• There has been a lot of activism on college campuses over the past year around getting school administrators to take sexual assault seriously. A new website called Know Your IX aims to be a resource to help students end sexual violence on their campuses. [Know Your IX]
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Over the past year, Academy Award-nominated documentary The Invisible War has shone a spotlight on the issue of sexual assault in the military. Politicians and civilians alike are talking about this problem more than ever. While progress is slow, it seems the military will make some change. I spoke with Coast Guard veteran and rape survivor Kori Cioca, one of the film's main subjects, to see what she thinks about the film, her experiences in the military, and her life since the documentary's release.
• 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]
• Charting the impact of "Everyday Sexism": After a year, the project to collect stories of everyday harassment and discrimination is now provoking change among both individuals and at least one police department. [New York Times]
This past year, rape has dominated the headlines. From front-page coverage of the Penn State trials to Todd Akin's "legitimate rape" comment to international outcry about gang rape in India to national focus on Steubenville, talking about rape—a long-silenced topic—is finally a mainstream conversation. We are in a unique cultural moment where the ever-present epidemic of sexual violence is being recognized.
We need to not only recognize the reality of rape, but work to end it. We need a platform to honor survivors that will forever change the way the American public responds to their experiences. We need to create a national monument to survivors of rape and abuse.
It's hard to talk about and even harder to film. In this exclusive Bitch Q&A, feminist poet and writer Katha Pollitt talks with filmmaker Jennifer Baumgardner about her powerful new film, It Was Rape.
KATHA POLLITT: Your new film "It Was Rape" consists almost entirely of 8 women, telling the story of their rape and its aftermath in great detail. I found it simultaneously compelling and unbearable to watch. How did you find women willing to identify themselves as rape survivors?
JENNIFER BAUMGARDNER: Sadly, it was incredibly easy finding people who had been raped. I lecture frequently on college campuses and each time I mentioned that I was working on this film and project, at least two people would approach me after the talk to tell me about their story. I somewhat randomly chose the stories that ended up in the film. Going into the interviews, I didn't know the stories beyond the barest sketch.
Most of the women in the film were not out in public about being raped—often they had discussed it with just a few people in their lives—but they were hungry for a venue in which they could talk about this really huge, life-altering event and be listened to respectfully and openly. I had no problem getting people to talk. That said, many were scared to see their interviews when the film was finished. The prospect of being in the public opened up the possibility of being not believed (again) or blamed (again).