Bill Cosby is a serial rapist

I’ve been posting stories about Bill Cosby’s record of rape on Reel Girl’s Facebook page for years. The stories from different women, spanning years back, have always been strikingly similar. Cosby invites them to a private place to help them on their career. He offers them a drink, and the next thing they know, they are half conscious and naked. Why did it take “real” journalists so long to take these allegations seriously? Here is the best and most honest story I’ve read from journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic. Please read it.

My name is Monica Lewinsky

Monica Lewinsky continues to tell her story, and I am happy she is speaking. From the first time I saw Lewinsky’s face on my TV screen, what upset me most was the repetition of the same old narrative, worldwide, through images and text: a powerful man was being brought down by the sexuality of a young woman. A man I voted for as a woman in my twenties because I thought that he would do good things for women.

It is this narrative and text that Lewinsky is speaking about right now. Finally, she’s taking control of her story.

So many say Lewinsky is just being used, she’s talking now because she’s trying to destroy Hillary’s run for president. Once again, this is Lewinsky’s story, not the Clintons’ narrative. Why don’t you listen to, and talk about, what she is saying instead of why you think she’s speaking?

Here is one of my favorite lines from Lewinsky’s speech: “Let me tell you about being publicly separated from your truth…Being publicly separated from your truth is one of the classic triggers of anxiety, depression, and self loathing. And the greater the distance between the way people want you to be and the you you actually are, the greater will be your anxiety, depression, sense of failure and shame.”

She also says this: “The problem is that I believe in the power of story, in the power of stories to inspire, comfort, educate, and change things for the better, fictional stories, stories from history, and yes, news stories.”

I do too. That’s the reason I started this blog, because I’m tired of the same old story. I want something better for my kids. From what I can tell, Lewinsky does too. Please watch this video.

Phil Plait of Slate: ‘I stand with Emma Watson’

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer. He is a public speaker, science evangelizer, author of Death From the Skies, and he is a feminist.

Today, on Slate he writes:

I signed up to back HeForShe with my voice and with my words… Some will go to any lengths to oppress women; loathsome knuckle-dragging Men’s Rights Advocates and their ilk have already shown what they will do in order to shut women up. I’ve seen many, many media outlets make that the story, but I refuse to do so; they crave the attention, and I will not feed it to them. I know how to stand up for my friends. I know how to write, and how to make myself heard. And I can hope that other men will do this as well, because while I don’t know the whole solution, I know a part of it, a significant part of it, is just showing that we are listening, that we care, and we want to help. And that’s why I stand with Emma Watson.

 

Thank you to Plait for joining HeForShe. Who’s next?

Hey guys, time to man up and speak out for Emma Watson

After Emma Watson AKA Hermione introduced the HeForShe campaign, making a brilliant and impassioned speech to the U.N. about feminism and asking men to join the movement, she received death and sex crime threats publicly posted on 4Chan. As punishment for being a feminist, Watson was publicly warned, The Mary Sue reports:

In addition to threatening to commit a sex crime against the actress and activist, users also spread a #RIPEmma hashtag on Twitter along with pictures of a fake report on the actress’ “death.”

 

I’m only  including one comment from 4 chan’s b board here; if you can stomach it, Death and Taxes has several classically vitriolic threats in their coverage on the harassment. But here’s a statement that perfectly demonstrates the boo-hoo babyman knee-jerk rhetoric behind the abuse:

 

she makes stupid feminist speeches at UN, and now her nudes will be online, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

It is amazing to me that this website is up and ticking while Tumblr took less than 24 hours to remove a list of rapists put up by University of Chicago students who were frustrated by the systemic lack of protection for students at the school. On the internet, threatening to rape is allowed but protecting students from rapists is banned.

The victim of 4Chan’s harassment isn’t only Watson, of course, but all women and girls. We are all being warned that if we dare to speak out, to tell the truth, to demand equality, or call ourselves feminists, we will be ridiculed, targeted, shamed and humiliated if not raped and murdered. This is happening legally in the USA.

In response to the threats, Melissa Wardy of Pigtail Pals writes a blog titled “Speak All the Louder”

The reaction of these men who use fear to promote their power is a measure meant to terrorize us to ‘stay in our place’.  To shame empathetic men and to overpower outspoken women. To stunt our thinking and growth as a society. To silence our voices.

 

I think this kind of man is an excellent reminder of why we must speak all the louder.

 

Peggy Orenstein, best-selling author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter makes another point, urging men to speak up for Watson and against violence towards women. On her Facebook page, Orenstein writes:

Women can (and should) express outrage about the death threats against our beloved Emma W, but I think that given her message about the value of feminism to both men and women, and how increasingly important we know it is that boys, especially, learn to stand up and speak out around violence against women this would be a good time for guys to step up!!

 

I could not agree more. All males including fathers, teachers, doctors, athletes, musicians, writers, artists, students, boys everywhere, now is the time to speak publicly for Watson, for feminism, and to take action to stop violence against women. If you are silent, you are part of the problem.

Neil Gaiman, author of Coraline, posted his picture on Tumblr with #HeForShe written on his palm, and captioned: “Supporting it as a feminist and as a human being…” If males worldwide publicly say yes to feminism, violence against women will stop.

Sign up for #HeForShe here. Speak out for feminism whenever and wherever you can. Join the movement. Change the world. The time is now.

Show your kids Emma Watson’s speech on feminism

Please show your children this video of Emma Watson’s excellent speech to the U.N. about feminism. Launching the “HeForShe” campaign, Watson is changing the public face of feminism and urging men to join the movement.

While watching the video, ask yourself: Why is Emma Watson one of the few actresses who dares to be a spokesperson for feminism? If Watson had not grown up playing the brave and brilliant Hermione, do you think she would have bloomed into the courageous, public feminist that she is, calling for the social, political, and economic equality of women and men? And most importantly, what would happen if more girls and women played heroes in movies and books? What would happen if more children grew up experiencing  narratives where females are celebrated for their skills instead of for their appearance? Then, how many of the next generation, girls and boys, do you think would proudly call themselves feminists?

In her speech, Emma Watson says: “No country in the world can yet say they have achieved gender equality.” But why have so few fantasy worlds achieved gender equality as well, worlds created for children, places where anything should be possible?

Even Hermione, of course, is not the star of the Harry Potter series. She, like so many other Minority Feisty, plays the essential sidekick. She is there to help the male star of his 8 eponymous movies complete his quest to vanquish the villain and save the world. J. K. Rowling was told by her publisher to conceal her gender with her initials in order to sell her book, and that incredible act of sexism happened our modern, ‘post-feminist’ world.

Here are some statistics from the Geena Davis institute on Gender and Media:

  • Males outnumber females 3 to 1 in family films. In contrast, females comprise just over 50% of the population in the United States. Even more staggering is the fact that this ratio, as seen in family films, is the same as it was in 1946.
  • Only 16% of protagonists in film are female
  • Females are almost four times as likely as males to be shown in sexy attire. Further, females are nearly twice as likely as males to be shown with a diminutive waistline. Generally unrealistic figures are more likely to be seen on females than males.
  • Females are also underrepresented behind the camera. Across 1,565 content creators, only 7% of directors, 13% of writers, and 20% of producers are female. This translates to 4.8 males working behind-the-scenes to every one female.
  • From 2006 to 2009, not one female character was depicted in G-rated family films in the field of medical science, as a business leader, in law, or politics. In these films, 80.5% of all working characters are male and 19.5% are female, which is a contrast to real world statistics, where women comprise 50% of the workforce.

Please also look at Reel Girl’s Gallery of Girls Gone Missing From Children’s Movies documenting the years from 2011 – 2014.

If we can’t even imagine gender equality, how can we create it in the “real” world?  Fantasy meets reality meets fantasy meets reality.

Once again, I ask you to show Hermione’s speech to your children.The video and transcript are below.

Today we are launching a campaign called “HeForShe.”

I am reaching out to you because I need your help. We want to end gender inequality—and to do that we need everyone to be involved.

This is the first campaign of its kind at the UN: we want to try and galvanize as many men and boys as possible to be advocates for gender equality. And we don’t just want to talk about it, but make sure it is tangible.

I was appointed six months ago and the more I have spoken about feminism the more I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop.

For the record, feminism by definition is: “The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.”

I started questioning gender-based assumptions when at eight I was confused at being called “bossy,” because I wanted to direct the plays we would put on for our parents—but the boys were not.

When at 14 I started being sexualized by certain elements of the press.

When at 15 my girlfriends started dropping out of their sports teams because they didn’t want to appear “muscly.”

When at 18 my male friends were unable to express their feelings.

I decided I was a feminist and this seemed uncomplicated to me. But my recent research has shown me that feminism has become an unpopular word.

Apparently I am among the ranks of women whose expressions are seen as too strong, too aggressive, isolating, anti-men and, unattractive.

Why is the word such an uncomfortable one?

I am from Britain and think it is right that as a woman I am paid the same as my male counterparts. I think it is right that I should be able to make decisions about my own body. I think it is right that women be involved on my behalf in the policies and decision-making of my country. I think it is right that socially I am afforded the same respect as men. But sadly I can say that there is no one country in the world where all women can expect to receive these rights.

No country in the world can yet say they have achieved gender equality.

These rights I consider to be human rights but I am one of the lucky ones. My life is a sheer privilege because my parents didn’t love me less because I was born a daughter. My school did not limit me because I was a girl. My mentors didn’t assume I would go less far because I might give birth to a child one day. These influencers were the gender equality ambassadors that made who I am today. They may not know it, but they are the inadvertent feminists who are. And we need more of those.  And if you still hate the word—it is not the word that is important but the idea and the ambition behind it. Because not all women have been afforded the same rights that I have. In fact, statistically, very few have been.

In 1997, Hilary Clinton made a famous speech in Beijing about women’s rights. Sadly many of the things she wanted to change are still a reality today.

But what stood out for me the most was that only 30 per cent of her audience were male. How can we affect change in the world when only half of it is invited or feel welcome to participate in the conversation?

Men—I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue too.

Because to date, I’ve seen my father’s role as a parent being valued less by society despite my needing his presence as a child as much as my mother’s.

I’ve seen young men suffering from mental illness unable to ask for help for fear it would make them look less “macho”—in fact in the UK suicide is the biggest killer of men between 20-49; eclipsing road accidents, cancer and coronary heart disease. I’ve seen men made fragile and insecure by a distorted sense of what constitutes male success. Men don’t have the benefits of equality either.

We don’t often talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes but I can see that that they are and that when they are free, things will change for women as a natural consequence.

If men don’t have to be aggressive in order to be accepted women won’t feel compelled to be submissive. If men don’t have to control, women won’t have to be controlled.

Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong… It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum not as two opposing sets of ideals.

If we stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by what we are—we can all be freer and this is what HeForShe is about. It’s about freedom.

I want men to take up this mantle. So their daughters, sisters and mothers can be free from prejudice but also so that their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human too—reclaim those parts of themselves they abandoned and in doing so be a more true and complete version of themselves.

You might be thinking who is this Harry Potter girl? And what is she doing up on stage at the UN. It’s a good question and trust me I have been asking myself the same thing. I don’t know if I am qualified to be here. All I know is that I care about this problem. And I want to make it better.

And having seen what I’ve seen—and given the chance—I feel it is my duty to say something. English statesman Edmund Burke said: “All that is needed for the forces of evil to triumph is for enough good men and women to do nothing.”

In my nervousness for this speech and in my moments of doubt I’ve told myself firmly—if not me, who, if not now, when. If you have similar doubts when opportunities are presented to you I hope those words might be helpful.

Because the reality is that if we do nothing it will take 75 years, or for me to be nearly a hundred before women can expect to be paid the same as men for the same work. 15.5 million girls will be married in the next 16 years as children. And at current rates it won’t be until 2086 before all rural African girls will be able to receive a secondary education.

If you believe in equality, you might be one of those inadvertent feminists I spoke of earlier.

And for this I applaud you.

We are struggling for a uniting word but the good news is we have a uniting movement. It is called HeForShe. I am inviting you to step forward, to be seen to speak up, To be the he for she. And to ask yourself if not me, who, if not now when.

Thank you.

 

Criminal cyber-stalkers upload stolen photos as profile pics, send mass Tweets

Last night, like many of you, I Tweeted that to look at stolen pictures of Jennifer Lawrence is to participate in her assault. Today, I woke up to multiple Tweets on my account where the sender used a naked picture of Jennifer Lawrence as a profile pic. I’m assuming the picture is one of the stolen ones, though I’m not doing the research to find out. I Tweeted  that I would be forwarding these Tweets to the FBI, to which I got this response: “Stop harassing me you fucking cunt.”

Last night, I posted on Facebook and Twitter that, contrary to reports on the internet from People Magazine and CNN, the stolen photos of Jennifer Lawrence and other female celebrities is not a “scandal” but a sex crime.

I was relieved I didn’t have to argue language when I saw the LA Times report:

The FBI is aware of the allegations concerning computer intrusions and the unlawful release of material involving high profile individuals, and is addressing the matter,” an FBI spokesperson told the LA Times.

 

In spite of getting called a cunt (yet again) it is good to be able to forward info to the FBI’s ongoing investigation. It’s crucial that the U.S. Government take crimes against women seriously, and it’s a relief to see a fast and public step in that direction by the FBI. It would be nice if the media followed suit, not only using the word “crime” instead of “scandal” but by allotting crimes against women the news status they deserve.

Last week, the writer, filmmaker, and activist Anita Sarkeesian was forced to leave her house because of threats of violence against her. Sarkeesian’s work is about violence against women in video games. Those who attack Sarkeesian claim that violence against women does not exist. I suppose the irony here is lost on them. Why isn’t more mainstream media covering the Sarkeesian story? Sarkeesian is a hero-freedom-fighter-cyber-warrior whose actions are dedicated helping a new generation of children to grow up in a safer world. So why don’t parents know her name? When are we all going to start taking crimes against women seriously and stop ignoring or trivializing the safety and privacy of half of our population in the USA?

 

Join the dissent

“The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.”

Do you agree with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg?

Do something. Don’t stand by and watch women continue to be denied human rights. Tell Washington that the U.S. government is discriminating against women and that is not acceptable in America. Sign the petition from Planned Parenthood and please give money. If we all do something and take action, we can create change.

The letter from Planned Parenthood is pasted here, follow the links at the bottom to sign it and to give money.

Subject: JOIN THE DISSENT

To The Supreme Court:

To the five members of the Supreme Court who have given bosses — based on their own personal beliefs — the power to deny women coverage for birth control:

I dissent. Your ruling is an insult to the generations of women who have fought for control over their own bodies and their own futures. It is a step backward, and a threat to the future of women’s health and rights in America.

To employers like Hobby Lobby, who believe that their personal beliefs are more important than women’s fundamental rights:

I dissent. Religious freedom means that every person should be allowed to follow her own conscience, whether she owns a company or works for an hourly wage. Women earn health care coverage the same way they earn a paycheck — and they shouldn’t have it taken away because of the personal views of their employers.

To the politicians who support the Supreme Court’s decision — and want to go even further to deny more women access to birth control:

I dissent. I will continue to fight for the right of every woman to make her own private medical decisions without interference from anyone — not her boss, not politicians, not the Supreme Court. I call on lawmakers at every level to take immediate action to protect women’s access to health care no matter what their bosses say.

This is about our health and our lives. This is about our fundamental right to have control over our own bodies. This is about justice. And I’m not done fighting back.

Signed,
[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]

 

Follow this link to sign the petition and to donate funds.

Religious orgs want exemption from LGBT hiring order

The Talking Point Memo reports:

The letter, first reported by The Atlantic, was sent on Tuesday by 14 representatives, including the president of Gordon College, an Erie County, Pa., executive and the national faith vote director for Obama for America 2012, of the faith community.

 

“Without a robust religious exemption,” they wrote, “this expansion of hiring rights will come at an unreasonable cost to the common good, national unity and religious freedom.”

 

The leaders noted that the Senate-passed Employment Non-Discrimination Act included a religious exemption:

 

“Our concern about an executive order without a religious exemption is about more than the direct financial impact on religious organizations. While the nation has undergone incredible social and legal change over the last decade, we still live in a nation with different beliefs about sexuality. We must find a way to respect diversity of opinion on this issue in a way that respects the dignity of all parties to the best of our ability. There is no perfect solution that will make all parties completely happy.”

 

This is exactly what I just blogged about would happen, should and must happen, because it makes no sense to discriminate against one group because of “religious freedom” and not be allowed to discriminate against any group.
Here’s what I wrote a couple days ago:

Pregnancy is a medical condition, birth control is preventative health care

Posted on

Pregnancy is a medical condition. I had an emergency c-section with my first child, not a rare end to a pregnancy in the USA. Pregnancy related diseases include ectopic pregnancies (also life-risking), blood clots, urinary tract infections, thrush, severe back pain, and the list goes on.

How is it that the Supreme Court of the USA decided today that businesses do not have to cover health care for women? Freedom of religion? Seriously? So why do Christian Scientist parents get prosecuted by our courts for not taking their children to get treatment? Why isn’t that “choice” freedom of religion?

Why is it OK for religions to decree that women cannot have health care but it is not OK for them to demand that gay employees or black employees don’t get health care? Female bodies are different than male bodies and require different medical treatment. Why is it OK to deny one gender the medical treatment that their bodies require? Is the reason that sex is optional, therefore the medical condition of pregnancy is optional, therefore preventative health care is not required by law? Putting aside the situation of rape (which is just “rape hysteria” anyway, right) are we saying that medical conditions created by optional behavior should not receive health care? So if I choose to go skiing and break my leg, I shouldn’t get my health care paid for by my employer? If I choose to go on a hike and get bit by a tic, my employer should not be required to pay for treatment for my lyme disease?

I am ashamed to be an American today.

(I’m still wondering about Christian Scientists, by the way. Why should a Christian Scientist business leader be forced to pay medical expenses for any employee? Especially one who would be willing to let her own child die for that belief?)

 

 

Fellows from conservative think tanks hold conference on rape “hysteria”

The conservative Independent Women’s Forum held a conference last week called “Rape Culture and Sexual Assault.”

I’m going to go through the press release, beginning with the opening:

The White House has embraced the statistic that 1 in 5 women is sexually assaulted while in college…

 

Embraced is not the verb I would use. Do you know how hard it’s been and how many years we have been working to get the U.S. government to acknowledge that violence against women is epidemic is the USA?

The White House has released its “first ever report” on the issue and are using it to push their policy agenda…

 

Think the IWF put “first ever report” in scare quotes because it’s such a silly concept or because it’s so shocking that its taken until 2014 for the U.S. government to take note that its most honored educational institutions are not protecting female students?

“Push their policy agenda”? Which is…um… human rights for women?

But many question the validity of the White House’s one-in-five statistic, even as those who challenge this figure are silenced as being uncaring about women…

 

Would that “silencing” be referring to George Will who questioned the stat in the Washington Post in his syndicated column that runs in newspapers all over this country, where he also called rape survivors “a coveted status that confers privilege”? About the stat, Will wrote:

The statistics are: One in five women is sexually assaulted while in college, and only 12 percent of assaults are reported. Simple arithmetic demonstrates that if the 12 percent reporting rate is correct, the 20 percent assault rate is preposterous. Mark Perry of the American Enterprise Institute notes, for example, that in the four years 2009 to 2012 there were 98 reported sexual assaults at Ohio State. That would be 12 percent of 817 total out of a female student population of approximately 28,000, for a sexual assault rate of approximately 2.9 percent — too high but nowhere near 20 percent.

 

To which Jezebel responded:

Rape is underreported, here is how many women reported being raped, therefore rape is overreported. These reports are flawed! Can’t you tell by these flawed reports? Your honor, I rest my case.

 

Who reads Jezebel by the way? Same influential, power-playing crowd who reads Reel Girl? Unlike Will, Jezebel hasn’t won a Pulitzer yet, but I’m sure it’ll receive that international honored any day now. Continuing with this theme of “silencing,” a feminist responded to Will’s column, writing in the Huffington Post:

At its most basic level, as a scholar who has studied violence against women for 20 years, I’m struck that neither I nor any of my colleagues who have devoted decades to producing the best research on these issues has ever had the opportunity to tell the story in this way in such a prestigious outlet as The Washington Post. Instead we are relegated to the back pages of online outlets like The Huffington Post and Slate.com. Don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly grateful that my voice can be heard in these outlets, but I’m also painfully aware that millions more people, and especially people (men) with privilege, read The Washington Post than The Huffington Post blog pages…

 

But back to the IWF press release. Next line:

The IWF takes any accusation of sexual assault very seriously. But we are concerned that there is a potentially harmful hysteria developing about this issue. Where does this come from? Where is it going? And who will be harmed?

In 2014, we are still using the word hysteria around women’s issues? Hysteria, in case you don’t know, comes from the Greek word “hyster” for womb, the “ancient” belief being that women are crazy because they have wombs. A better word for America’s response to rape might be apathy.

So who is on the IWF panel? If you watch news channels or read news media,  you know these “experts” and the prestigious think tanks they’re affiliated with: Christina Hoff Summers is an author and Fellow of the America Enterprise Institute; Stuart Taylor is an author and a Fellow at the Brookings Institute; Cathy Young is a columnist for Newsday;  Andrea Bottner is a lawyer and a former director of the Office of International Women’s Issues for the Bush Administration. It’s great to know that Bush put someone in the USA in charge of international women’s issues who believes in rape hysteria.

 

Straight Talk Panel on “Rape Culture” and Sexual Assault – See more at: http://iwf.org/media/2794316/#sthash.GOGH0pTl.dpuf

Pregnancy is a medical condition, birth control is preventative health care

Pregnancy is a medical condition. I had an emergency c-section with my first child, not a rare end to a pregnancy in the USA. Pregnancy related diseases include ectopic pregnancies (also life-risking), blood clots, urinary tract infections, thrush, severe back pain, and the list goes on.

How is it that the Supreme Court of the USA decided today that businesses do not have to cover health care for women? Freedom of religion? Seriously? So why do Christian Scientist parents get prosecuted by our courts for not taking their children to get treatment? Why isn’t that “choice” freedom of religion?

Why is it OK for religions to decree that women cannot have health care but it is not OK for them to demand that gay employees or black employees don’t get health care? Female bodies are different than male bodies and require different medical treatment. Why is it OK to deny one gender the medical treatment that their bodies require? Is the reason that sex is optional, therefore the medical condition of pregnancy is optional, therefore preventative health care is not required by law? Putting aside the situation of rape (which is just “rape hysteria” anyway, right) are we saying that medical conditions created by optional behavior should not receive health care? So if I choose to go skiing and break my leg, I shouldn’t get my health care paid for by my employer? If I choose to go on a hike and get bit by a tic, my employer should not be required to pay for treatment for my lyme disease?

I am ashamed to be an American today.