Rape Culture Excuses Itself

In Saturday’s International Herald Tribune, Lisa Shannon has a great piece on why excusing mass rape in Congo as part of “their culture” is ridiculous and dangerous. It is hard article to read, for me because I do not like feeling complicit in another person’s suffering, and that is what my culture is doing to another culture.

I believe in looking inward when I look outward. Meaning, when I look at the problems of another country, I challenge myself to examine my own. Notice the log in your own eye if you want to discuss the sawdust in another’s.*

How do we dismiss sexual assault? In white America, one way is the teeth-grinding, rage-inducing excuse, “Boys will be boys.” Those four words have such power: they release the offender from being responsible for his actions, and they completely disempower and silence the abused girl or woman. It’s a get-out-of-jail-free card and duct tape over the mouth in four words, one of which is used twice!

If a boy grabs my ass, “Boys will be boys.”
If a boy grabs my tits, “Boys will be boys.”
If a boy catcalls me, “Boys will be boys.”

Within the anti-sexual violence movement (and any discussion around healthy sexuality), the idea of consent is very central. Speaking from my experience growing up in the American South (specifically Texas), starting at consent is starting a few steps ahead of myself. I have been silenced; I have had my voice taken away; I have lost my ability to consent. The culture of dismissal of girls and women’s accusations of harassment sexual violence, whether my own or another person’s, are part of that silencing. I have had to take many years and many more to come to rediscover my voice and my consent. I know I am not alone.

On the other side of this phrase are the boys. Boys will not always be boys. Boys will be men. What kind of men are we creating when teach them that they are excused from the responsibility of their own actions? When we don’t take the time to talk to them or model for them what behaviors are “okay”? When we show them that women’s voices mean nothing?

We can do better. To change our human culture, we cannot be complicit. Sexual violence is inexcusable, from the playground to the warground. And we are all part of (re)creating our culture, one of respect, equality and joy.

* To help in the campaign against the atrocities committed against Congolese women, please donate to or get involved with Stop Rape in DRC at http://www.stoprapeindrc.org/.

Crossposted at Envision Williamsburg,

Bikers are assholes

After I left my job to focus on school full time, I decided to get a bike to reduce my commuting expenses and inject exercise into my daily routine (outside of the gym). As a pedestrian, I am far more afraid of bikes than I am of cars, because bikers are assholes. They have the attitude of pedestrians (meaning they feel they have the right of way) without the dexterity to get out of the way or stop quickly. I’ve never been hit by a car in this city, but I’ve been swiped by a bike messenger.Continue reading “Bikers are assholes”

A Lesson of Consequences: A Child’s Story

Sixth grade in my school system is the first year of of Intermediate School. For me, it was the year I got my period, but that is not this story. My history class did a unit on the Holocaust. I had one of those special teachers you get every once in awhile who goes the extra mile to make the lessons special. Was it history? I think it maybe was an English class that lasted two class periods. Not that it matters.Continue reading “A Lesson of Consequences: A Child’s Story”

A Short Food Basis Review

This summer I signed up for a CSA at Bluestockings (called Foodstockings!), but it doesn’t start until June (right when I’m in Guatemala). Since I had a couple of weeks to wait, I decided to try out Food Basis. A good friend of mine had told me about them a few times. The goal is get good, traceable food from small to mid-sized farmers to the table at prices that are competitive with the grocery store. Continue reading “A Short Food Basis Review”

Protecting Women’s Health Globally

I just received an email from the International Women’s Health Coalition. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) have introduced legislation to permanently end the Global Gag Rule. Continue reading “Protecting Women’s Health Globally”

First Time with Fresh Pasta

Now, I should probably have looked up something about cooking fresh pasta. But who needs directions? Especially when you will eat anything (well, anything vegetarian). My meal was really good, but apparently you are still supposed to boil the pasta, even though it is fresh. I think my method is better, at least until I try the other method. Either way, the results speak for themselves:

Oh, that is some good pasta.Continue reading “First Time with Fresh Pasta”

HDI and GDI: What is Human?

Measuring development is difficult (it’s complicated, as my Comparative Development class likes to say). There are so many moving parts and ways to view and define development, that any one measurement or set of measurements is sure to miss the whole story. But measure things we do, in order to track progress, compare countries, and focus our efforts. The UNDP for the past twenty years has released the Human Development Index (HDI), which should give an evolving yet comprehensive look at development. The HDI value, however, cannot be an accurate indicator of development. Why? Because the Gender-related Development Index (GDI) exists.Continue reading “HDI and GDI: What is Human?”

i don’t deserve magic powers

If I were a magical person (by Harry Potter standards), I would use my powers to accomplish the mundane tasks in my life. I realized this while doing laundry today. Houses would be cleaned, rooms kept tidy, laundry done, etc., without me having to put my brain and my time to work. I could accomplish the more important things in my life: research, blog posts, twitter comments, hanging out with my cat, becoming fluent in Spanish, editing my documentary project, without household tasks being left undone.Continue reading “i don’t deserve magic powers”