Tag: survivor

WISCONSIN STATE REP. MELISSA SARGENT: “We must work to end the rape culture”

REPUBLISHER’S NOTE: Below the horizontal line is an op-ed, originally published by the Madison, Wisconsin-based newspaper The Cap Times, that was written by Wisconsin State Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison). The op-ed has been republished to this blog, as it appeared on The Cap Times’s website, with permission from Representative Sargent.


A young woman woke up not sure where she was.

She was covered in pine needles, her hands and elbows bloody. As she laid on a hospital gurney trying to put the pieces together, doctors performed one invasive procedure after another to determine what had happened. She was told — hours later, after she was finally allowed to shower — that she had been sexually assaulted and was found unconscious behind a dumpster.

By now, many of you have heard about this brutal rape on the Stanford campus. The power of social media allowed millions of us to read the chilling testimony that the victim read aloud to her assailant in court. And like me, I’m sure you were horrified by the light sentence — at most, six months in the county jail and three years’ probation — that the judge gave to the Stanford student. Not even a slap on the wrist.

This case is the definition of our society’s rape culture.

This made me think back to a few weeks ago when I was visiting a middle school in my district. I was talking to a young woman about her college plans. This seventh-grader said she has just read UW-Madison’s campus climate survey, which showed that one in four women will experience sexual violence during their time on the Madison campus. She told me that she felt she had to choose between her safety and her ability to pursue higher education.

This is wholly unacceptable.

As women, we are taught almost from birth that we have to be careful, and take extra precautions for our safety. There is a strict set of unwritten rules for women: Don’t walk alone, don’t drink too much, don’t wear that skirt. We live in a culture that views rape and sexual assault as inevitable, as something that “just happens” to (a certain kind) of woman, as something that can be prevented if we as women just follow that laundry list of unwritten rules — and always as something that is the victim’s responsibility to stop.

These attitudes are all part of rape culture. We live in a world where everyone from the media, to teachers, to school administrators, to many elected officials contribute to and normalize sexual violence against women. The media debate whether a rapist’s sentence will ruin his life — rather than talking about the lifelong impacts for the victim.

Sexual assault isn’t something that happens somewhere else, to someone else. It’s happening right here — to us, our sisters, our friends, our daughters. And it’s happened to me.

Every parent should know that this is what our children are being taught. Our daughters grow up hearing that if a boy hurts her, it’s love. Our sons grow up hearing that “boys will be boys” is an excuse for their actions.

Every parent should be acutely aware that this is the world their children are growing up in. While Brock Turner’s six-month sentence seems like such a far cry from justice, in actuality he is receiving more punishment than 97 percent of rapists, who face no jail time at all.

We must teach our children to do better to stop this community of inaction. We must stop victim-blaming altogether. And we must say that rape is rape — no excuses, no justifications.

 

ENDORSEMENT: Jimmy Anderson for 47th Assembly District of Wisconsin

I proudly endorse Wisconsin State Assembly candidate Jimmy Anderson for the Democratic nomination in the 47th Assembly District of Wisconsin.

Before I rage against the Democratic establishment yet another time (you know it’s coming), I’ll say a few things about the candidate that I’m endorsing. Jimmy Anderson was nearly killed by a drunk driver in 2010, in fact, Anderson is a quadriplegic as a result of the injuries he sustained in an automobile crash. After finishing law school, Anderson founded a non-profit group that gives out free breathalyzers and helps victims of drunk drivers with various expenses. Anderson is a progressive-minded Wisconsinite who will fight for government transparency, restore workers’ rights, protect Wisconsin’s environment, and fight for equal rights. This press release from almost a week ago lists Katie Belanger, a political consultant and LGBT rights advocate, as Anderson’s campaign treasurer.

Now, about that pesky Democratic establishment…Anderson is running for a state assembly seat that is currently held by another “Democrat” (if you wish to refer to him as such), Robb Kahl. Kahl supported Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker during his 2010 campaign, and, thanks to people like Kahl supporting Walker, Walker and his far-right Republican allies went on to bust labor unions in Wisconsin, repeal environmental regulations, drive down wages, and make it harder for women to ensure that they’re paid the same as their male counterparts, among other things. To say the least, Kahl and his buddies in the Democratic establishment in Wisconsin are not fond of the idea of someone running against him, and, while they didn’t make fun of Anderson’s disability, they did something that is, in my opinion, even worse:

This is such a distraction,” said Rep. Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh. “Think about this. Hopefully all 35 of us (Democrats in the Assembly) are going to come out strongly for Robb. Every dollar and every door that we do for our colleague is another dollar and another door that we’re not doing in a Republican district that we can win. When we pick up a seat or two fewer in the fall, I’m going to think about these so-called progressive hypocrites that went after this unnecessary seat to make themselves happy or to high-five their friends at the co-op.”

[…]

Hintz said he generally has mixed feelings about primary challenges in safe districts, adding that it’s not enough for the incumbent to have voted with the party. Kahl, he said, has been a team player who works to get Democrats elected throughout the state.

[…]

“I’m in the business of trying to elect more Democrats, not trying to increase the size of the Solidarity Singers,” Hintz said.

Gordon Hintz, who operated a motor vehicle without proof of insurance and, before that, was fined over $2,000 for sexual misconduct, is also the type of guy who disparages progressives in Dane County, Wisconsin’s second-largest county by population for their way of life, believes that democracy is a distraction, thinks that state legislators should spend more time getting political cronies elected than legislating, and attacks people for singing.

If Hintz’s remarks weren’t offensive enough, Kahl himself, who hasn’t officially decided whether or not to run for re-election, went full elitist when asked about Anderson’s candidacy:

Kahl has yet to announce whether he’ll run for reelection. “Jimmy’s been talking about running for a couple of months now, so this isn’t a surprise,” Kahl says. “Jimmy has a compelling life story, but he’s never held elected office, and the people in my district know me, they know that I run to serve, and I will have their support if seeking the nomination is what I decide to do.”

According to Article IV, Section 6 of the Wisconsin Constitution, anyone who is a resident of Wisconsin for at least one calendar year before the election, and is legally eligible to vote, can run for state assembly in the district in which he or she resides. For Kahl to attack Anderson for not having held prior elected office is, in my opinion, elitist, since both Kahl and Anderson both meet the legal qualifications to run for state assembly in the 47th Assembly District of Wisconsin.

If you’re tired of royalist, elitist, patronizing, demeaning, and out-of-touch political insiders thinking that the Democratic Party should be an exclusive club for them and their cronies, then support Jimmy Anderson for Wisconsin State Assembly in the 47th Assembly District.