Archive for the ‘Violence’ category

Rape, Sex & Catholic Education

May 8, 2009

Let’s play a little game of “one of these things is not like the other.” It’s a multiple choice. The “sexual misconduct” policy [at Catholic University] outlaws:

a. premarital sex

b. condoms

c. masturbation

d. rape

Washington D. C. City Paper, May 8-14, 2009

The above is an excerpt from an article about Catholic University policy regarding “sexual misconduct.” As City Paper points out, CUA lists consensual sex and rape in the same sentence of their policy. (“physical contact of a sexual nature that is unwanted…and/or disruptive to the university community”– ‘disruptive’ means all premarital sexual conduct) Which, obviously, comes  directly from the Catholic Church’s rulings.

I’m not going to attack the choice of an individual to belong to a religion of his or her choice. HOWEVER, I will say this: the Catholic Church (hierarchy of, political arm of, etc) perpetuates rape culture. Putting rape in the same sentence as & violating the same clause of the CUA Policy as sex sends a strong message. You’ve now softened the seriousness of forcible sexually assaulting another human being, and put it on the same level as a universal human instinct. Great.


Hipster Misogyny

April 15, 2009

I read Racialicious all the time, and they often talk about Hipster Racism– racist statements/acts/songs/movies that ‘hipsters’ do, and it passes in the mainstream, because they call it ‘ironic.’

Well, I was looking up bands today, and found an awful instance of Hipster Misogyny. For those who don’t know, I’m pretty into music– of all kinds. I’ve heard Crystal Castles’ songs a couple of times and I dug a few so I checked them out on myspace. Well, they are selling THESE t-shirts. This picture is all over their website:


Wow! Violence against women is so hilarious and hip! Awesome.

Not. This is disgusting.


February 20, 2009

I just learned that TMZ released a photo of Rihanna’s face taken by the police after being violently attacked by Chris Brown.

Now I had no misunderstandings about how TMZ was above anything like that. But I will say I am even more disturbed by TMZ than I was before.

As women so much of our lives are invisible. Anonymous. We are a monolithic Other, we are not thought of when the people in power make laws, policy, stimulus packages. Our “issues” are not discussed, our rights cast aside in favor of “saving money” or “focusing on something more important.”

But as soon as something becomes “media worthy”- whatever that means- Our images are used without our permissions, without our voices, to become sensationalized and reproduced for public consumption.

What happened to Rihanna happens to so many women every day. In every community, every demographic. But we choose to ignore this fact so often, we choose to not think about these women, but when it happens to a superstar, we are hungry. This woman, who did not choose to have this highly personal painful situation so highly publicized. Did not ask to become the “face of domestic violence.” Did not ask for her image to be used to sell magazines so the wolves can eat up her pain and use it for their own entertainment and text the latest gossip to their friends.

To release such a disturbing, triggering image so that people can click on it, say their “Ewwww”s and get on with their days– that is negligence and insensitivity and sexism in the highest form. It is her pain, and it is the pain of all of us who have had this done to us, or who live in fear of it, or have loved ones living in fear of it.

I hope we can have productive conversations out of this. I hope that if something comes of this, it will open people’s eyes and maybe encourage more action and more people to speak out. I am glad some people are noticing the issue of domestic violence for the first time– but not in this way.  The solution is not to comment on blogs saying how either she “deserved it” or “black men are crazy like that.” Or write things like how “she has such a beautiful face, its a pity to see it like this!” Or to get “grossed out” and move on with our days. We need to acknowledge that this happens to women who are not famous and who are not ‘beautiful.’ And it can happen anywhere and to anyone and we need to address it in our communities and fight against it. And to respect that this famous woman did not ask to be dissected in this public way. We must hold ourselves accountable to these women and help them, and listen to them. And tell our men it is not acceptable and you will be held accountable for your violence.

Domestic Violence: WWJD?

February 9, 2009

This is a real treat– not sure how this one slipped by me. Rick Warren, of Obama Inaugural Controversy fame, is in the news again because his church is using religion as an cover for accepting domestic violence.

On the Saddleback Church’s website, on the main FAQ page, you can click to hear Warren give disturbing answers to a variety of questions–including hives-inducing theories on homosexuality and Judaism. But what I wanted to write about today is the excusing and normalizing of domestic violence in Pastor Warren’s answers. Citing the Bible in response to whether an abused woman can divorce her husband, Warren says, well– no.

“[In scripture] adultery is one [reason for divorce] and abandonment is a second. I wish there were a third in scripture. Having been involved as a pastor in situations of abuse there’s something in me that wishes there was a Bible verse that says if they abuse you in this and such kind of way then you have a right to leave them. … If you’re in this kind of situation I strongly recommend that you take advantage of our lay counseling ministers. “

Yes, there is something in Rick Warren that wishes God agreed that violence is enough to get out of a marriage. This is extraordinary adherence to the verbatim, “strict constructionist” interpretation of the Bible. Bear with me a moment– if God has given incredibly developed brains, logic, and critical thinking skills to humans– one might extrapolate that perhaps we could use our BRAINS to figure out that consistent violence and abuse of one’s spouse might be grounds enough to violate the love, honor, cherish and protect (etc) clause of their marriage contract. Might the health and life and well-being of a woman be worth breaking a bond with her abuser? Might the abuser be at fault here? And not the victim, for wanting to leave a situation that greatly endangers her physical and emotional self? (note- i’m not trying to be hetero-normative here, but i thought in the context of the Saddlebeck Church and marriage, male/female would be the only partnership)

Again, Saddleback Pastor Holladay explains that one who has been abused may be allowed to seek counseling and separation from their abuser. But to qualify for that separation, your spouse must be in the “habit of beating you regularly,” and not be simply someone who “grabbed you once.” Alternet follow-up question– what exactly qualifies as “beating regularly?”

For those nonreligious or nonChristian readers, the scenario seems absurd, preposterous, and almost laughable if it weren’t so horribly dangerous. But for Christian believers who seek guidance and counsel from this megachurch, these words are serious. They pose a very real danger. Will one forsake their religious beliefs, or adhere to a decision that might compromise their life?

That is why Warren is doing such a dangerous disservice to humanity. There are followers who hang on his every word– some of them don’t really know any better. His antiquated, misogynistic ideas about violence put all his followers at risk.

Christianity shouldn’t get a blanket disapproval from feminism for things like this. But fundamentalism surely can. And where is this “sit down & shut up” attitude more obvious than this?

In our Islamophobic culture, magazines and articles depict sad, scared, veiled, abused Muslim women. Muslim women who are always the victims– but our American women are much better off, right? Not if Saddleback would have its way.

My point here is that extremists come in all sects, religions, & ethnicities. We paint with a clumsy, wide brush all Muslim countries and Muslim women as ‘oppressors v. the oppressed,’ without realizing the nuances and pockets of religious extremism that are responsible for what we see in our media, not something innate in that religion.

For progressive Christians, you must be sorely offended by Pastor Warren’s decrees and opinions,hiding behind your religious books. This is what is happening with extremist pockets of Islam, only its seeds are deeper and more firmly rooted, thanks largely to decades of imperialism & US interference.

Certainly there are many more extreme, hateful churches using Christianity negatively, but I wanted to point out one that has such a large following & enjoys great influence, and has been legitimized by media exposure and inaugural invocations.

So perhaps before “enlightening” people of other cultures and religions, we can try and enlighten some of ourselves.

Religion without humanity is poor human stuff

-sojourner truth.