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The Canadian Progressive: Judge Robin Camp to rape complainant: “Why couldn’t you just keep your knees together?”

The Canadian Judicial Council will soon determine the fate of a judge who admonished a sex assault complainant with “sexist and disrespectful” remarks such as: “Why couldn’t you just keep your knees together?”

The post Judge Robin Camp to rape complainant: “Why couldn’t you just keep your knees together?” appeared first on The Canadian Progressive.

. . . → Read More: The Canadian Progressive: Judge Robin Camp to rape complainant: “Why couldn’t you just keep your knees together?”

The Canadian Progressive: Victoria is the best place to be a woman in Canada

A recent study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives confirms Victoria as the best city to be a woman in Canada in 2016. The capital of British Columbia also grabbed top spot in the CCPA’s 2015 study.

The post Victoria is the best place to be a woman in Canada appeared first on . . . → Read More: The Canadian Progressive: Victoria is the best place to be a woman in Canada

Montreal Simon: The Final Meltdown of the Monster Donald Trump

As we all know Donald Trump is now unshackled, going after the Democrats and the Republicans.And of course trying to smear Bill Clinton, even though he's not running for anything.But Trump's desperate attempts to deflect attention off his reputation as a sexual predator seems seem to be backfiring spectacularly.Because now he's been hit by . . . → Read More: Montreal Simon: The Final Meltdown of the Monster Donald Trump

The Canadian Progressive: #NotOkay: Canadian woman’s Twitter sexual assault story call fuels rebellion against Donald Trump

A Canadian woman’s #NotOkay call on women to share their sexual assault stories on Twitter has partly fueled U.S. Republican leaders’ unfolding rebellion against their party’s nominee for president.

The post #NotOkay: Canadian woman’s Twitter sexual assault story call fuels rebellion against Donald Trump appeared first on The Canadian Progressive.

Cowichan Conversations: An Open Letter To Donald Trump From Some Angry Women.

This was posted from Alice Machado’s blog ‘Drifting Through My Open Mind ~ Random thoughts and musings‘

Dear Mr. Trump… can I call you Mr. Trump? Is that ok? I want you to be

Read more…

wmtc: what i’m reading: the evil hours, a biography of post-traumatic stress disorder

The Evil Hours: A Biography of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is an outstanding book — meticulously researched, but written in a compelling, accessible style, and with great humanity and compassion.

Author David J. Morris unearths the social and cultural history of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the fourth most common psychiatric disorder in the US. He surveys the potential treatments. He explores the role of social justice in our understanding of PTSD.

But above all, Morris confronts the meaning of trauma, in society and in his own life. Morris was a U.S. Marine stationed in Iraq. After narrowly escaping death, he returned home questioning everything he thought he knew — and eventually having to face the reality of his own trauma. Morris’ dual role as both researcher and subject give this book a unique power as history, social science, and personal essay.

People have known for centuries, for millennia, that traumatic events produce after-effects, but different cultures in different eras have explained those effects in different ways. The modern history of trauma is linked to the carnage of 20th Century war. And our current understanding of PTSD owes everything to the Vietnam War, and the experience of returning veterans who publicly opposed the war.

In this way, the history of PTSD encompasses a history of 1960s and 1970s peace activism, especially of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, a group that began a sea-change in the culture of the United States. As a student of peace, I found this part fascinating.

Taking this even further, Morris links PTSD and social justice. Powerless and marginalized people are more likely to be traumatized by one or more of the four principal causes of PTSD: war, genocide, torture, rape. Taking a social and cultural perspective forces us to confront a world that causes these traumas. In this view, PTSD is not so much an illness as a moral condition brought on by the worst of human society.

The United States Veterans Administration (VA) sees it quite differently. To the VA, PTSD is strictly a medical condition. And this matters greatly, because research about PTSD is almost entirely funded and controlled by the VA. Explaining trauma as purely medical or biological doesn’t address the causes at all. In fact, it does the opposite — it normalizes PTSD as a natural consequence of unavoidable circumstances.

As for treatment, Morris surveys what’s out there and finds most of it useless. VA hospitals and insurance companies prefer therapies that can be “manualized” — made uniform, with a certain number of treatments and little or no emotional engagement from the therapist. Statistically, these types of therapies appear to be useful — until one learns that the numbers don’t include all the patients who drop out! Talk about cooking the books: everyone for whom the treatment isn’t working or, in many cases, is actually worsening their symptoms, is simply ignored.

Morris himself feels that therapeutic talks with an empathetic person with some training goes further than neuroscience can. “What they [the VA] seem to want instead,” Morris writes, “is mass-produced, scalable, scripted therapies that make for compelling PowerPoint slides.”

Readers of this blog may know that I have PTSD. Much of The Evil Hours brought a shock of recognition — the feeling that someone else is expressing your own thoughts, saying exactly what you’ve been thinking all along. Morris perfectly articulates how trauma plays out in one’s life, the depths of change it brings about.

Morris writes: “We are born in debt, owing the world a death. This is the shadow that darkens every cradle. Trauma is what happens when you catch a surprise glimpse of that darkness.”

In the immediate aftermath of my own trauma, while trying to write about my experience, this is exactly the image I fixated on. We are, all of us, dancing on the edge of a great precipice, usually unaware of how terrifyingly close we are to that edge. Then something happens, and we understand it, not in some theoretical way, but immediately and profoundly, perhaps in a way humans are not equipped to understand. We talk about “the fragility of life” but we don’t know what that is — until we do. Then we spend a lifetime trying to live with the knowledge.

“One of the paradoxes of trauma,” writes Morris, “is that it happens in a moment, but it can consume a lifetime. The choice of how much time it is permitted to consume is usually in the hands of the survivor.”

The Evil Hours may be very useful for people who are figuring out how to stop PTSD from consuming any more of their lives. It is certainly a must-read for anyone interested in the effects of trauma on the human mind. . . . → Read More: wmtc: what i’m reading: the evil hours, a biography of post-traumatic stress disorder

The Canadian Progressive: Stanford University Sexual Assault Case: Victim’s Impact Statement

Here’s the full impact statement by the 23-year old victim in the Stanford University sexual assault case. She states that her attacker, Brock Turner, was “willing to go to any length, to discredit me, invalidate me, and explain why it was okay to hur… . . . → Read More: The Canadian Progressive: Stanford University Sexual Assault Case: Victim’s Impact Statement

The Canadian Progressive: “Jian Ghomeshi is guilty”, Kathryn Borel says in post-sexual assault charges statement

Kathryn Borel: “Every day, over the course of a three year period, Mr. Ghomeshi made it clear to me that he could do what he wanted to me and my body.” The post “Jian Ghomeshi is guilty”, Kathryn Borel says in post-sexual assault charges st… . . . → Read More: The Canadian Progressive: “Jian Ghomeshi is guilty”, Kathryn Borel says in post-sexual assault charges statement

wmtc: when real life meets the onion: espn wants us to know that rape is traumatic… for the rapist

Ah, the things we miss when we don’t follow mainstream media. I didn’t even know the sports world was celebrating a rapist.This week, drinking wine in a hotel room in New Jersey, Allan and I were pleased to discover that the Red Sox were on the ESPN We… . . . → Read More: wmtc: when real life meets the onion: espn wants us to know that rape is traumatic… for the rapist

Susan on the Soapbox: The Ghomeshi Verdict: We Deserve Better

“Violence against women is not about the behavior of the women.”–Gillian Hnatiw, lawyer for Lucy DeCoutere By his own admission Jian Ghomeshi likes rough sex. The legal question is whether the three women who met Ghomeshi in 2002 and 2003 … Continue reading . . . → Read More: Susan on the Soapbox: The Ghomeshi Verdict: We Deserve Better

A Puff of Absurdity: A Reasonable Doubt?

A post wherein I get a little grumpy and swear-y about it all. What does reasonable doubt look like? Is there really, REALLY, a reasonable doubt that Jian attacked the women who had their lives scrutinized on the stand? With sexual abuse cases, … . . . → Read More: A Puff of Absurdity: A Reasonable Doubt?

A Puff of Absurdity: A Reasonable Doubt?

A post wherein I get a little grumpy and swear-y about it all.

What does reasonable doubt look like? Is there really, REALLY, a reasonable doubt that Jian attacked the women who had their lives scrutinized on the stand? With sexual abuse cases, it all hinges on the credibility of the victims. But the problem with our system today is that the standards necessary to determine credibility are far too high. In far too many minds, credibility is questioned in a sexual abuse case if a woman continues to hang out with, have sex with, be attracted to, or even love their assailant. The legal system must acknowledge and contend with this insidious nature of abuse that places wounded women back in the arms of their abusers. It just is. There’s no easy way to prevent that very human behaviour, so it must not be seen as an admission of prior deceit.

They had inconsistencies in a story about an even that happened over a decade ago, and they can’t remember how long his hands were around their necks or the colour of a car. Our memory for details are sketchy over time, but our memory for a major event – not so much. Withholding e-mails can be understood, so plainly, as either forgetting about a note sent so long ago or, if intent to withhold can be proven, then a clear acknowledgement that in our fucked-up system, sex after an attack appears to nullify any claims of damage. That has to change. Immediately.

In a famous experiment, dogs were put in a compartment and trained to jump a barrier when given an electric shock. After one or two tries, the dogs jumped the barrier immediately after being put in the compartment even when no shock was given. BUT some dogs were restrained the first time and not able to jump the barrier. They had to tolerate the shock without being able to escape. When they were unharnessed, they still didn’t jump the barrier, but just stayed there, tolerating the pain.

“Seligman found that it took many experiences (up to 200) of being forcibly dragged across from the shock compartment to the safe compartment for them to rediscover that responding could bring relief and thus to break out of the learned helplessness syndrome.” 

Up to 200 times after just one inescapable experience! We are hard-wired to stay put, to hunker down and tolerate abuse after just one bad experience. That’s how we survive. When dogs are beaten, they often follow their abuser around even if there are kinder family members to hang out with. We align ourselves with the strongest in the pack, and an abuser can fit the bill. These are basic animal behaviours that are difficult to overcome despite our big brains, even for the best and brightest among us.

It’s clearly not entirely a matter of victims being too polite, but of a built-in animal nature to cope with pain rather than act on it if there’s no clear escape. And there IS no clear escape if calling the cops ruins your own life and reputation and offers little hope for a conviction.

The parliament site, Hill Notes discusses rates of “unfounding”:

“Among seven Ontario police forces, 2% to 34% of complaints of sexual assault were considered unfounded. No matter what the percentage, the rates were significantly higher for sexual assaults than for other crimes in the six forces for which comparative data were available. Studies have shown that victims may be seen as less credible in situations that do not reflect the stereotypical image of sexual assault as a violent act perpetrated by a stranger on a “virtuous” woman who vigorously resisted. . . . In some investigative manuals, for example, the criteria to be considered in detecting a false report include a request to speak to a female officer. . . . 

There are various factors at play [in the low conviction rate], including reliance on myths and stereotypes to discourage the complainant from testifying in court and to attack the credibility of the complainant. Such testimony is generally crucial for the prosecution of a sexual assault case, as there may be no witnesses and little other evidence.”

Check that out again: just the act of asking to see a female officer is enough for your claims to be discredited in Ontario. That standard is ridiculously high. This is why people are posting signs saying “I believe survivors.” I’m bracing myself for slippery slope arguments to the contrary now – that if we lower it a smidge, then women can get men convicted on bogus charges because maybe he didn’t call back right away, and women will TAKE OVER THE WORLD.

Hold the phone. We can lower the standards to a REASONABLE place wherein women feel free to admit to a relationship after an assault without fear that it will not be believed WITHOUT lowering credibility standards to a point that women can charge men willy nilly. It is possible, but it will take some work to change the way we understand one another.

What should determine credibility?

Well, it shouldn’t include victim’s later behaviour, how they dress, or where they live or work (i.e. a prostitute must be believed as much as a nurse), or minor inconsistencies. If you’re telling a story of an assault from years ago, and you sometimes say ‘slapped’ and other times ‘hit’, it shouldn’t follow that you’re lying about the entire thing. The standard I’d like to see is: “Did they say ‘yes’ to the behaviour and to every escalation of the behaviour?” It will always be complicated to convict, but in a case with many women testifying against one man, it seems clear that they’re not jilted, spiteful girlfriends out to get a guy for ditching them. That might happen out there somewhere. I admit it’s possible for a woman to be so angry that, twelve years later she’s still willing to put her own life on trial to falsely accuse a man of a horrific assault, but it’s highly unlikely. When there are numbers of women expressing similar fates, then the likelihood of them all fabricating the same story becomes astronomical, and they Must. Be. Believed.

 In a Facebook comment, Antonia Zerbisias had this to say about these women:

“With sexual assault — and I don’t mean a punch but full on penetration — victims should know not to shower, brush their teeth, even though the compulsion to do so must be overwhelming. If they don’t know that, then there should be posters in schools and universities and workplaces, and PSAs on all the channels. There was no DNA in this case. . . . 

As for strangulation marks or bruises, if there were any, I am amazed that nobody photographed them. But let’s just say that the complainants were too traumatized to do so, or there were none, why would they have not shared their stories with their girlfriends or sisters? Or, right. Trauma, shame and I am victim-blaming. . . . . 

Now here we have three youngish women, who would have been in their 20s when these events happened and, for whatever reason had stars in their eyes with JG. . . . but, seriously, who could buy one of the stories: One of them claims he committed a violent act one day and then next day, she invites him over for a friendly handjob? . . . . Women must take some responsibility for their safety. . . . . If you have a creepy feeling, say you have a headache and Uber it home. . . .  

I often wondered why he never asked [my friends] out but now I know. They didn’t need him or act like they needed him. Sure, they were starstruck but they had resources and spidey-senses and would have walked if he tried anything. Predators always go for the weak, the ones at the back of the herd. Frankly, I don’t think these complainants were too bright. I know that’s brutal but a smart woman would have shut up and not written things like we’ll get the prick.” 

Heres’s the thing: It makes us feel safer if we can believe that it won’t happen to us since we’re smart and resourceful. But that’s bullshit. Even smart women are sexually assaulted. Even you. There’s lots more to unpack in that comment, but there’s one thing I’d like to point out. Having DNA evidence of sexual contact AND having pictures of bruises will not further a case if the accused insists it was consensual BDSM. He didn’t claim he didn’t have sex with them, but that it was all consensual. All the DNA evidence in the world won’t help. And even filming it doesn’t seem to make a difference as he willingly showed filmed footage of rough sex to his employers earlier on. All the prosecutor has is the victims’ statements. It will always come down to a matter of who we believe, and we must believe more survivors.

Teaching girls how to behave after an attack does fuck-all if rapists aren’t convicted because the girls’ credibility came in to question because they did that one wrong thing.

Antonia praises the almighty Section 11 of the Charter, and I assume she’s referring to part d): “to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal.” Many are celebrating that the law was impartial because it actually ignored the media and protestors. But I content it wasn’t impartial because it did not ignore a very warped, patriarchal idea of what it looks like to be abused. Our current legal system doesn’t recognize what’s necessary to actually stop this illegal activity, and, as a result, rape continues more openly than I’ve ever seen before. We can watch teens rape girls at parties in videos shared openly. Some guys are not remotely ashamed of this kind of behaviour, and now they have yet another hero to applaud for proving his innocence. Yes, he’s technically “not guilty” rather than innocent, but that’s not how it will be seen to some, and how it is seen is what will affect future behaviours.

The effect of this trial is terrifying to me because it means abusers everywhere think they can get a pass even with multiple victims. Too many men feel untouchable, and they are all too often correct.

I flagged about twelve different posts and articles I planned to discuss in this post. I just started with Antonia’s with the intention of commenting on others, but this is all so frustrating and exhausting and terribly sad. When people argue dispassionately that we must stand behind our legal system, they don’t seem to understand that they’re praising a system that will allow my daughters and my students and my friends and myself to be attacked with impunity if we can’t guarantee being perfect witnesses on the stand. That’s. Just. Fucking. Wrong.

And really scary.

I’ll leave you with MP Charlie Angus’ concern here:

ETA – And these words, dammit:  

“[People celebrating the verdict] are so fucking far from understanding the collective fire engulfing women at the moment, that your point is a moon of pluto. My point is the sun. My point is that since those 21 brave women came forward, our insides have been burning, we swallow nails every day, we question our existence. . . . We’re having a mass breakdown under the weight of a system that so evidently hates us, and you have no fucking idea of the reality of our lives.”

We must find our collective way back from this. But it has to be the other side that sees the light on this one. It just has to. We can’t live together comfortably if some people believe justice was served.  
ETA also interesting is that Canadian news focused on the problems with the victims, but the rest of the world focused on the problems with the judge and judgment. Curious. 

. . . → Read More: A Puff of Absurdity: A Reasonable Doubt?

wmtc: a brief thought on ghomeshi (yoko ono was right)

In a country of 35 millionJian Ghomeshi: was known to be a sexual harasser and a sexual assailant; was employed by the CBC; remained employed by the CBC until public allegations and public outcry forced them to fire him.Jian Ghomeshi: is good-looking; … . . . → Read More: wmtc: a brief thought on ghomeshi (yoko ono was right)

A Puff of Absurdity: The Terrifying Ramifications of the Verdict

I can just barely read about Jian’s acquittal on all charges. The Guardian has a telling interview with Lucy DeCoutere today. And of course some people, like Aaron Harnett, see it all as a “win” for Canadians because it safeguards us from accusations … . . . → Read More: A Puff of Absurdity: The Terrifying Ramifications of the Verdict

A Puff of Absurdity: The Terrifying Ramifications of the Verdict

I can just barely read about Jian’s acquittal on all charges. The Guardian has a telling interview with Lucy DeCoutere today. And of course some people, like Aaron Harnett, see it all as a “win” for Canadians because it safeguards us from accusations … . . . → Read More: A Puff of Absurdity: The Terrifying Ramifications of the Verdict

Politics and its Discontents: Those At The Top Just Aren’t Doing Their Jobs – Part 1

Probably everyone has encountered those who vie for the top positions in an organization; with their eyes always on the prize, they are the ones who see each job within as a stepping stone to something much greater: a management position that entails b… . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Those At The Top Just Aren’t Doing Their Jobs – Part 1

wmtc: call me lucky: a hilarious, heartbreaking, and inspiring movie

Barry Crimmins might be the most famous person you’ve never heard of.In “Call Me Lucky,” a documentary tribute to Crimmins created by Bobcat Goldthwait, an A-list of comics talk about the influence Crimmins had on them and their community: Patton Oswal… . . . → Read More: wmtc: call me lucky: a hilarious, heartbreaking, and inspiring movie

Montreal Simon: Why Peter MacKay Should Not Lead Any Canadian Party

When I saw Peter MacKay heading off into the sunset, and paying for his own flight for a change.After jumping over the side of the sinking Con ship…

I was hopeful that we'd seen the last of him.But sadly it's pretty clear now, even if he won't admit it, that he is planning . . . → Read More: Montreal Simon: Why Peter MacKay Should Not Lead Any Canadian Party

The Canadian Progressive: Lauren Bialystok: Empty Schools Campaign denies children essential education

Opponents of Ontario’s sex education curriculum are broadcasting misrepresentations and bigotry “under the guise of parental rights”, argues Lauren Bialystok, an Assistant Professor of Ethics and Education at the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

The post Lauren Bialystok: Empty Schools Campaign denies children essential education appeared first on The Canadian Progressive.

. . . → Read More: The Canadian Progressive: Lauren Bialystok: Empty Schools Campaign denies children essential education

wmtc: bernie sanders, the pope, and the politics of amnesia

I see a lot of excitement online, in places like Common Dreams and The Nation, and in my Facebook feed, about Bernie Sanders, supposedly remaking US politics, and Pope Francis, supposedly remaking the Roman Catholic Church.

About Sanders, I shake my head and wonder why long-time Democrat voters do not see him and his candidacy . . . → Read More: wmtc: bernie sanders, the pope, and the politics of amnesia

wmtc: 35 survivors of cosby assaults speak out in new york magazine

In a powerful show of courage, strength, and feminist solidarity, 35 women (of the 46 total) who have officially accused Bill Cosby of sexually assaulting them share their stories in New York magazine.

Read, watch, listen.

wmtc: action bronson, hate speech, and protest: rape culture vs. freedom of speech

As part of the NXNE concert series in Toronto, rapper Action Bronson was slated to perform a free concert in Dundas Square. Bronson is apparently known for lyrics and videos that degrade women and glorify rape. He has also bragged about assaulting a trans woman. Many people felt that this performer was inappropriate for a . . . → Read More: wmtc: action bronson, hate speech, and protest: rape culture vs. freedom of speech

The Canadian Progressive: Conservatives nuke motion seeking end to violence against women in Canada

Today, the Harper Conservatives voted down M-444, an NDP-sponsored motion seeking to end violence against women in Canada.

The post Conservatives nuke motion seeking end to violence against women in Canada appeared first on The Canadian Progressive.

The Canadian Progressive: Canadian Forces Member Vandalized Rehtaeh Parsons Suicide Wikipedia Page

The father of one of the four boys who gang-raped Rehtaeh Parsons edited her Wikipedia suicide page, wrote that her vicious attack was “consensual sex.”

The post Canadian Forces Member Vandalized Rehtaeh Parsons Suicide Wikipedia Page appeared first on The Canadian Progressive.

The Canadian Progressive: Leah Parsons’ Message To The Man Who Assaulted Her Daughter Rehtaeh

In a victim impact statement, Leah Parsons said the voice of her late daughter, Rehtaeh, “was not heard while she struggled to be heard, but it sure is now.”

The post Leah Parsons’ Message To The Man Who Assaulted Her Daughter Rehtaeh appeared first on The Canadian Progressive.