Category Archives: Sexual Assault

Layers of Consent

destiny green

Destiny Green

SIUE Sociology and Women’s Studies Alum Destiny Green is Prevention Educator and Girls Group Facilitator at Safe Connections in St. Louis, MO. The title of this piece comes from one of her colleagues who mentioned that students often will say “I didn’t know that consent has that many layers.”  Here, Green boils down the core elements that go into healthy sexual relationships and consent negotiations.

I LOVE my job. Because it’s necessary.

I talk to pre-teens and teens about healthy sexual encounters, consent, and coercion and I’ve gotten good at laying out the basics that are important for healthy fun sex that is a good time for everybody.

Consent is an 100% enthusiastic “Hell yes” as it pertains to inviting someone else to your space/body. NOT a “uhh idk” “if you want to” “maybe”…it has to be BEYOND THE SHADOW OF A DOUBT that I want whatever you are offering. Period.

A person that is sleep, intoxicated, or underage canNOT give consent—even if they say/have said “yes.”

 

consent unconscious

An image from Charles Darwin University’s online consent training, with a “no” symbol added by SIUE WMST

Consent is fluid. It can be reneged. It can be revoked. You have to KEEP asking for it.
Just because someone consented to something last Saturday, does NOT mean its cool this Tuesday.

STILL gotta ask for consent if you’re in a relationship. STILL gotta ask for consent if you’re married—Simply because YOUR BODY DOES NOT STOP BEING YOUR BODY when your relationship status changes.

If a person is not allowed to say “no,” it is NOT a consensual interaction. Which brings me to coercion…

Coercion is a very important concept to understand. It is a type of “yes” that comes from manipulation, pressuring someone, guilt tripping someone, etc.—which are all things that usually comes after someone says “no, I’m good/I don’t want to/I changed my mind.”

Unfortunately, THIS is how most sex is had.

This is also how people (particularly women) get in situations that they didn’t want to be in, i.e. “I just gave him my number/fake number/your number, because he wouldn’t quit asking me EVEN after I said that ‘I’m not interested’.” Because coercion is the “game” your uncles and older cousins taught y’all. Coercion is doing/saying whatever it is that you have to do and say to get them to say “yes.”

Marinate on these concepts.

If you’ve been a survivor of any of these scenarios, know that it is NOT YOUR FAULT.

If you’ve done any of these things, ACCEPT IT, OWN IT, and DO BETTER from this day forth.

And it doesn’t matter if you agree or not. These are things that you MUST be aware of so that sexual encounters can be happy and healthy, and so that no one feels taken advantage of!

Either do this, or catch a case.

I know that it sounds like a lot. But it only seems like a hassle because no one sat us (millennials and older) down and educated us on this. We are not informed.

And it shows.

And I’m sad.

FRIES

—————————————————–

For additional resources, see:

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Gender, Masculinity, Sexual Assault, Uncategorized

Men, Power, and Everyday Feminism

An SIUE alum now in grad school elsewhere reflects on the assumption that men are entitled to women’s attention whether they are reading, mourning, taking a train ride, talking with friends, or just not interested. Because of the charged nature of the comments, and the possibility of local retaliation in the current environment, the author wishes to remain anonymous.

TW: Discussion of rape culture, violence against women, Kavanaugh hearings, Bill Cosby sentencing, etc

Hi, everyone! Brevity is not my strong suit, but I will try to be brief. That said, I have multiple stories that I would like to share with you. I am currently pursuing my second a Master’s degree and, like other places and campuses across the country, my place has been buzzing about the recent Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh and the allegations of sexual assault brought against him by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a psychology professor at Palo Alto University and, as of this writing, at least three other women. Among other news traveling through the campus grapevine are the trial and subsequent conviction of Bill Cosby for drugging and then sexually assaulting many women.

It was in this context that, just two days ago, I was standing in line at a local cafe when I overheard a young, early-20-something undergraduate discussing the Kavanaugh debacle in a very disturbing way. He was conversing with a fellow undergraduate, a young woman who looked to be about the same age. He claimed to not understand “what the big deal was” and that “stuff like that” (the activities that Kavanaugh participated in as a high school student in the 80s) happens “all the time.” There were also claims that Brett Kavanaugh and co. were “young kids.” A week prior to this encounter, I’d overheard another, very similar account–this time in regards to fraternities on our campus which endorsed sexual assault not unlike the famous Yale fraternity that chanted “No means yes, yes means anal,” a chant that was later echoed by fraternities across the country including at Texas Tech.  The overarching sentiment it seemed to me was “What’s the big deal? This is so commonplace that it isn’t noteworthy. Get over it. Let them be kids.”

Around the same time that I’d heard the comments about Theta Tau, I witnessed another incident on campus. I’d been walking from my house to the CVS that’s a couple blocks from my campus. As I was walking down the promenade of campus, I passed two girls about my size (quite short). They were clearly friends, and one of them was talking to another friend on her phone. As they walked past me, two guys about their age—they were all white and looked to be late teens, early 20s—approached them.

A man in a grey suit and hat, smiling, leans over the back of a bench inside a train car. He is leering or smiling at a young blong woman dressed all in black as though in mourning clothes. She is not smiling, and is looking directly at the viewer.

“The Irritating Gentleman”, by Berthold Woltze, painted in the late 1870’s. Dudes demanding women’s attention? Not new. The young woman, dressed all in black, could be in mourning. She is certainly simply traveling along on her own agenda. She is looking somberly directly at the viewer.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Gender, Masculinity, Sexual Assault, Uncategorized

Walk a mile in our shoes ….by learning about our actual experiences

Recently (yesterday), SIUE participated in the national event known as “Walk A Mile in Her Shoes.” As is typical of such programs across the nation, and as described in a press release from SIUE earlier today, “Men crammed their feet into red high heels and walked on the campus of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville on Tuesday,  Feb.13 to support women and to bring attention to gender-based violence.” While a post-event session offered by SIUE’s Prevention and Education Advocacy Center (PEACe) offered much more depth and a chance to really learn about being active bystanders and preventing violence, the event is often reduced in the public perception to being about the red shoes walk, itself. Our own Prof. Saba Fatima (SIUE Philosophy Department) reflects on this  public perception of these kinds of events–not necessarily the SIUE event itself–in a blog entry authored before the event took place. Note that this public perception is reflected in the way that the University’s press release covered the event even though the event itself contained a much richer opportunity to explore issues of gender, sexual harassment, and other aspects of sexism.

Walk a mile in her shoes 02-13-18 high heals

Men in pants stand on one foot and stick out the other, linking arms in a semicircle in front of the Cougar statue outside of SIUE’s Morris University Center. They are wearing bright red high heels. This is the public perception of what the event is about. This is also the image taken from the SIUE press release about the event. The picture was taken February 13, 2018. Shown in the center is Jeffrey Waple, vice chancellor for student affairs at SIUE, who led the march.

Across US campuses, men get involved in “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event an effort to raise awareness for violence against women. So on Feb. 13th SIUE men walked in high heels to literally experience what it feels like to walk in a woman’s shoes. The idea is an event that is a “playful opportunity for men to raise awareness in their community about the serious causes, effects and remediations to men’s sexualized violence against women.”

The whole point of ‘Walk a Mile Her Shoes’ is to get a glimpse of what women experience. The walk is generally followed by providing productive information that focuses on raising awareness about sexual violence. I think everyone that organizes & participates in it has their heart in the right place, but perhaps we need to rethink specifically the ‘high heels’ activity that accompanies this intent. I cannot help but think that there is something off about men walking in high heels to experience women’s experiences. Here are a few thoughts on it:

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Body Image, Gender, Masculinity, Sexual Assault, Social Justice, Sports, Uncategorized

PEACe in: SIUE has a new Sexual Assault and Intimate Partner Violence Initiative

On the heels of our previous blog entry on sexual assault for April, which is sexual assault awareness month, we have good news from a new SIUE staff member whose job is entirely focused on this and related issues.  Meet Samantha Dickens. She has kindly provided her contact information at the bottom in case you want to get ahold of her.

Greetings, SIUe students, faculty, and staff!vawa bipartisan

SIUe competed for and was awarded the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) grant in October 2016, allowing us to create the Prevention Education and Advocacy Center (PEACe) and hire a program coordinator: myself, Samantha Dickens. The VAWA grant is facilitated through the Office of Violence Against Women (OVW), and the act has existed for over twenty years. During this time, OVW has refined the grant process based on research and critical analysis of that research, creating a three year grant with multiple structured trainings for the grant team and access to a point of contact with OVW and technical assistants who are experts in their fields of strategic planning, prevention education, cultural competency, and several other topics.

VAWA support

IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A young woman with shoulder length curly black hair, brown skin, dark eyes, and pink lipstick holds a white markerboard. She is smiling just slightly. On the board is written “I support VAWA because it funds and provides CRITICAL and LIFE-SAVING services.”

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Gender, Masculinity, Sexual Assault, Social Justice, Uncategorized

What’s Your Type? Race, Gender, Attraction, and Sexualization

Alison Reiheld, SIUE Associate Professor of Philosophy and Director of SIUE Women’s Studies Program, brings us PART 4 in our series on gender, sexualization, and the media.

Every once in awhile, Wikipedia has a surprisingly well fleshed-out entry. One of these is the description of racial fetishism. This:

…involves fetishizing a person or culture belonging to a race or ethnic group that is not one’s own—therefore it involves racial/ethnic stereotyping and objectifying those bodies who are stereotyped, and at times their cultural practices. This can include having strong racial preferences in dating… 

Do you know someone who tends to only date people of their own race? What about someone who tends to date people of another particular race?  What is the line between preference and fetish, between finding certain particular kinds of people beautiful and treating them particularly, out of all other groups, as sex objects?

The African-American online magazine, The Root, has an article called “5 signs you’re about to be racially fetishized.” It begins “So… What’s your type? Admit it. You probably have one. Most of us do.” The author goes on to describe her experiences with on-line dating and the dating app Tinder:

As a member of what is purportedly the least-pursued demographic online (smart, sexy and successful, yet single, black women), I was understandably leery about what—and whom—I’d encounter on an app best known for “hookups.” But in the interest of adventure, I braced myself for potential encounters with predators, grade-A creepers and flat-out racists.

I wasn’t prepared for the fetishists… my experiences dating “across the aisle” were no preparation for the highly racialized world of online dating.

beware white boys on tinder

 

Such fetishization of African-American women relies on stereotypes about black women’s sexuality such as those described by sociologist Patricia Hill Collins in her book Black  Feminist Thought.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Body Image, Gender, Race, Sexual Assault, Uncategorized

“He said/She said” and the gendered dynamics of rape reporting

SIUE Criminal Justice faculty member Trish Oberweis has long been concerned with sexual assault, especially on college campuses. In this blog entry, Dr. Oberweis again takes up this long-standing concern. She wishes to thank former SIUE faculty member Carly Hayden Foster, now on the Political Science faculty of Luther College, for assistance in developing this consideration of a local sexual assault case and how it reflects light on taking women’s word for it.  Does presuming innocence on the part of the alleged perpetrator require presuming incompetence or malfeasance on the part of the alleged victim?

–Alison Reiheld, Director of SIUE’s Women’s Studies Program

This autumn, Missouri House candidate Cora Faith Walker alleged that Steven Roberts, Jr., another House candidate from a different district, raped her. They were strategizing legislation together, in anticipation of a future in which they would both be elected to the Missouri House of Representatives from their respective districts, and would be collaborating on various projects. It was a late meeting, and one that Walker asserts ended in violence.

cora-faith-walkerShe reported the crime to police, who investigated it. On October 25, 2016, the special prosecutor appointed to the case, Tim Lohmar, declined to press charges. “There simply wasn’t enough credible evidence that sexual relations between these two people were anything but consensual,” he said. In other words, it was a he said/she said situation. How can we possibly sort out that sort of situation?

Well, I am not convinced that it is really that difficult.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Sexual Assault, Social Justice, Uncategorized

Should Universities be Seeking Awareness or Effectiveness with Sexual Assault Prevention Programs?

A student who wishes to remain anonymous has taken multiple Women’s Studies courses including an independent study this semester, the capstone project for which involves not just one but two blog entries for us. He has worked with WMST faculty member Dr. Trish Oberweis on Sexual Assault Prevention research for the university and has done two independent study courses focusing on in depth research of issues surrounding sexual assault.  He will be graduating this weekend with a major in Criminal Justice and Sociology. Congratulations! Without further ado, I yield the floor for the first of his two blog entries.

–Alison Reiheld, Director of SIUE Women’s Studies

It is assumed and expected that prevention programs should be reducing sexual assault, but the critical question that not many talk about is: Should the main objective be increasing awareness in the hopes that women will be encourage to report instead of focusing on reducing sexual assault or should the goal be to achieve both prevention and awareness? Is it possible to completely abolish sexual assault on college campuses? The massive amount of underreporting doesn’t support this. Universities like Southern Illinois University Carbondale received a bad rapport for providing effective programming when their statistics of reports go up after an academic year of improved programming. Is it possible that you can achieve both effectiveness and awareness, and is there a cap on how far steps can be taken for legislators, faculty, staff, and students to fix the proposed problem?

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Gender, Masculinity, Sexual Assault, Uncategorized