Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Stop advocating for prison rape

***TW: Frank discussions of sexual violence***

When discussing cases of sexual violence and rapists, quite often I will hear (or read) some variation on the remark, "I hope they get raped in prison."

There are several reasons I am 100% against rape being used as a punishment or corrective tool against abusers.

Firstly, I don't believe anyone deserves sexual violence. Anyone. Name any abhorrent person who has committed the rankest of atrocities and I still do not and will not believe they are deserving of sexual violence. Punishment and removal from society so that they cannot inflict any more harm, definitely. But I do not believe there is any circumstance under which a perpetrator of sexual violence or any other crime should be sexually assaulted.

Secondly, I do not believe that if we determine that only specifically a tiny selection of extra-horrendous crimes deserve to be punishable by rape, that only the criminals who committed those specific crimes will be punished with rape. I feel that is a slippery slope that just helps to exacerbate the problem of using corrective rape for a broad variety of perceived transgressions to put people in their "place".

Third, and perhaps most importantly, who do people think about as committing those rapes? Who are they sanctioning to use rape as a weapon with their approval? Are they sanctioning prisoners who have already been convicted of rape to rape others? How does that help in their potential rehabilitation before being released back into the public? Are they saying that prisoners who have not raped should be the ones to commit the assault? On a practical, functional level, how would that work? To require someone to rape another person is to enact sexual assault against the both of them, because rape and sexual assault also includes coercion and envelopment/ forcing someone to penetrate another person. And, again, most of these inmates would be released back into the public in the future - what kind of counseling or rehabilitation would the state be providing to these inmates that were forced into being state-sanctioned torturers?

For someone who is a guard in a prison that uses rape as a punishment, what would their level of involvement be? Would they have to bring the two (or more) prisoners together? Would they be in charge of subduing the prisoner who was supposed to be raped? Or would it be a more passive involvement, where if they heard someone calling for help they had to ignore the cries and go about their rounds? How would they keep track of the people who were supposed to be raped, and those not?

Now, if the person they expect to carry out the assault is not another prisoner, then it must be one of the guards or other personnel at the prison. The Stanford Prison Experiment is just one case that shows how unequal levels of power in prison environments can create extremely toxic and abusive cultures where escalating levels of violence are used by those in power. Taking an environment that is already fraught with the potential for abuses by those who are being paid and held responsible for the health and safety of the inmates, and adding torture as a legally-sanctioned method of punishment will only escalate the physical and psychological harm for every single inmate held there. Remember - not only murderers and rapists go to prison. Everything from not paying your taxes to being caught with low levels of recreational drugs for personal use can potentially land someone in jail, with the heaviest burden on POC.

Also consider that if it is the guards who are carrying out, facilitating, or just allowing these rapes as a part of their jobs, they go home at the end of the day. They are still members of our communities. How will having rape being a big part of their job description change them? Will they develop PTSD from the stress of having to commit these horrific acts? Or, if they don't develop stress disorders, have we just created new dangers to our communities that can hide behind a position of authority while taking these crimes home with them?

In order for those convicted rapists to "get their comeuppance", someone has to be the one to carry out those acts. And for the number of times I come across those comments, that would account for a very large number of someones. These consequences would in no way be confined to the prison, but would then leak back into our communities through those connected in every way to the legal system, both directly and by proxy. If you catch someone shoplifting, are you going to report them to teach them a lesson, or be afraid that if you do and they go to jail, they will be punished with a far more severe crime being committed against them? If someone is on trial for having committed rape, their sentence would then include rape as a part of their state-sanctioned punishment. Would jury members be even less likely to want to convict than they are now, knowing the stakes if they're wrong?

Some may say, "You broke the law, you get what you deserve." What about those falsely convicted folks? Are they just more collateral damage in this game of eye for an eye?

Perhaps the person who made the remark about prison rape was just joking and had not given any kind of consideration to the practicalities of state-sanctioned sexual violence. Rape jokes are not funny. Prison rape jokes are not funny. Jokes about "don't drop the soap" that make light of male on male sexual violence aren't funny. They normalize sexual violence, silence survivors, trivialize the effects of sexual violence, and they foster the idea that there are different classes of rapes that are not only amusing but not worth holding the rapist accountable for. None of which do anything to dissuade rape and only encourage sexual predators to continue unabated.

Can we agree, now, to stop using that as our lazy go-to response?

Monday, 21 April 2014

Ignorant does not mean unbiased

I am proud to announce that I have been hired to host a lecture next week on the technological advances of holograms. I have no idea how they work and I suspect they're created through a combination of magic and wishful thinking.

How does this make me qualified to speak on the topic? It makes me the perfect person to speak at length on holograms, because I'm coming at them from a totally unbiased, and therefore more truthful and pure perspective. If I were some sort of techno-scientician who was immersed in hologrammography, then I would only be able to regurgitate the approved propaganda that's been created by the hologrammists who, as we all know, are only interested in the continuation of hologrammism. Whereas I, not being affiliated with or sponsored by these hologrammists, can speak the pure, unadulterated truthishness of what I believe makes holograms not only real but most likely the cure for stubbed toes.

You can join the event page to get ticket information and contribute to my speaking costs here:

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

MRAs don't care about men.

I was going to just press "Publish" and let that title stand alone. After all, there's really not much else to be said about it. If the Men's Rights Activists were really, sincerely invested in caring for men and improving their lives, they would do something proactive like, say, holding fundraising drives to establish intimate partner violence shelters for men, and/or promoting and advocating expansion of services for male survivors of sexual violence, and/or working with organizations like OCAP to address male homelessness.

You don't have to operate under a feminist banner to effect positive change in your community and to make things happen. But, golly, you do have to actually put in a lot of hours, and your own blood, sweat, tears, and money to really move mountains.

Arguing on the internet can be productive and useful, considering that you are most likely interacting with other humans on the other end, but that's not the end of it. Not by a long shot.

You want people to take you seriously, MRAs? How about you show us that you actually give a crap about helping your fellow dudes by actually doing something to help them.

Are there any MRA campaigns you're aware of that are doing tangible, productive things for your community? Please let me know so I can put my support behind them.

(Spoiler alert: if your evidence of their activity is one of their poster campaigns, I will laugh you off of the internet. Trolling IRL is not activism)

Saturday, 5 April 2014

The "Friend Zone" is bullshit

Ah, yes. The "Friend Zone". That term folks use to insult the people who are friends with them and don't see fit to give them access to their squidgy bits. 

I get it. You spend a lot of time with someone as a friend, you develop a strong bond with them, and then you want to take the relationship "to the next level". Or maybe you started out with an attraction to them and with the intention of eventually dating them.

You're cool. You're suave. You listen to them and make them feel valued and heard and loved. Then, you finally build up the confidence to ask them out and BLAMMO - rejection.

I'm not gonna lie, it sucks when you have feelings for someone and they don't reciprocate them. It's not a pleasant experience and you're bound to have some feels about it. That's ok. Feel bad for a bit, talk to other friends about it and vent, write poetry, etc, to help you deal with those feelings.

But don't go into the "Friend Zoning" bullshit. That's gross and doesn't help you or them and, guaranteed, won't change their mind and make them realize you're a "catch".

What it boils down to is this: you are allowed to be honest about your feelings with the people you're close to. If you are romantically interested in someone, you are allowed to tell them. There's a risk, sure, there's also a risk if you don't. If they don't reciprocate those feelings, you're allowed to be disappointed. You're even allowed to decide that you don't want to be friends with them if you can't be in a romantic relationship with them. Heck, maybe they are purposely stringing you along and toying with your emotions. That happens, and you're allowed to not like it or put up with it.

Now, here's where I think a lot of people (not just guys, even though that entitlement does come up a lot when discussing guys putting gals into The Girlfriend Zone) get confuzzled: you can harbour these disappointments. The line gets crossed when you cannot get past that. When you cannot fathom that someone you put so much time and attention and energy into dared not return those feelings. When you start to get angry with them for having standards that you apparently haven't met. When you use "Friend Zone" as a term to disparage them for not "giving you a chance."

And this is the most important point of this whole post - no one has to give anyone else "a chance" to date them. The only thing we have control over is our bodies, and each person has 100% say as to who is going to have access to their body. In a dating context, it's fair to say that most partners want to date someone in order to be physically intimate with them (asexuals definitely exist, but I've never seen anyone who identifies as asexual accuse the object of their affections of putting them in "The Friend Zone" - feel free to correct me if I'm wrong). No one owes you that or "a chance" at that, no matter if you're just looking to hold hands, looking for a kiss, or looking for some naked Jello wrestling.

To bring it home, let's talk about your rights and obligations to the people who are interested in you. You can turn someone down for any reason at all. They have bad breath, they don't like the bands you like, they're allergic to cats, they're left-handed, you don't get squishy feelings when you're around them - literally any reason at all. Your reasons for not wanting to be romantically involved with someone don't have to "make sense". I promise you, they don't. You don't have to be able to verbalize your reasons for not wanting to be with them. Not wanting to be with them is 100% enough. "No" is absolutely a complete sentence.

Understanding that you have these rights to who you let close to you, apply that now to everyone else in the world. If they say they're not interested in dating you, that's all the reason they need. Maybe that will someday change but, it's been my experience, if you continue the friendship with the sole intention of changing their mind then you will lose them as a friend as well. They'll get sick of your pestering, passive-aggressive Fall Out Boy bullshit and they'll stop returning your messages and work on prying you out of their lives. If you still want to be friends, you've gotta reign that shit in. Maybe after you tell them your romantic feelings they'll decide they don't feel comfortable being friends with you, either. That's a risk. That happens.

What can you do to avoid being that asshole that complains about The Friend Zone? Find some hobbies. Listen to a Jagged Little Pill on repeat while throwing paint at a canvas. Make new friends. If you're surrounded by people who push you to keep trying and who use the term The Friend Zone unironically and frequently, maybe tell them to stop listening to Taylor Swift for a couple days and hide their copies of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (I'm looking at you, Xander).

the1janitor is wise and generally awesome and you should subscribe to his YouTube channel and share the love to him you've shared with me 

In summation, you are 100% justified in feeling upset and disappointed in being romantically rejected. If you choose to use that rejection to perpetuate this Friend Zone non-sense, then you deserve to be alone and are a bad person.