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Archive for the ‘rape/sexual abuse’ Category

My latest article for Daily Life.. it was also lead story on The Age today:

How to stop child abuse and sexual abuse is not as simple. But as an observer you have this frustration, this helplessness and this stomach-churning revulsion and so, I understand the temptation Joe Hildebrand feels in making the solution simple, though he is mistaken. Only those with incredible strength and patience work in the field of family violence and child abuse because the problem is just that nightmarish and crafting the solution is that protracted as a process. If you can’t handle the complexity, if you’re feeling yourself beginning to break, beginning to reach for big dumb hammers to crack this nut then you have to step away, you’ve become part of the problem.

 

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After all of this, there is also this..

There is a better way to talk and teach about sexual negotiation and consent, a more realistic and ethical approach that would, I believe, also be more successful in reducing sexual assault. It begins with thinking of sex as the outcome of a collaboration rather than a battle, as dancing rather than fighting.

It’s a wondrful piece in the Sydney Morning Herald from Emily Maguire, who is just as wonderful in person, I must say.

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The whole debate about victim-blaming, drinking and rape blew up in Australia again this week after Mia Freedman wrote a piece along the lines of the controversial article by Emily Yoffe in Slate.

One of my posts, originally part of a series (here, here, here, here and here), was republished at Women’s Agenda in response.

Was I more or less stupid than the girl who passes out drunk? More or less cavalier than her? More or less naive? More or less self-harming? More or less slutty?

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Any article referring to the sexual abuse of a child by an adult as an affair is a little bit mind-blowing, but this one struck me harder than some because the victim is so young. The wording in this article undoubtedly reflects the idea that boys can’t be sexually abused by women, they can only get lucky. So, I just want to provide some context to this piece. My daughter is eight years old and she is in a class with many nine year old boys. Some of those boys still believe in Santa Claus. They are still young enough to cry when they miss their mothers. Boys are kids. One does not have ‘sex’ with a kid. For fucksake.

(Don’t read the comments on that article).

 

 

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If you haven’t seen an army chief get really cranky about the degradation of women by some defence members then you need to see this.

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This is a good piece of writing from Lizi Patch over at Daily Life, “My son saw violent porn”.

I was looking at this through the eyes of my 11-year-old. He could see that there were gradations of porn. Some of it, though an unrealistic view of sex between two consenting adults, was bearable and allowed you to retain a basic positive belief in the world. But then there was the degrading, shockingly violent porn that showed him a dark underbelly of an online world that until that moment was largely populated by Minecraft and Harry Potter. Faced with this hideous new information, he simply didn’t know where to file it.

Also on this topic, previous posts on blue milk:

What would you do if you found your 13 year old child’s porn viewing history in your browser?

And,

Guest post: Being a feminist and raising a lad.

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From Rachel Cooke in The Guardian with “The idea of ‘ethical art’ is nonsense. We have to separate art from life”.

Last Friday morning, I stood in front of this cartoon, a cup of tea in my hand, and I thought yet again about the fraught line between a man’s life and his work. Moments before, I’d read that the Tate had removed from its online collection 34 prints by Graham Ovenden, the artist who was last week found guilty at Truro crown court of six charges of indecency with a child and one count of indecent assault. And while I didn’t disapprove of this decision one little bit (the gallery, quite properly, is seeking information about whether any of these images of children portray Ovenden’s victims), I could feel an old anxiety creeping over me.

Where, I wonder, will this investigation end? According to what I read, the Tate is also considering the “wider ethics” of showing work by Ovenden, and until this review is complete, these 34 prints “will not be available to view by appointment”. Wider ethics. What does this mean, exactly? It sounds a touch North Korean. Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that the images in question do not portray Ovenden’s victims. What then? Will the Tate return them to the public view? Surely it must, for if it is unethical to show work by a paedophile, what are they going to do about all the other artists who had dubious sex lives? Unless, of course, this rule only applies to perverts who are living.

It’s baffling to me, the belief that art must be “ethical”, as if it were so much fair trade chocolate. It’s so much more complicated than that. The laughable idea that it can pass or fail some kind of tick-box test! What was art in March must surely be art in April. You can’t un-art art, though Hitler had a go, when he decided that what was modern was also degenerate and set about destroying it and, far worse, those who made it.

There are those who will say that Ovenden’s images of children are now revealed to be porn rather than art, but that argument crumbles to dust in this case, since the subjects of many of the Tate’s images aren’t even naked. Just to be clear, though – even if the children were naked, I wouldn’t feel any differently. The qualities that won them a place in the Tate’s collection can’t be extinguished – rubbed out, like chalk on a board – by the perversions of the man who created them. If those qualities now make you feel uncomfortable as you look on, well, that is a part of their power. Live with it.

I disagree with much of this.

You know, I haven’t ever seen child porn (thank god) but I would bet that some of it is quite beautiful. By that I mean, some of the photographs and films are probably artfully composed and professionally shot with very pretty children as their subjects. It is still child porn though, and producing it involved the same amount of pain, abuse, degradation and manipulation as any amateur child porn image.

The measure for whether something is ethical for us to consume or display is not beauty or artistic merit (and nor is it the degree of nudity), it is about something bigger than that.

Sure, you can’t un-art art, but being art doesn’t over-ride problems of exploitation, particularly when it involves children. I don’t want to be limited to only consuming art, music and literature produced by those who lived admirable lives and nor do I want to be limited to only seeing art which doesn’t disturb me, but given art affords a certain level of power to the artist and the audience at the expense of the muse, contrary to Rachel Cooke’s view, it is always worth considering the ethics of that power.

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henry-rollins-PBKM_o_tn

Oh Henry, you and your big punk heart.

There is, I guess, cell phone generated video content of parts of the crime. It went “viral” on the internet and brought attention to the events.

I got through a few minutes of it but was too disgusted to watch the rest.

The case, the verdict and the surrounding circumstances open up a huge conversation.

These are a few of the things that I have been thinking about…

.. Things get better when women get more equality. That is a bit obvious but I think it leads to better results up the road. If it’s a man’s world as they say, then men, your world is a poorly run carnage fest.

It is obvious that the two offenders saw the victim as some one that could be treated as a thing. This is not about sex, it is about power and control. I guess that is what I am getting at. Sex was probably not the hardest thing for the two to get, so that wasn’t the objective. When you hear the jokes being made during the crime, it is the purest contempt.

So, how do you fix that? I’m just shooting rubber bands at the night sky but here are a few ideas: Put women’s studies in high school the curriculum from war heroes to politicians, writers, speakers, activists, revolutionaries and let young people understand that women have been kicking ass in high threat conditions for ages and they are worthy of respect.

Total sex ed in school. Learn how it all works. Learn what the definition of statutory rape is and that it is rape, that date rape is rape, that rape is rape.

In the spirit of equal time, sites like Huffington Post should have sections for male anatomy hanging out instead of just the idiotic celebrity “side boob” and “nip slip” camera ops. I have no idea what that would be like to have a camera in my face at every turn, looking for “the” shot.

Link via Karen Pickering and Helen S.

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Over at Colorlines is a summary of the 5 things boys need to learn about rape from Zerlina Maxwell. I love the one about teaching boys not to be bystanders, especially.

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Gawker is publishing some really good writing at the moment. Here’s a great piece, “Slanted American Tradition: Broken Children and Unbroken Barriers” from Rosa Cabrera about raising a son and her reflections upon violence in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings (the quote below describes a minor sexual assault):

Two months before giving birth to my son, I walk the four blocks from the train station to see my mother. A boy catches my eye. That looming look in his eyes has something in it that should not belong to a young boy. He begins walking my direction. I hold the heavy door open for him to walk into the apartment building standing on the Concourse of Hip-Hop’s crowded womb.

I hit the elevator button. I notice the baby flesh he still hasn’t lost in the back of his brown hands as they grip a bag of groceries. He asks me questions about the child my body has been carrying for seven months. There’s a quiet fascination, and a strange nervousness in him that I’m embarrassed to fear. I walk into the elevator with him, hating myself for thinking about the knife I forgot at home.  The door slides to a close, and a hand quickly reaches for my shirt to expose my swelling breasts. I knock his hand away.

His face never shifts.

He’s done this before, at least once. The space in the elevator squeezes us closer together. I want to hurt him, but I realize this is a child who could hurt the boy still growing inside me. I ask him what the hell is wrong with him.

And.

I look at the mix of teenage boys and middle-aged men marking the corners with bodies that rock with a tilt. Their faces carry the same stone as the boy in the elevator. The Concourse turf is womanless. I want to not feel so far away. I look down at my swelling womb and wonder what it must feel like to have a son standing among those slanting male bodies.

I relate to that experience she describes there in the second quote, of suddenly looking at men and older boys around me and wondering if this is who my son would become. I remember starting to see these boys and men as boy babies grown up, rather than as male people. It made me see men in a new light – they were now possibilities for who my baby could become, a baby I had grown inside my body. It was a new way of interacting with masculinity with all its good and bad manifestations.

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