<![CDATA[People Against Rape Culture - Progress]]>Sun, 07 Feb 2016 21:55:43 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[From across the pond, amazing progress in the simplest and most obvious of ways]]>Fri, 20 Mar 2015 21:26:30 GMThttp://www.peopleagainstrapeculture.org/progress/from-across-the-pond-amazing-progress-in-the-simplest-and-most-obvious-of-ways
The BBC has just reported on the British government's commitment to effective and comprehensive sex education by instituting education on consent for students beginning at age 11, postulating that if the average age of sexual activity onset is 16 and a few years of preparatory education would be most effective. Some of the brilliant and singular statements the government made included 

 "The introduction to the draft document, which is due to be launched this year, says young people should be taught about consent before they are sexually active." 

Imagine that. Being taught about consent before you are expected to be able to negotiate consent. Just brilliant. What other remarkable revelations did the BBC report?

"The government said it wanted to give young people a "better understanding of the society around them" so they could "make informed choices and stay safe".

What stroke of genius is this that figured young people could and would make better choices for themselves if they have a better understanding of what those choices are and how the world works? It's so simple and so much YES OF COURSE OBVIOUSLY! 
And what about people who think that proper sex ed is what motivates young people to explore sexual relationships?

"recognizing that some young people will be sexually active before the age of 16 does not equate to encouraging underage sexual activity".

Really. Hats off to the British government! They've managed to take a grown up, sobering look at the landscape of sexual assault and predation of young people, respond in the most logical and appropriate way, and swat away irrational and fear-mongering detractors with sense and authority. Bravo! 

We could stand to do a lot more of the same over here, where the numbers don't lie: the states with the highest rates of unplanned pregnancy are those that teach abstinence only sex education, and the states that have woken up to the proof in the pudding and instituted comprehensive sexual education have seen drops in rates of teen pregnancies. Imagine that. 

And lessons we should be learning from our European neighbors doesn't end there. Mic.com is reporting that Denmark is progressing as usual ahead of the crowd right on over to teaching about pornography through showing it to high school students, recognizing the importance of porn literacy taught early and realistically.

"Christian Graugaard, a professor at Aalborg University, proposed introducing porn into public school sexual education during an interview with Danish public broadcaster DR. "Instead of having sex education be boring and technical, where you roll a condom onto a cucumber, I'd rather have us educate our children to be critical consumers who see porn with a certain distance and reflection," Graugaard said, according to the Local
These efforts are not free from criticism; the understandable uproar from parents will be a hurdle, and others point out that some students may not have chosen to look at porn yet and wouldn't want to and shouldn't have to. All of these concerns should be taken into a look at how to teach porn literacy best, and make sure to include a necessary element of sex ed. We know that education is one of the most effective ways to help teens make better decisions regarding their sexual health, and we need to commit to providing them with comprehensive sexual education, despite so many efforts to the contrary.
<![CDATA[Have you heard of Derrick Gordon? No? That might be a good thing.]]>Sun, 15 Mar 2015 17:45:55 GMThttp://www.peopleagainstrapeculture.org/progress/have-you-heard-of-derrick-gordon-no-that-might-be-a-good-thing
We've come a long way if a college basketball player's public coming out doesn't make many waves. Derrick Gordon came out this year to little fanfare, at least of the negative variety, and that looks like a whole lotta progress. No gay bashing from the crowds, the jeering from teammates and opponents, no nothing. Nothing but support from his cohort and fans, solidarity with the countless other gay athletes who have come out publicly, and hope for those who haven't come out yet who have reached out to him for support. On the heels of Michael Sam and Jason Collins, the many profoundly funny and moving ways the world censured Russian anti-LGBTQ politics at Sochi and some other big steps, Gordon's lack of universal public recognition just might signal that we've come to a place where a gay athlete* coming out isn't that big of a deal. 

*NOW. This being said, let's all just marinate in the fact that I've only mentioned MALE athletes here, and that professional female athletes had come out long before Collins. Where we need some more progress of course is recognizing that women are anywhere near as important as men when it comes to the sporting arena, and there is something very telling about being left out of the conversation all together. But with these strides, who knows? The changing face of who gets to be recognized as a legitimate and valuable athlete may be coming around to include more than straight males. 
<![CDATA[FTC, courts, and internet show revenge porn victims some hope with landmark settlements and policies]]>Thu, 26 Feb 2015 01:43:28 GMThttp://www.peopleagainstrapeculture.org/progress/ftc-courts-and-internet-show-revenge-porn-victims-some-hope-with-landmark-settlements-and-policies
The war against women has found new and uncharted ground on the internet, with the Supreme Court set to decide if someone is allowed to threaten to kill and rape you in gruesome detail on the internet, over and over again and have that protected as a first amendment right, and revenge porn sites and hosts showing us through countless resurgences against common decency and court orders that they are who the tenth circle of hell should be created for. So it is with relief that we note progress being made against revenge porn purveyors. 

As The Washington Post reports, the Federal Trade Commission broke ground in the fight against revenge porn when they cornered Craig Brittain into a settlement after pointing out that his revenge porn is in fact a business and as such was guilty of unfair business practices, specifically "substantial injury to consumers". Craig Brittain ran a site called Is Anybody Down on which he featured victims' nude photos he had solicited from jilted exes off of sites like craigslist. The FTC's decision creates a landmark avenue for victim's to pursue justice, and is a huge step forward. 

And in a delicious twist of areyoukiddingme, Brittain ACTUALLY filed a take down order against Google to get them to remove links to unauthorized photos and information about him. Because he didn't approve of having photos and information about himself posted publicly on the internet. Oh, and as the Post notes he really has no right to do that and will not likely get anywhere with his efforts. Ya know, cause it's really hard to get photos of yourself taken down if you don't own a copyright to them. Yes, let that sink in. And then swirl it around in a glass because that is sweet, sweet justice going down. 

This precedent echoes other firm messages being sent to the likes of Hunter Moore and Kevin Bollaert, revenge porn monsters that are now facing between 6 and 20 year jail sentences if convicted. And in a show of support from the internet, Reddit has just announced they will not host non-consensual nude photos. And in a show of one-upmanship that we can really get behind, Twitter also announced they will ban revenge porn photos, but go even further than Reddit by locking the account of the user and requiring them to delete the content before being able to access it again. 

And that looks like some serious progress. 

<![CDATA[Kerry and Carter make big strides for LGBTQ rights]]>Wed, 25 Feb 2015 23:10:09 GMThttp://www.peopleagainstrapeculture.org/progress/kerry-and-carter-make-big-statements-on-lgbtq-rights
This week Secretary of State John Kerry announced the appointment of Randy Berry to the inaugural post of special envoy for LGBTQ rights, saying, “Defending and promoting the human rights of LGBT persons is at the core of our commitment to advancing human rights globally – the heart and conscience of our diplomacy,” Kerry said Monday." With countries in which it is illegal to be gay and where one can be arrested for alleged propaganda, this posting is a clear sign that the US recognizes the need to address and end violence and discrimination against LGBTQ populations on a global scale as well. 

Recently appointed Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter has sent a hopeful message of support to advocates for ending the ban on transgender service members by saying he thought that applicants be should be evaluated based on their abilities to serve their country well. “I don’t think anything but their suitability for service should preclude them,” he offered. Advocates pushing for enactment of his sentiment hope this is a start, and that Carter follows through with concrete changes and protections for transgender service members, current and prospective. 
<![CDATA[Department of Education: Title IX Explicitly Includes Protections for Transgender Students]]>Thu, 04 Dec 2014 18:37:49 GMThttp://www.peopleagainstrapeculture.org/progress/department-of-education-title-ix-explicitly-includes-protections-for-transgender-students
This week, the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights clarified that transgender students are explicitly covered under Title IX, taking a significant step towards ensuring some of our most targeted and vulnerable students get the protection they deserve. Building on a 2012 ruling protecting transgender right sin the workplace, supporters and advocates rejoice the clear messaging. 

""This guidance is crystal clear and leaves no room for uncertainty on the part of schools regarding their legal obligation to protect transgender students from discrimination, " said Ian Thompson, ACLU legislative representative, in a statement."

If we understand rape and sexual assault to be about power, accountability and vulnerability, it follows that those populations that remain the most marginalized and targeted are the most at risk, and require explicit efforts to ensure they receive the same protections as everyone else. 
<![CDATA[The White House launches "It's On Us" campaign to combat campus sexual assault and rape]]>Sun, 28 Sep 2014 18:43:39 GMThttp://www.peopleagainstrapeculture.org/progress/the-white-house-launches-its-on-us-campaign-to-combat-campus-sexual-assault-and-rape
Adding to the gaining momentum of various efforts to eradicate rape and sexual assault on campus, the White House launched their "It's On Us" campaign, an initiative striving to reframe sexual assault as not just a 'women's issue, but everyone's responsibility to fight. This is an initial step, and a critical one. As we look at the dismal statistics and horrifying stories coming out of our nation's campuses, we have to acknowledge that change needs to happen, and quickly. 

And as he is increasingly known to do, Vice President Biden summed it nicely when he addressed the audience of the launch: 

"It’s on all of us to change the culture that asks the wrong questions, and our culture still asks the wrong questions," Biden said, his voice growing louder as he got more emotional. "It is never the right question for a woman to ask, 'What did I do?' Never. Get this straight: never is it appropriate for a woman to ask, 'What did I do?' The question is, 'Why was that done to me, and will someone do something about it?'" 

We at PARC salute the White House's efforts to shift the conversation away from how women and other survivors can prevent their assaults to how we all must acknowledge our roles and responsibility and take action when it comes to consensual sex and safe spaces.
<![CDATA[Fraternities Pledge to Create Safer Spaces]]>Fri, 26 Sep 2014 17:23:27 GMThttp://www.peopleagainstrapeculture.org/progress/fraternities-pledge-to-create-safer-spaces
Fraternities are an unlikely place to find allies in the fight against campus sexual assault and rape, but they're exactly where we need advocates and leaders for change. With so many high profile tragedies coming out of fraternities lately, enough public outcry and concern has mobilized a change in the undercurrent of Greek life. Eight national fraternities have just come together to form the Fraternal Health and Safety Initiative, a consortium developed to address and reduce sexual assault, binge drinking and hazing, a landmark move that will hopefully result in increased awareness and responsibility and decreased incidents of assault and harm. Even more heartening are 21 pledges of allegiance to creating cultures of consent and respect coming out of Indiana University. Perhaps in direct response to the Obama administration's call to young men to participate in the fight against sexual assault and gender-based violence, 21 fraternities drafted and released statements clarifying their commitment to safe spaces, changing the cultures of their organizations to prevent rape and sexual assault,  and responsibility to each other and their communities. While we'll still need to wait and see how effective these initiatives prove to be, we can look at these actions and statements as big steps in the right direction toward uprooting rape cultures and replacing them with cultures of consent and respect. Bravo to these young men taking stands to be allies in what has heretofore largely been considered a woman's fight.
<![CDATA[Accountability and Economic Disincentives Ripple Through the NFL]]>Wed, 17 Sep 2014 21:07:59 GMThttp://www.peopleagainstrapeculture.org/progress/accountability-and-economic-disincentives-ripple-through-the-nfl
The NFL has been rocked by two big scandals that have seemed to touch enough of a chord with the public to spur changes from within and criticism from major sponsors.  Despite initial footage of Ravens running back Ray Rice dragging his unconscious then-fiancee out of an elevator after knocking her out, Rice was only suspended from 2 games, a punishment harshly criticized by many as much too weak, especially in light of harsher punishments handed out for infractions like smoking marijuana. It wasn't until weeks later that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell came to his senses and announced changes to the organization's domestic violence policies that would better reflect the severity of the crime. However it wasn't until TMZ released footage from inside the elevator showing the knock-out punch that Rice was released from the Ravens, and a maelstrom of criticism against Rice, Goodell, and the NFL ensued. When we reflect on the timeline of events, it's easy to understand why so many people and organizations have reacted to the NFL in general and Goodell in particular with harsh criticism. It's hard to believe that the NFL didn't have access to the in-elevator footage until earlier this month when TMZ released it, and it's even harder to feel confident that Goodell and the NFL have taken domestic violence seriously. However, things are a changing, and they are a-changing quick. Perhaps that is the silver lining to revelations of violence off the field, which also brought Minnesota Vikings' Adrian Peterson into the public eye for a spanking that has been qualified as child abuse. In a disappointingly familiar vein, Peterson's punishment has been augmented after public outcry.

Part of the progress here is not just that the NFL changed it's domestic violence policies, or that Rice was released, or that Goodell himself acknowledged how terribly he handled the case initially. What's most heartening has been the other NFL players and commentators speaking out against domestic violence and tying in the culture surrounding the NFL that devalues women and excuses barbaric behavior. And whether or not the motivating sentiment is concern for the bottom line versus concern for women's safety and respect, now major sponsors are letting the NFL know they are unhappy with the preferential treatment the organization has shown members who commit flagrant infractions of laws and common decency. From Budweiser to Visa to McDonald's to Radisson Hotels, the NFL is having to answer now not only to their fans and to congress, but to their major sponsors who are letting them know in no uncertain terms that violence from players will not be taken lightly, and that is a significant step in the right direction. 
<![CDATA[UCONN pays out $1.3 million to settle rape cases]]>Wed, 06 Aug 2014 14:28:01 GMThttp://www.peopleagainstrapeculture.org/progress/uconn-pays-out-13-million-to-settle-rape-cases
One of the first schools to get high-profile attention over mishandling of sexual assault cases according to Title IX, The University of Connecticut decided to settle with the 5 plaintiffs. It's disappointing that after the evidence and testimony put forth, and ultimately their decision to yield, UCONN maintains no wrongdoing in how they handled these 5 cases. Chairman of the Board of Trustees Lawrence D. McHugh asserts the settlement was to avoid any prolonged haggling, or as it would appear, looking terrible in the public eye. While the dismissive tone of UCONN's concession is irritating, plaintiff attorney Gloria Allred makes the significant point that this high-profile decision and big payout will send a message to other survivors and Universities that Title IX is in place for the protection of students and Universities must uphold and carry out appropriate action especially in cases of sexual assault. This settlement can't possible make up for the multiple traumas these plaintiffs suffered, from their perpetrators to their coaches to the administrative officials and systems that failed to offer them the same support and opportunity their perpetrators got. But it sure is an important step in the right direction, in being an example of hope for other victims, and an example to other Universities.
<![CDATA[Sexual Assault Training improves at U.S. Air Force]]>Sat, 26 Jul 2014 20:16:38 GMThttp://www.peopleagainstrapeculture.org/progress/sexual-assault-training-improves-at-us-air-forcePicture
"There is a very clear link between sexual harassment and sexual assault," Col. Phil Stewart, former commander of the 9th Reconnaissance Wing, told his airmen. It's hard to say it but that alone is progress for the U.S. military which, institutionally, has a severe learning curve on understanding sexual violence. This is evidenced by how prevalent assaults are within ranks and how problematic handling of crimes are dealt with on a systematic basis. But things might be changing, "One of the goals of the new training is to push airmen to be proactive and help identify sexual predators. They're learning to intervene when they witness inappropriate behavior and challenge internalized beliefs that may place the blame of sexual assault on victims." Love it! Check out this great article from NotiNvisible.org on the progress being made!