It's Over!

Did anyone else feel a tremendous sense of relief at around 11pm last night? It feels as though some small segment of the population has finally come around. I feel cautiously hopeful. I know Bush will probably pardon his cronies and issue a bunch of bullshit executive orders in the next two months, but after that... America stands a chance. That doesn't mean we won't blow it. We probably will. But we have a chance, for the first time in eight years. And that feels good.

Now that a Democrat is preparing to take over the White House, I feel free to worry about other things. I'm not too worried about local politics in New York - or Illinois for that matter. My rage and snarkiness have outlived their usefulness, and their welcome. It's time to start using the energy I've been wasting on defensive rants for something that's more productive. I'm not sure what that will be. But I know it's time for a change.

It's hard to be a liberal.

"It's easy to articulate a belligerent foreign policy based solely on unilateral military action, a policy that sounds tough and acts dumb; it's harder to craft a foreign policy that's tough and smart. It's easy to dismantle government safety nets; it's harder to transform those safety nets so that they work for people and can be paid for. It's easy to embrace a theological absolutism; it's harder to to find the right balance between the legitimate role of faith in our lives and the demands of our civic religion. But that's our job."
-- Barack Obama in "Tone, Truth, and the Democratic Party."

Hip Spinsters!

In the aftermath of my Jane Austen post, this is what I've been thinking about:

Any man who is threatened by your intelligence, your success, or your wit is a waste of your time. I'd rather be single for the rest of my life than have a relationship with someone who felt threatened by how brilliant, talented, and funny I am.

Any tradition that values women based on their partners instead of their individual identity isn't worth preserving. Let's continue to demolish this tradition. Unmarried women are not objects of mockery. They're role models to women who refuse to sell out their dreams.

Jane Austen Rocks.

I just watched Becoming Jane with my mom. It's not bad. It's not great, either. But there's an interesting moment when Jane talks with a contemporary "authoress." Mrs. Radcliffe remarks that it's horribly embarrassing for her husband to be married to a woman with a literary reputation. Jane says (I'm paraphrasing), "But surely it must be possible to be a writer and a wife?" Mrs. Radcliffe says, "Oh, yes, it's possible. But it's never easy."

Florence King wrote, "The witty woman is a tragic figure in American life. Wit destroys eroticism and eroticism destroys wit, so women must choose between taking lovers and taking no prisoners."

Even today, with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler making a killing at the box office, there are always people lining up to write articles about how women supposedly aren't funny. (They're morons, but they're out there.)

Anyway, Becoming Jane did make me want to read Pride and Prejudice again, and find out more about Jane Austen's life. I happened to find this poem:

You could not shock her more than she shocks me;
Beside her Joyce seems innocent as grass.
It makes me most uncomfortable to see
An English spinster of the middle class
Describe the amorous effects of "brass,"
Reveal so frankly and with such sobriety
The economic basis of society.
-- W. H. Auden, Letter to Lord Byron (1936)

Can you dig it?
Evil Kellie

You Tell Me Tuesday

After observing the backlash and victim-blaming leveled against a young Georgia woman attempting to pursue justice after being sexually assaulted by her ex-boyfriend, I have a question for the people who took her rapist's side.

Considering the hell that rape victims must go through to press charges against their rapists, why would anyone lie about being raped?

I've talked to several women who have been sexually assaulted who decided not to go to the police because it would be so incredibly traumatic and horrific. Many rape victims describe the process of seeking justice as "being raped all over again," and being "forced to relive a nightmare." They face victim-blaming and ostracism. They put their loved ones through the hell of watching them suffer and feeling powerless to stop it.

Here are some answers I have heard:

Myth 1.) Women "cry rape" for the attention.

There have to be easier ways to get attention. You could threaten to jump off a building. You could try out for "American Idol." All of these would be less traumatic than an invasive post-rape examination and being interrogated by hostile police officers. Rape victims get a lot of negative attention, sometimes more than their attackers.

Myth 2.) Women are vindictive by nature, and "cry rape" to damage the lives of men who have hurt them.

Let me tell you, there are easier ways to get even with a man who's hurt you. You can write angry poems about him and post them online for his new girlfriend to see. You can spray-paint "premature ejaculator" (or similar) on his car. You can hire a cheap hit man. I'm sick of all this "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" nonsense. I've faced a lot of rejection in my life. I mean, look at my picture, for crying out loud. Yeah. I've been so angry that I took a dying houseplant and tore it to pieces in a parking lot in front of a crowd of on-lookers. But I've never been angry enough to falsify a police report.

What other explanations have you heard - or even believed - for why a woman would lie about being raped? Let's hear them. I'm ready.

But first, maybe you should read this and this and the documents provided on this page, and this and this...

And maybe you should talk to a friend who has been sexually assaulted. Maybe you should ask her about her experience with the criminal justice system - or, why she didn't go to the hospital or to the police. And then try to give a reasonable explanation why a woman who wasn't raped would be willing to go through that.

I do believe people are innocent until proven guilty. But rape survivors face obstacles that no other crime victims face. If I went to the police and said I'd been robbed, no one would say that I was "asking for it." No one would ask me if I'd given away money willingly in the past. No one would say I was "crying robbery" for the attention or in order to blackmail the criminal.

Coming forward about a sexual assault is probably the hardest thing I hope you'll never have to go through. So maybe you should give survivors a little benefit of the doubt.

Monday Morning Mad

Technically it won't be Monday morning for a few more minutes, but I wanted to make sure that anyone gets up early in the morning and spends all day in front of a computer screen to have ready access to a compilation of feminist headlines I've been looking at.

Especially make sure to examine:
* The pro-lifers protest contraception with "The Pill Kills" campaign
* Misconceptions about rape are alive and kicking
* Why Women's Lives are Worse than Ever (and who you can thank for that)
Evil Kellie

Turn Your Rage Into Action

Yesterday I posted about Melanie Ross, a rape victim in Georgia who was ordered to pay her rapist's legal fees after Judge Phillip Brown dismissed her claim as frivolous. His reasoning? The victim was not a virgin. Her rapist was her ex-boyfriend, Daniel Day. Her lacerations and bruises could have been caused by "bumping into furniture." And since Day used a date rape drug, Ross could not be considered a reliable witness.

It is important to realize that Day has not claimed that he did not give Melanie Ross a rape drug, or that he did not rape her while she was under the influence of said drug. His entire defense is that he didn't need to drug her to get her to have sex with him, because they had had a sexual relationship previously. His entire defense is: A man can't rape a woman who has previously consented to have sex with him - or with anyone. And a Georgia Judge agreed with him.

You can read more about this case at Feministing or at SAFER.

Other outraged people have found a few actions that can be taken on Melanie Ross' behalf.

First, you can make people aware of this horrifying case. Tell everyone you know that Georgia punishes rape victims for speaking out, instead of punishing rapists. If you happen to know someone who is a reporter or a columnist (anyone talk to Mick Swasko lately?), encourage them to do some research and write about this appalling situation.

If you take a moment to register for an account, you can comment on local news coverage of the appeal.

You can make an adversarial complaint against this judge. Send your letter of complaint, condemning Judge Phillip Brown's actions to:

State Bar of Georgia
800 The Hurt Building
50 Hurt Plaza
Atlanta, GA 30303-2934

You can also write to Daniel Day's father, Georgia State Representative Burke Day. His home phone number is listed as: 912.786.7050. Or you can contact him at his district office:

Representative Burke Day
218 State Capitol
Atlanta, GA 30334

You can donate to Melanie Ross' Legal Fund, by sending a check to:

Barrett & Farahany, LLP
1401 Peachtree Street, Suite 101
Atlanta, GA 30309
(404) 214-0120

Make the check out to: Barrett & Farahany, LLP and put on the memo that it is for the Melanie Ross Legal Fund. If you have any questions or concerns, please follow up with Barrett & Farahany. (I understand if you don't want to write a check to her law firm and I will continue to look for a way to send donations directly to Ms. Ross.)

If you don't mind being profoundly disgusted with humanity, you can visit this discussion online which attacks Ross and supports Day and tell them to go fuck themselves. You can even try tracking down their real life contact information and reporting them for hate speech.

If anyone else has any ideas for possible actions to take, please post them in comments.
Evil Kellie

On the verge of a psychotic breakdown

In Georgia, a rape case is dismissed as "frivolous" because victim previously had sex willingly with her attacker. Not only is the suit dismissed, the victim is ordered to pay her attacker's legal fees.

U.S. Marine sentenced to four years for sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl.

Washington University in St. Louis is giving an honorary degree to a woman who believes married women cannot be raped by their husbands, that sexual harassment is not a problem for "virtuous women," and who once said, "Sex education classes are like in-home sales parties for abortions."

And doctors in Oklahoma are now required by law to rape some of their patients.

Please, no devil's advocacy today. I cannot handle any comments in which my friends and loved ones blame victims or defend rapists.

Congressman Barney Frank Speaks Out On John McCain

"In a number of areas, Senator John McCain is praised for moderation that he has not in fact shown in his votes. It is true that by comparison to many of the angry right-wingers that have dominated the Republican Party with Senator McCain's general support he is less extreme and he has from time-to-time shown an amiability that contrasts with the snarling demeanor of some of his co-partisans. But all this shows is that it is possible to be prejudiced all of the time and pleasant some of the time when it comes to the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. With one exception, the relevance of which Senator McCain himself is rapidly diminishing, John McCain's record is completely opposed to our efforts to combat prejudice and gain legal equality.

"The one exception has to do with his vote against the constitutional amendment that would have banned marriage. He did vote against that amendment on states' rights grounds. But in his effort to win over the right wing support he has needed to secure the Republican nomination and hold Republican votes in November, he has paved the way for a retreat from that position. He has begun to outline circumstances in which he would support such an amendment, even taking the unconstitutional position that he would "sign" a constitutional amendment if elected president. In fact, presidents do not get to sign or not sign constitutional amendments, and McCain did subsequently clarify that he would only support such an amendment if the courts had held that states must recognize each other's marriages. He has of course made it clear that he will support constitutional Amendments banning marriage at the state level, including in his own state of Arizona, and he regretted the fact that Arizona rejected such an amendment.

"In every other area, McCain has a consistent voting record against our efforts. In 1996, the only time the Senate voted on the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, McCain was one of those who voted no. He has also consistently voted against extending hate crimes protection to gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender individuals.

"In the area of gays in the military, he is one of those who made sure that President Clinton's effort to lift the ban would fail. For example, when President Clinton first proposed lifting the ban, McCain was one of its leading opponents, saying for example on January 27, 1993, "It is incredible to me that President Clinton ... has decided to lift the ban without consulting any leading military official or veterans' organization." In fact, there had been such consultations with military officials and they had opposed the president. Colin Powell, then the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was our leading opponent and McCain, Sam Nunn and other leading pro-military figures combined to defeat the effort.

"Now that many who supported the ban when it was first imposed, including former Republican Senator Alan Simpson and former Army Chief of Staff John Shalikash-Vili, and with Senators Clinton and Obama firmly committed to lifting the ban, John McCain has firmly renewed his support for it -- "I believe that the don't ask don't tell policy is working ... I hear that from our military commanders all the time. There are some issues in which you just have to rely on the views of our military leaders if you're going to give them responsibility for the lives and the welfare of men and women who are serving under their command."

"This apparently reflects the prejudiced view that he expressed in 1993 when he was helping block President Clinton's effort when he said on February 4th, as recorded in the Congressional Record, "The issue of allowing open gay lifestyles in the military is completely different from the kind of changes taking place in civil life ... Homosexuality is a behavioral trait, unlike skin color."

"In addition to strongly opposing same-sex marriage, suggesting that he could modify his opposition to a federal constitutional amendment banning states like Massachusetts from adopting same-sex marriage, voting against ENDA, consistently opposing hate crimes coverage for us, and being recorded against every other effort in the Senate to give us fair treatment, Senator McCain also promised if he becomes president to reduce those protections we have been able to achieve at the Supreme Court level. He has noted his admiration for those justices who have consistently voted against any efforts by GLBT people to establish any right to legal equality, for example Chief Justice Rehnquist, a dissenter in the Lawrence v. Texas case, in which the sodomy laws against gay and lesbian people were stricken.

"Given the alignment of Supreme Court Justices, and their ages, it is virtually certain that if John McCain is president, he will appoint justices who will overturn the Lawrence decision and the leading Supreme Court opponent of fair treatment for gay and lesbian people, Antonin Scalia, will gain allies from McCain's appointments.

"It is also the case that under Republican presidents we have seen virtually no significant appointments of openly gay and lesbian people, with the exception of an ambassador and some appointments to fairly unimportant commissions. In the Clinton administration, by contrast, and the administrations of most Democratic governors, there are appointments made to high positions without regard to any LGBT prejudice and so we are fairly represented."

Via The Democratic Party