Friday, December 19, 2003

Race, Rape, and Webelieveher 

(Dialogue on this topic actually began on our July 29th blog, which we urge you all to read)

As the issue of racism surfaces repeatedly in the “comments” section of the site, let us begin by complimenting all of you, believers and otherwise, on your keen acknowledgement that we cannot discuss sexual assault without discussing our society’s dynamics, and we certainly cannot begin to discuss the dynamics of our society without recognizing the racism inherent in our criminal justice system, as well as in our other institutions. At webelieveher, we acknowledge and agree that people of color, especially men of color, are singled out and quickly profiled as “criminal” in an unfair, racist, and shameless manner frequently, and that this is intrinsically wrong.

We also acknowledge that historically, black men were often murdered (lynched, burned, or subjected to other terrible fates) after being accused of raping white women, and that many of those accusations were indeed, unfounded, and empty excuses to practice horrific acts of racism.

It is very important to remember this painful chapter in our American history, and also to recognize that although we have taken some steps, the oppression suffered by people of color at the hands of a white-dominant society is far from over, and still very much a part of our laws, lives, and institutions. This, also, is fundamentally immoral.

At webelieveher, we also feel it crucial to acknowledge the oppression of women, and how that oppression plays into sexual assault. The crime of sexual assault is itself a manifestation of fundamental power inequality dynamics in our society. Sexual assault happens because our society teaches rapists to equate sex with violence and power, rather than with love and intimacy. Victims of sexual assault, often women, are then held to arbitrary standards of morality which blame them for the crime, as well as demonize them for reporting it. NEVER are victims of other crimes put through this type of “victims trial.” Anyone can be a victim, and our criminal justice system is not intended to be used against victims; it is intended to bring justice to those accused of breaking laws.

These two types of oppression are not in conflict. They are, in fact, interrelated. Today’s social structure is, sadly, maintained by interlocking systems of oppression based on color, gender, class, religion, ability, sexual identity, and many other human differences. All of this is very important when looking at the “big picture.”

In this particular sexual assault case, the victim is white and the accused is black. Although a majority of sexual assaults do not have that dynamic (most incidences of sexual violence, as well as other violence, are intra-racial, meaning that both perpetrator and victim are of the same race), this one does. That does not mean that we should not listen to the victims claim, for she, as a woman and a rape survivor, is subject to enormous oppression, as we have seen in the vehement reaction of some to this site.

Webelieveher does not condone, endorse, or excuse discrimination in any form. We will continue to delete any posts, victim-supportive or otherwise, that condone, support, or encourage any racist ideology. Similarly, we will delete any postings that call for violence, blame the victim, or use offensive and/or derogatory language. (And for those of you who are upset that this makes us “biased,” allow me to be the first to say that webelieveher is absolutely and unashamedly biased towards an anti-oppression, nonviolent ideology. We never claimed to be anything else.) It is important to discuss race and oppression, as silence around these issues only compounds them, and we encourage you to continue doing so in a respectful manner.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Link to add to favorites 

We've added a link over on the right sidebar to add this page to your favorites/bookmark list in your browser. Many of you may have already done so, but now it's even easier!

Monday, December 08, 2003

WeBelieveHer goes platinum! 

Well, close enough by internet standards, anyway. Within the past few hours, we've passed the 10,000 visitor mark on the main page. We actually probably hit that mark several days ago, but the counter was on the fritz for a while and then there were those problems with the site host. But now we can officially proclaim it: over 10,000 individuals from around the world have shown their support and raised their unified voices in a chorus of protest over the treatment of rape victims everywhere. We will continue our support in unbroken silence.

Resource for supporters 

Jackson Katz and the great folks at the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA) have put together a bulletin on "What to say when you're asked about the Kobe Bryant case". We highly recommend giving it a read.

If you're not familiar with Jackson or his work, you should check both out. According to his website, he "is one of America's leading anti-sexist male activists. He is widely recognized for his groundbreaking work in the field of gender violence prevention education with men and boys, particularly in the sports culture and the military. He has lectured on hundreds of college and high school campuses and has conducted hundreds of professional trainings, seminars, and workshops in the U.S., Canada, and Japan." His video Tough Guise: Violence, Media, and the Crisis in Masculinity is a groundbreaking look at how violent masculinity is fostered in the culture. His latest video, Wrestling With Manhood: Boys, Bullying, and Battering, takes a critical look at the unfiltered messages boys take away from watching professional wrestling. More information about both videos can be found online either at Jackson's website or at the Media Education Foundation.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Site back up! 

We would have blogged about this earlier today, but we were having trouble accessing the Blogger website. Needless to say, the main site is back up and running. We're going to be moving to a more competent hosting provider over the next few days to avoid such outages. Thank you for bearing with us.

And just a quick note about threats in the Comments. We just deleted a post that was brief and unsupportive and ended with what appears to be a threat against the victim. We immediately deleted this post and banned the IP address from where it came. We will continue to monitor the Comments and the believer list on the main page. If any more such threats are posted, against any individual on any side of this case, we will not hesitate to contact the appropriate law enforcement authorities. It is one thing to call someone names, it is quite a different thing altogether to wish or threaten harm on that person. We will absolutely not stand for it. At our core, we are anti-violence advocates who believe you cannot solve violence with violence. Consider this fair warning.

Finally, thank you to the believers and supporters who continue to engage in constructive and informed dialogue. You're participation is going a long way in helping survivors of sexual violence.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Main site issues 

If you've been having problems accessing the main page, you're in good company. Our hosting provider has brought the site down 5 times in the past 5 days. We are looking into other hosting providers. The blog will continue to operate and update, but it may be a day or three before the main page is back up. Thanks for your patience and your continued support of survivors.

Friday, December 05, 2003

My Turn: How Would My Rape Shape My Kids’ Lives? 

Newsweek's weekly My Turn essay this week is "How Would My Rape Shape My Kids’ Lives?" It discusses one woman's struggle in telling her two teenage daughters about the sexual violence she experienced the summer after her first year in college. She concludes with the following thought: "Perhaps by telling them about my rape and my recovery I’m empowering them to venture out into the world with their eyes wide open." Thank you to Ellen Sussman for sharing her story with us all.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Another worthy read 

This article first appeared in the Washington Post on November 9. It's by Alice Vachss, a former chief of the special victims bureau in the district attorney's office of Queens, New York, and the author of "Sex Crimes: Ten Years on the Front Lines Prosecuting Rapists and Confronting Their Collaborators" (Random House). It appears online in The Daily Camera: Insight.

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