Film Focus: The Invisible War

(Trigger Warning: rape, sexual assault)

There has been a lot of rape in the news lately. This is not to say that rape is new, but heavy media coverage of it is. From a small town in Ohio to major cities in India, we are hearing a lot about a crime that is often buried, ignored, and subsequently forgotten. It is tragic the way rape victims (especially male rape victims) get swept under the rug of collective ignorance and denial.

According to the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network, someone is sexually assaulted in the U.S. every two minutes (that’s 15 victims while I’ve been writing this post). 54% of rapes will never be reported and the depressing truth is 97% of rapists will never spend ONE day in jail.

The reality is, and it seems so silly to say this in the year 2013, but rape is not well understood. This is evident when news coverage sympathizes with the rapists, when the victims are interrogated and the public basically forces them to prove to us that they didn’t deserve to be raped, when there are cover-ups, when there are jokes, and so on and on it goes.

So this week I viewed an eye-opening documentary about rape in the military, where victims have fewer options for justice and where rape culture isn’t just tolerated, it’s actively encouraged.

The-Invisible-War-2012

The Invisible War was extremely difficult to get through, the victim’s stories of rape were horrific but what was really infuriating was the way they were mocked, ignored, and otherwise hostilely mistreated by the military justice system (or lack thereof).

What I learned from the film:

-Rapes in the military are severely underreported and most cases never make it to court.

-Rape victims have no access to truly objective investigators or prosecutors, since all cases are handled by the military, and commanders have the power to decide how cases proceed (this power was recently revoked after the Secretary of Defense viewed this documentary).

-In half of reported cases the person to report to was either a friend of the rapist or the rapist themselves.

-While rape allegations rarely result in charges, victims are often charged with making false statements and adultery (even when it is the rapist and not the victim that is married). The victims often get discharged and the allegations (even repeated ones) do not prevent rapists from receiving promotions and honors.

– Military rape victims suffer more severe PTSD symptoms

– In addition, after a failed lawsuit alleging suppression of victims’ rights, the court ruled that rape was an “occupational hazard” in the military and so victims had no right to sue.

-In some cases, rape is actively encouraged as part of tradition, including the Tailhooks scandal involving a tradition in the where women are forced to walk down a hallway while being groped and molested by their male peers.

-Despite rehashed promises from top military brass, no real change has been implemented in the way rape cases are handled.

-The Sexual Assault and Prevention Response Office has only gone as far as releasing training videos which encourage women to “play their part” in preventing rape by “walking with a buddy”.

I could go on, but I encourage you to watch it.

And if you have, what did you think?

5/5 Ticket stubs

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Steubenville Rape Trial: Silence is Consent: WTF?

http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2013/03/steubenville-trial-defense/62967/

Tensions are running high in Steubenville, Ohio after two local high school football heroes went on trial this week for the alleged rape of an unconscious classmate. While several other young men were thought to have been involved directly and indirectly, but lack of physical evidence means they will not be tried.

steubenville-rape

The close-knit mining town community is divided, with the majority siding with the athletes, which many suspect is a result of a deep-seeded loyalty to the football culture that places athletes above reproach. Unfortunately this kind of thing happens all the time in all kinds of places and is often just swept under the rug, but this case has spotlighted after activist hacker group, Anonymous, released video of high school students making light of the alleged sexual assault and pictures surfaced on instagram of the boys holding the seemingly unconscious girl by her wrists and ankles. Subsequently local authorities have made a more stringent effort to investigate (nothing like a media blitz to make people do their jobs, am I right?).

As a pre-law student I understand and believe in “innocent until proven guilty” but I am really angry at the rape apologist culture being exemplified in Steubenville. Here’s why: because of such evidence coming to light, the defense is not going to be arguing that the young men are innocent or that there was a misidentification, instead they will be arguing that the alleged victim never actually said no.

“Defense attorneys believe the girl, who lived across the river in Weirton, W.Va., made a decision to excessively drink and — against her friends’ wishes — to leave with the boys. They assert that she consented to sex,” reports the Cleveland Plain-Dealer’s Rachel Dissell.

Witnesses agree she was nonresponsive and clearly intoxicated by the end of the night. The defense plans to argue that the young woman became drunk on purpose in order to leave with the athletes and thus implicitly consented to everything done to her while she was incapable of saying “NO” and that if she was “sober” enough to go with them to parties, she was also “sober” enough to refuse unwanted sexual conduct.

Hold up. Just making sure this is the year 2013 right? I haven’t time traveled back to the early 1900s have I? As far as I knew, it was common knowledge that just because you accompany someone it DOESN’T GIVE THEM THE RIGHT TO RAPE YOU, and that when you are intoxicated (even willingly so) you CANNOT GIVE CONSENT TO SEX!

I mean seriously?! When are we going to stop blaming rape victims? NO ONE DESERVES TO GET RAPED. Rape is not some kind of karmic justice people incur, EVER. When are we going to stop teaching people how not to get raped and instead teach people not to rape, seems pretty simple to me.

The outcome of this case and hundreds just like it are leaving rape victims in a precarious place. The potential precedent that would be set with a court decision that accepts “silence is consent” is and should be abhorrent to any decent human being.

Am I the only one absolutely appalled by the defense team’s tactic? Sound off below!

Now For Something Completely Different: Spoken Word!

So I don’t know why, but for some reason I’ve been super interested in spoken word lately.

Maybe it’s because videos have been popping up on my Tumblr dashboard (aka procrastination central) a lot.

Maybe it’s because everyone has been running around doing rehearsals for Va-Jay-Jay Chronicles and Dirty Laundry and it’s got me thinking more about social issue performance pieces.

Anyway, spoken word is awesome; it’s equal parts poetry, storytelling, and music.

In honor of all the creativity flowing through the CCC these days, I’m reviewing my top spoken word picks.

Check them out!

#1 “The Last Mile” By Noah St. John
– Noah St. John is only 15 but is already well-known as a spoken word performer who incorporates physical elements into his performances. This piece is about how family comes together when things start falling apart. I loved the build toward the ending.

# 2 “To This Day” By Shane Koyczan
– Shane Koyczan has a beautiful voice and uses poetic techniques to weave his flowing narrative. This is an incredibly emotional piece about growing up bullied and why we must endure.

#3 “What do you know?” By Yellow Rage (Warning: Strong language)
– This piece is unique in that it involves a back and forth between two performers discussing racial stereotypes and being fed up with being put in boxes, this was hilarious and very relatable.

#4 “IT” By Kavi Ade (Warning: Strong language)
– Kavi Ade speaks out about his gender being mischaracterized and put on trial by strangers. This was a very powerful and enlightening performance.

So what’s been moving you lately? Feel free to share!

Also, you’ll see the CCC staff decked out in our amazing Va-Jay-Jay Chronicles shirts for tonight’s show @6, see you there!

Real Talk: Assimilating to Fit In?

Have you noticed the increasing war on terrorism in America? With the topic being covered on every news station at some point during the day its terribly hard to miss, and with the ever increasing image of war on terrorism in our daily lives some have begun to wonder, is the American society attempting to hijack the Muslim men and women of their Islamic culture.  The hijab is a religious piece of clothing to cover the head and face of the practicing Muslim which shows devotion one has to the creator, their God.  In the teachings in the Quran, the Word of God in the Muslim religion, it sums up the purpose for the man was to worship Him- and through the covering of the head one can focus solely on their God.  Some will argue that it is a personal choice and is not required which leads to the debate in the U.S. on the question of the hijab being worn in a work setting, among other places, airports, hospitals, government offices, etc. The issue has even gone to the supreme courts, with Walt Disney being sued for denying an employee to wear her hijab. This battle is a common belief that cultures have acquired through being taught that other cultures and nationalities are different if they look and behave in a different manner. This debate has left some Muslims denouncing the hijab and leaving many of their religious and culture practices behind to assimilate to American society. Some believe this that assimilation is a good thing- where do you stand? Do you believe Muslim’s have to assimilate to fit in?

The Oscars, JLaw, Sexism, Oh My!

So now that the Academy Awards are over and we can all go back to our lives as they were, let’s talk about the magic of the Oscars.

My favorite part of the night was when Jennifer Lawrence (JLaw) tripped on her way to claiming her best actress statute, so amazingly appropriate. I love that woman.

jennifer-lawrence-daniel-day-lewis-oscars-2013

Now onto the less amazing part: Seth MacFarlane.

I’ll start by saying that I have a good sense of humor and I’m not an easy person to offend. I’m always willing to give the benefit of the doubt when someone says or does something that is upsetting. I also rather like Seth MacFarlane and was a fan of Family Guy for a longtime, which let’s be honest, prides itself on pushing the envelope (ßwhere did this phrase even come from anyway?).

So it should come as no surprise that his hosting of the Oscars has drawn criticism for being sexist.

Highlights from the night include the infamous “We Saw Your Boobs” song which included actresses who were topless for rape scenes, to the quip about violence being a “date night” for Chris Brown and Rihanna, to the joke about 9-year old Quvenzhane Wallis being too old for George Clooney in 16 years, and to the jab at actresses “catching to flu” to fit into their dresses.

Now Seth MacFarlane is getting called a lot of unsavory names and many are also coming to his defense.  I am on the fence about the whole thing. What did you think?

Is this a matter of people needing to get a “sense of humor?”

Is it just Seth being Seth or did he cross a line?

Does it make it alright that actresses knew about and took part in the “We Saw Your Boobs” song, made to parody Oscar numbers?

Is there any merit to the argument that there is a double standard at play, because Tina Fey and Amy Poehler did not receive any flak for the jokes they made at the Golden Globes?