Rape Culture is a Reality

Christina Hoff Sommers’ article “Rape Culture is a ‘Panic Where Paranoia, Censorship, and False Accusations Flourish'”  indicates that the idea of rape culture is stirring up more trouble than it’s worth.  Continue reading

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Global and Transnational Sexualities

Being an immigrant in a culture affects a myriad of aspects in a person’s life. The way they interact with people, their everyday routines and practices, and all aspects of their lives in an immigrant country are all altered and begin to fall into the mold of that of the host nation. Women immigrants see and feel the effects of being an immigrant more so than other people. Racial and gender hierarchies become a prevalent factor in how their lives are lived, and consequently, their sexualities and employment statuses are shaped based on the expectations of the dominant race or gender. When people immigrate to other countries in numbers, the people of that country typically experience moral panic, fearing that their social order and habitual customs are at risk to change due to foreign people coming in with their “alien” practices. This forms a resentment toward the immigrant people and culture, and gives the host nation’s culture a sense of informal power over them. Consequently, racial hierarchies confine immigrant women to a status of diminished personhood where their rights, culture, and sexual agency are treated as second rate to a dominant culture.

In the United States, hispanic and latino populations have grown immensely in the past decade. Many Mexican and Latin American people have immigrated to the United States seeking better work and opportunities for themselves and their families. Many have joined the labor force, working jobs in the realms of farm work, agricultural work, or on construction; a good amount of these workers are undocumented laborers. The employees in these situations, including the Mexican women who worked on the fields in California who were featured in the documentary, “Rape in the Fields,” are a part of this population. However, because they are immigrants, and are women, they have little to no power; they are easy to take advantage of. Their statuses and sexualities are at the disposal of people of higher racial or gender standings through neocolonialism. They are at the disposal of their employers. Because they have no rights, papers, little money, and need to provide for their families, these women are forced to keep working in unhealthy situations, where they are confined and mistreated. They have no choice but to submit to their employers and obey what they or told for fear of being acted towards violently.

The lack of rights that these women face impacts them in the most negative possible ways. Employers and people of higher racial or social standing feel as if they can take advantage of these women. These women are raped because of this, yet have to bite their tongue and endure the conditions just to provide for their families. Even when these women tell of their experiences of being exploited and taken advantage of, they are treated as second rate. Their claims are dismissed and they are forced to live with the violence and rape they face in their workplaces. If a white woman claimed rape, then she would receive all the attention and her needs would be met; but because these mexican women are part of a diaspora culture and carry no social weight compared to the dominant culture, they are completely disregarded. Historically, rape cases for white women have taken precedence over rape cases for minorities- some cases have even become national news, yet minority cases go completely under the radar.

The documentary “Rape in the Fields” portrayed this idea well. It displayed the notion of rape against Mexican immigrant workers as insignificant when showing the story of the man that would continually take a woman worker far away in the fields and force her to have sex with him. She told authorities about this man, and no one listened. He would rape her and threaten her, yet she had no power whatsoever to combat these actions. When authorities actually did take the situation into their hands, the man pleaded innocent and was not questions, getting away for free. Unfair situations like these cause life-lasting feelings of unrest and fear for the women who have to face these types of men. Situations like these happen often in these certain worker communities, leaving the women hopeless and feeling as if they cannot receive any help. This perpetuates over time, and becomes a culture. When it becomes a culture, it creates an environment where there is an unsaid expectation of the women to submit to the men in authority and their sexual wants without even questioning it or fighting it. These notions become widespread, and women are expected to keep their mouths shut, and they do because it is what they have to do to make a living and survive.

Unfortunately, I do not believe that this culture exists only in these realms, but probably also exist in other circles of immigrant and minority cultures. It probably exists not only in the United States, but in countries across the world considering the historical  gender bias and power complex that has been present for years. Do you think that the assertion above is potentially true? Will there ever be justice for these women immigrant workers, or will they continually be disregarded by the authorities and the United States’ justice system? What do you think it would need to take for this culture to change? Why do you think it is that these women who face these situations are completely disregarded?

 

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 does sex have to do with Gender Norms?

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This class has effectively worked to go against societies standards that are present on and off campus. It has critically analyzed the different aspects of society that address sex and sexuality. The basis of all these topics can be lead back to one of our very first topics covered, gender norms within society. Gender norms are societies view of how females and males are supposed to act and behave; females- innocent and submissive, males- dominates and strong. These gender roles cause society to place expectations on relationships and sexuality. Continue reading

Sex Scandals in Society

 

Celebrities are good for a few things; they entertain us through music, television, and movies and they serve as icons in fashion and their different actions, but when they make a mistake, it becomes a statement for the rest of society (and for other celebrities who are making the same mistake). When prominent figures act in a way that is unlawful, unjust, or unacceptable, society likes to make an example of them. What comes to mind first, is Tiger Woods. Tiger Woods is one of the greatest golfers of all time and was LOVED by golf fans. However, when one of his mistress’ talked about her relationship with him, his name became worthless. Subsequently, more and more women came out talking about the same relationship that they had with Woods. Tiger Woods became hated by Americans for cheating on his wife and for sleeping with so many women. This sex scandal was all over the news and his family was stalked until he admitted to these allegations. However, in reality, he is probably not the only celebrity that does this. He is just the one that got caught and couldn’t cover it up. Another celebrity that comes to mind that was made of an example for his terrible acts is Bill Cosby. For anyone that doesn’t know, he was a comedian and actor that was loved by Americans for his entire career, until he was recently accused of sexually assaulting many women throughout the years. Cosby committed a terrible crime, but this crime has become a way to bring awareness to the frequentness of sexual assault.

 

 

 

Bill Cosby was accused of raping many women beginning in the 1960s. There are more than fifteen women that have accused Bill Cosby of sexually assaulting them, but no charges have been made. Bill Cosby paid one woman that accused him a large sum of money to settle the civil lawsuit against him (this is all according to a Huffington Post article posted in September of 2014). It has been incredibly clear that people are upset with Bill Cosby but more importantly they want him to speak out about these allegations. After polling fans of Bill Cosby, most said they wanted him to “own up to the mistake.” Over these allegations, Cosby has lost deals with NBC and Netflix and also lost countless fans. However, the only good that has come from this resulted in a fifty percent increase in the calls to the National Sexual Assault Hotline. The women that have come forth with these allegations about Bill Cosby have empowered other women that have suffered sexual assault to come forth and get help. The importance of making an example out of celebrities’ mistakes helps society realize what is really going on within our communities. Some other celebrities that were accused of sexual assault are; Mike Tyson, R.Kelly, 2Pac, Ceelo Green, Darren Sharper, Lawrence Taylor, Woody Allen, Sean Kingston, Marilyn Manson, and Ben Roethlisberger just to name a few.

Another name that has gotten much media for beating his wife is Ray Rice from the Baltimore Ravens. Ray Rice and his fiance at the time and now wife Janay fought in an elevator and both were taken to jail and charged with simple assault. However a few days later, a video was released of the fight when the couple was on the elevator and Ray Rice was seen dragging his wife’s body out of the elevator. This is what caused Rice to be suspended from two football games. However, what was most shocking was that his coach continued to support him and defend his character. Janay married Ray a few months later even though she was dragged out of an elevator.

 

This story reminded me of the class session of when we attended the art gallery that hung the pictures of the woman that was abused by her husband at such a young age. After many years of being beat and her children being affected by it, she got the courage and bravery to leave him and take him to court. Learning about this woman’s process has been incredibly eye opening because we learned how difficult the process is to protect your family against a man that has abused you for so many years. She has battled custody rights, restraining orders, and child support and the justice system still questions her. She has been a way for us to learn more about sexual and physical abuse and the role it plays in society. We know that one out of every five women are sexually assaulted on campus, but we do not even know how many woman are abused and do not report it. Celebrities get the backlash of their mistakes because they were once so popular in American’s eyes but we also need to save and help the people that are victims of abuse from your average person. We learned in class that eighty to ninety percent of sexual assaults are perpetuated by acquaintances, so if we know this statistic, how can we make a difference? What changes can we make?