A Look At Te’o And Campus Rape Culture

The following post is abbreviated and crossposted from Campus Progress. It was written by our co-founder Marc Peters

Unless you have been living underground the past two days, you’ve heard about Manti Te’o, the famed Notre Dame football player who allegedly created a girlfriend from thin air. Now, it’s certainly hard to ignore a player who creates an imaginary girlfriend then uses her serious car accident, leukemia diagnosis, and tragic passing to curry favor and good press. Still, an inordinate amount of time, column inches, ink and paper have been set aside to talk about this elaborate hoax and the case of “the invisible woman.”

There is no denying that this makes for what journalists would call “good copy,” but Salon drew our attention to a story that is not being told:

Less than a day into the Manti Te’o revelations, we’ve heard more about a fake dead girlfriend of a Notre Dame football player than a real dead girl. Lizzy Seeberg committed suicide, not long after being intimidated by Notre Dame football players for reporting a sexual assault by one of their teammates. A second woman who was taken to the hospital for a rape exam declined to formally accuse another Notre Dame football player after getting a series of bullying texts from players.

This is hardly new territory for the storied Notre Dame football program. Two years ago, Dave Zirin wrote a story for The Nation calling the program “a moral cesspool.” And they have not shied away from backing Te’o even as they turn a blind eye to the plight of Lizzy Seeberg and other young women like her. Zirin writes in a piece from this week:

Within hours of the story breaking online, Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick held a press conference where he backed Te’o to the hilt saying, ‘Every single thing about this was real to Manti. There was no suspicion. The grief was real, the affection was real, and that’s the sad nature of this cruel game.’ Swarbrick revealed that a private outside firm had been hired to investigate just who had perpetrated this ‘cruel game.’ The athletic director even cried. …

It says so much that Te’o’s bizarre soap opera has moved Swarbrick to openly weeping but he hasn’t spared one tear, let alone held one press conference, for Lizzy Seeberg, the young woman who took her own life after coming forward with allegations that a member of the team sexually assaulted her.

According to the American Federation of Suicide Prevention, more than 4,000 people between the ages of 15 and 24 die by suicide each year in the United States. It’s all but assured that their tragedies won’t reach the level of media saturation that Manti Te’o’s imaginary girlfriend’s loss of life did. The organization One in Four reports that one in four college women report surviving rape and, while not all of those instances end as tragically as Lizzy Seeberg’s did, it is still an unbelievable horror that no woman should have to experience.

The only way to prevent suicide, the only way to reduce the number of rapes occurring on our college campuses, is to draw attention to the problem. We need the cooperation of students, law enforcement officials, and yes, the media.

To read the rest of the post visit CampusProgress.org

Not In Our Name – A Sobering Realization

Right now, as non-Native men, either of us could physically or sexually assault a Native woman on a Native American reservation and not be subjected to local jurisdiction. And many of us do. And get away with it.

“Native women are assaulted at higher rates than any other group in America. Non-Native people are the ones who are committing the (overwhelming) majority of crimes on tribal land. We should be able to have protections against this.”[1]

ImageFor this one moment, right now, this hateful, racist, and deadly legal loophole is being held up to the light for all to see. It is being addressed by the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This, then, is our moment to act. To support those Native women and men who have been working so hard to save lives.

VAWA is set to expire. Soon. And yet, in our name as white and non-native men, Eric Cantor, the GOP, and those that support them are sabotaging efforts to reform and reauthorize this law. They are boldly saying that continuing to hold white and non-native men NOT ACCOUNTABLE for the violence we commit IS PARAMOUNT to the protection, safety, and very lives of native and indigenous women.

Not in our name.

Hold us accountable. Hold all those who commit violence accountable regardless of who they are, and regardless of who their victims are.

How many of us white and/or non-native men are aware that this is even happening? These levels of violence with no mechanism for accountability?

This legal loophole has sustained the epidemic levels of primarily non-native men’s violence against Native women – domestic violence and sexual violence, and often both. And many white and/or non-native men INTENTIONALLY exploit it.

“According to U.S. Department of Justice statistics, 1 out of 3 Native women will be raped in her lifetime and 3 out of 5 will be physically assaulted, while their offenders escape prosecution under the color of discriminatory United States law. In this human rights crisis, Native women are murdered at rates 10 times the national average, and subjected to domestic violence and assault at staggering rates — rates 2½ times higher than any other group in the United States.”[2]

Every man falls into one of two main camps on this issue:

We are either committing this violence ourselves, or allowing it to occur in our names.

And neither is okay.

Not in our names.

___________________________________

If you agree but are wondering, “I don’t know anything about this stuff. Where would I even start?”

Well, great question, and so glad you asked! It can be daunting, and time is of the essence. So let’s start here. We must support the Senate version of VAWA re-authorization.

Sincerely and in brotherhood,

Joe Samalin, Sacchi Patel

The real credit and great appreciation goes to: Lauren Chief Elk (Project Wiyabi), Bix Gabriel (TakeTwo Services), Ben Atherton-Zeman (Voices of Men), and others who have educated us about this issue, and many other things.

Reblog: Surviving, at Amherst College

Surviving, at Amherst College.

This is a crucial read for all of us. Full credit to author Dana Bolger.

via Reblog: Surviving, at Amherst College.