• Military sexual assaults are up 50 percent in the last year as a result of increased reporting. The government is specifically targeting male victims who report at an even lower rate than female victims. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a recent news conference, "We have to fight the cultural stigmas that discourage reporting and be clear that sexual assault does not occur because a victim is weak, but rather because an offender disregards our values and the law." [AP]
If you don’t pay attention to the thrilling world of ice hockey, you likely haven’t heard about Semyon Varlamov (above), the star goalie for the Colorado Avalanche hockey team. Last Wednesday, Varlamov turned himself in to Denver police for domestic violence. On more sports fans’ radars is the news this week about Miami Dolphins’ guard Richie Incognito, who is accused of bullying a young teammate so mercilessly with racist and homophobic slurs that the player felt compelled to leave the team.
Both cases highlight the tendency of sports and mainstream media to give athletes a pass for conduct that would be reprehensible in people not worth billions of dollars. But both media and management treated the two cases of abuse very differently. While Incognito’s bullying of a teammate has resulted in a tidal wave of bad PR and administrative punishment, Varlamov’s alleged harassment of his girlfriend has so far resulted in very little comeuppance.
Marissa Alexander is a mother of three, a Black woman, and a survivor of abuse. She is currently sitting in a Florida prison for firing a warning shot into the wall of her house to dissuade her abusive husband from attacking her. Last month, an appeals court overturned her conviction, ruling that the jury received flawed instructions on self-defense.
Marissa Alexander’s case illustrates how abuse survivors are often criminalized and further abused by the legal system.
• From the Department of Bad Ideas: Gawker has created a Privilege Tournament in the form of an NCAA–style bracket. "Privilege has its benefits," writes creator Hamilton Nolan, "but the lack of privilege confers that sweet, sweet moral superiority." Keep it classy, Gawker. [Feministing]
• From the department of extra-bad ideas: Author and University of Toronto professor David Gilmour caused a continental stir yesterday when an interview revealed this quote: "I'm not interested in teaching books by women." He went on to say, "What I teach is guys. Serious heterosexual guys. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chekhov, Tolstoy. Real guy-guys. Henry Miller. Philip Roth." Roxane Gay addresses his shortsightedness with a reading list and some pointed responses. [Salon]
• Cloudy with a chance of bigots: Guido Barilla, CEO of pasta giant Barilla, declared that the brand would never advertise with images of gay families, saying "I think the family we speak to is a classic family." He walked back his remarks a bit once news of the statement sparked a Barilla boycott, but the damage seems to be done. Good news for Ronzoni! [The Guardian]
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George and Shellie Zimmerman, appearing in court. Photo via.
In case you haven't heard, George Zimmerman went berserk Monday, punching his father-in-law in the face and pulling a gun on his estranged wife. Shellie Zimmerman, who is filing for divorce, called 911 screaming, "I'm really, really scared."
Zimmerman is the man acquitted of shooting Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager. When Shellie Zimmerman first began talking to the press about the divorce, she said the highly publicized trial ruined her life. But she also cited Zimmerman's verbal abuse and self-centeredness as reasons she wants to leave the marriage. "I have a selfish husband….George is all about George," she told the press. With this episode of domestic violence, she told authorities, "I don't know what he's capable of."
But we do know what he's capable of. He's capable of killing an unarmed kid and thinking the action is justified.
If you only know of Charles Saatchi as the guy who recently choked his famous wife in public, you may be wondering: "Should we have seen this coming? Has Charles Saatchi always been a complete asshat?" The answer is: Kind of! And if you tend to feel that douchiness generally correlates with the practice of unfettered, world-beating capitalism, than definitely.
• This quote says it all: "If we as a society have any interest in preventing mass shootings -- crimes that seem so senseless, so unpredictable -- we have got to look at domestic violence." [The Stranger]
Supporting survivors of domestic violence should be an easy political issue. And yet! For months, the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act has been derailed by Republican opposition to the bill's plans to expand protections for Native American, LGBT, and immigrant communities.
In our most recent print issue, writer Maya Dusenbery spells out why violence against women is such a crucial issue for the government to address—but why focusing efforts primarily on putting abusers in jail is problematic:
While ostensibly committed to building a "coordinated community response" to violence against women, the law privileges a pro-criminalization strategy. The original legislation was wrapped in the largest crime bill in U.S. history, and more than half of the initial funding was allocated to law-enforcement efforts. This focus means, for example, that U visas are only available to undocumented survivors who are willing to cooperate with a criminal investigation. Critics of the legislation have argued that relying on the state to protect women from violence can be counterproductive, particularly for poor communities of color. As Angela Davis asked in 2000, "Can a state that is thoroughly infused with racism, male dominance, class-bias, and homophobia, and that constructs itself in and through violence act to minimize violence in the lives of women?"