What’s Sex Got To Do With… The Maryville Case?

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In 2012, a 14-year-old girl named Daisy Coleman was raped by her older brother’s friends who were seniors at the time after a house party in Maryville, Missouri under the influence of alcohol; the rape was recorded on one of the boys cell phones. Matt Barnett, the perpetrator, asserted that the sex was consensual, but the story that Daisy Coleman told asserted otherwise.

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When this case was first brought up, it was ignored and Daisy Coleman received a lot of scrutiny from the media and classmates. Because she had “blacked out” around the time that the rape had occurred, many people speculated her claims and labeled her as wild, a slut, etc. Upon the case being taken to court, it was dismissed because Daisy’s claims were not “credible” due to the state she was in, but also for political reasons because Matt Barnett’s grandfather was a trooper for 32 years and a four-term state representative for Missouri.

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The case was closed in 2012, and then reopened in 2014 due to help from The Kansas City star who published a long story on Daisy’s accounts. The story gained national recognition, and the nation was disgusted at how the small town of Maryville, MO turned its back on this young rape victim. This began to spread through social media, and the case was reopened again in 2014 where Matt Barnett pleaded guilty of endangerment.

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The fact that Daisy Coleman was shot down, criticized, and ignored when she first tried to share her story lends to the issue of why women who are raped are often afraid to tell anyone about it. They fear that because they are a woman and were a victim of power based violence and sexual assault, they are insignificant and no one will appeal to their assertions. Without the help of advocates across the country and social media, Daisy Coleman would have had to face shame and a sense of unrest for her entire life.

Why do you think that her claims were so heavily combated by the society she lived in at first even though there was video evidence? Do you think the case would have been ignored without the national outcry from the Kansas City Star’s article? Why do you think it is that Matt Barnett pleaded guilty for endangerment when he was supposed to get charged for rape?

What’s Sex Got To Do With…The Military?

According to servicewomen.org, despite 25 years of investigation under the Pentagon due to sexual assault cases in the military, military cases of rape, sexual assault and harassment continue to grow. One would think that an institution of our country that prides itself on justice and valor would be different, however, tens of thousands of unwanted sexual acts are committed yearly in the military, and only a fraction are reported. Those that are expected to be covered up and not talked about.

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These statistics are shocking for multiple reasons. One of the most is because these assaults occur in all realms of the military, including present Active Duty, the Reserves, the National Guard and in the military academies. More importantly, there is a culture of victim-blaming, lack of accountability, and lack of liable command in these situations and it has become prevalent. These statistics threaten the strength, readiness, and morale of the United States military system. It takes away validity from our nation and US national security.

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Recently, a New York Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand has been making a bipartisan push to change how the military deals with cases of sexual assault with the help of Col. Don Christensen, former chief prosecutor of the Air Force. They are hoping to bring recognition to the Military Justice Improvement Act, which aims to remove commanders from the process of deciding whether or not to prosecute sexual assault cases. The issue with this is that commanders are oftentimes friends with both the alleged victim and perpetrator, and they become the enablers in this situation.

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The current situation present in the military is no different than that of college campuses. Both contain a lack of accountability, however, at colleges, it is that of university administration in failing to handle cases properly. Also, in both institutions, the misconception that victims ask for it and are at fault in sexual assault cases is present, when in reality, victims are never to blame. Another similarity between the two is that there are similar programs present at Vanderbilt and within the military to combat sexual assault and educate people about it.

Why do you think that there is such a heavy push-back on sexual assault and measures of prevention are just now being brought up with both institutions?

What’s Sex Got to Do With… India’s Raw Star?

Just a few days ago, on the Indian show Raw Star, a female contestant in the singing competition was physically assaulted by a man in the audience. The man initially began teasing and taunting the contestant, and when she protested, he stood up, approached the her, and slapped her on the face.

American culture is surely not the only one where women are painted as submissive to men and susceptible to their policing. Power and privilege lie in the hands of men. Gender hierarchies in which women are viewed beneath men aid in the objectification of women’s bodies and the desire of control over said bodies. Male dominance is embedded in cultures and societies across the entire globe, India included.

Many men assume women exist merely to serve them, and when that “service” is unsatisfactory (or in some cases does not even present itself), then the woman is at fault and subject to violent consequences.

Remember the UC-Santa Barbara shooting where a young man went on a killing spree because of his disgust with the women in his life who didn’t freely give themselves to him like they were “supposed to”?

Male dominance and power also connect to issues of morality and social institutions. The man who assaulted the Raw Star contestant claimed that as a Muslim woman, she should be wearing “such a short dress.” We see this rhetoric of using clothing choice or behaviors as an indication of a person’s morality constantly throughout hegemonic society, despite its complete unreliability.

Indian women, like others around the world, are under high scrutiny–unwarranted scrutiny. Men find that they have the right to police women’s bodies, just like the attacker on Raw Star, who told police that he slapped the female contestant to make the point that, “since it makes him so sexually attracted to her, her clothing could ‘damage the brains’ of her other male audience members as well.” (Read: Sounds kinda like “she was asking for it,” to me.)

Do you think that women should be more conscientious of how they are presenting themselves in order to “keep the peace” with men? Have you encountered similar situations while here at Vanderbilt? Is there anything we can actually do to change the mentalities of young men who think like this attacker?

 

 

Identifying as Transgender and Getting Hired

Individuals who identify as transgender face more everyday problems than we may know. The little things, such as having to choose a bathroom without getting yelled at or getting security called, or having to explain why you look absolutely nothing like your drivers license are a few things that heterosexuals take for granted.

The workforce today is strongly dominated by men. Typically white, middle to upper class men. However, when it comes to being transgender, being a white man is not necessarily favored. According to the article in “Introducing the New Sexuality Studies”, by Kimberly Tauches, people who identify as transgender undergo far more than we would expect. Transgenders face conflict in public spaces, language, documentation, sexuality, and also problems in the medical world.

Gender is a term that evolves over time. Today, gender is defined as something different than it was viewed as in the 1950s. A woman in the past who went and did work in an office for example was viewed as masculine, as well as a woman who played sports. Today, gender has obtained a new perspective. Feminine and masculine are different than they were fifty years ago. Gender operates at many different levels, including personal, in the workplace, and through interaction. All of these contribute to gender attribution, which is the process in which we decide and expect a person to act, based on what we see. We base what we see from how masculine or feminine the person acts.

Men have always been viewed as masculine. In the work place, men have always been favored in earning more money, such as doctors, lawyers, and bosses. Men also obtain the label as head of family, and have shown significant power over woman in politics. How is this supposed to come into play when a woman becomes a man?

Transgenders today often have a ridiculous amount of criticism when trying to fit into the workplace. According to americanprogress.org:

  • Fifteen percent to 43 percent of gay and transgender workers have experienced some form of discrimination on the job.
  • Eight percent to 17 percent of gay and transgender workers report being passed over for a job or fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Ten percent to 28 percent received a negative performance evaluation or were passed over for a promotion because they were gay or transgender.
  • Seven percent to 41 percent of gay and transgender workers were verbally or physically abused or had their workplace vandalized.
  • Ninety percent of transgender individuals have encountered some form of harassment or mistreatment on the job.
  • Forty-seven percent of workers have experienced an adverse job outcome because they are transgender. This includes:
    • Forty-four percent who were passed over for a job
    • Twenty-three percent who were denied a promotion

And 26 percent who were fired because they were transgender

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The link above is the story of a woman named Vandy Beth Glenn who was fired when she told her boss about her transition from being male to female. The took this into court regarding the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2009.

The HRC.org (Human Rights Campaign) noted some important pros and cons of becoming transgender:

Some benefits of disclosure:

  • Living an authentic and whole life
  • Reducing the stress of hiding our identity
  • Being more productive at work
  • Developing closer, more genuine relationships with colleagues, customers and clients
  • Building self-esteem from being known for who we really are
  • Having authentic and open friendships with other transgender people
  • Becoming a role model for others

Some risks/consequences of coming out:

  • Not everyone will be understanding or accepting
  • Family, friends and co-workers may be shocked, confused or even hostile
  • Some relationships may permanently change
  • You may experience harassment, discrimination or violence
    • You may lose your job

Unfortunately, there are no answers on how to perfectly or correctly obtain a transgender identity in the workplace. Being transgender is something that is a challenge that comes with a lot of personal choices. Applications may or may not ask for gender specifications as well as medical paperwork.

Transgender individuals face many problems not only keeping a job, but getting hired. The application and interview process are difficult. There are 29 states in America that make it legal to fire you if you identify as gay. There are many tips on sites that transgenders are required to use in order to keep or receive a job. These tips include some things that most people don’t have to face. Transgenders are suggested to keep their identity private and not make it a crisis at work. If it is to be discussed, it should be done not on-site at work, and made known that it is private. Trasgneders are also required to not slip under any circumstances while on the job. Every move is watched under a very large microscope. Transgenders are also advised to record every move they make. This way, if something slips up regarding discrimination, they have proof that the work was put in. Transgenders are advised to keep calm in situations. One might feel that he or she is constantly being watched or harassed. It might be hard to stay focused at work under that type of pressure.

How would you feel if your co-worker opened up to you?

Do you think that transgenders are going to be given equal opportunity in the next few years?

Do you think that transgenders have to right to be upset with how they are treated or do business owners have rights in choosing who they hire?

Spotlight on R.A.D.

Ladies!! College is the perfect time to learn to defend yourself against someone who may not have your best interest in mind. While you are most vulnerable at night hours when walking back to your room from the library or maybe out having a good time over the weekend, this R.A.D. self-defense class will teach you many moves and tactics to get you away from your pursuer!

 

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