Tag: War on Women

(TRIGGER WARNING) Stealthing is rape

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post contains a description of sexual assault. Reader discretion is advised.


Stealthing is RapeI fully understand that this story isn’t going to get a ton of attention anywhere because of the U.S. House vote on taking health insurance away from millions of Americans earlier today, but, as reported by the Madison-based Wisconsin State Journal’s Molly Beck, a Democratic member of the Wisconsin State Assembly has proposed legislation that would criminalize nonconsentual condom removal during sexual intercourse, which is also known as “stealthing”, in the State of Wisconsin:

As far as I know, no state has a law on the books explicitly defining stealthing as rape or explicitly criminalizing stealthing, and there’s not a lot of statistics about stealthing available. That doesn’t change the fact that stealthing is rape. If one sexual partner requests that another sexual partner use a condom during sexual intercourse between the two sexual partners, and then one sexual partner removes the condom and continues intercourse without using the condom without the other sexual partner consenting to sexual intercourse without use of the condom, that is rape.

Melissa Sargent, the Wisconsin legislator who proposed the anti-stealthing bill in her state, is one of the best advocates for women holding elected office anywhere in the country. Even though Sargent is a very progressive Democrat in a state whose government is controlled by very conservative Republicans, Sargent has had success when it comes to getting legislation designed to protect women enacted. A notable example of Sargent’s work when it comes to protecting women is Sargent’s successful 2015 push to make upskirting a felony in Wisconsin.

I encourage elected officials in all U.S. jurisdictions to criminalize stealthing, because stealthing is rape.

(TRIGGER WARNING) Comparing Bernie Sanders to a domestic abuser minimizes domestic abuse

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post contains a tweet that includes an image depicting violence against women. Reader discretion is strongly advised.


The Democratic Party is being increasingly dominated by two forms of progressivism. One form of progressivism prioritizes human rights issues, especially in regards to women’s reproductive rights, over other issues. This form of progressivism is associated with very liberal voters who voted for Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries/caucuses, who are the core base of support, although not 100% of the support, of the resistance to the Trump Administration. The other form of progressivism prioritizes economic issues, especially in regards to efforts to reduce income inequality, over other issues. This form of progressivism is very strongly associated with Bernie Sanders, in fact, Sanders has often by criticized by progressive critics of Sanders for having supported candidates for public office who oppose abortion rights (although Bernie himself has a very pro-choice voting record as a U.S. Senator) and not regarding reproductive rights as an important issue.

Sanders has come under extremely heavy criticism for publicly endorsing Omaha, Nebraska mayoral candidate Heath Mello, who, as a member of Nebraska’s unicameral state legislature, voted for legislation that required doctors to give women who consider terminating a pregnancy a list of ultrasound providers. Although Mello has publicly disavowed his past support for anti-abortion legislation, the bill that he supported as a state legislator was designed purely to shame women, and nobody can re-write history.

Sanders’s support for Mello has prompted a large amount of criticism from progressive critics of Sanders. While most of the criticism has been over the fact that Sanders has, despite being pro-choice himself, endorsed anti-choice politicians from time to time, as well as Sanders not regarding women’s rights issues as important, there has been at least one example of criticism of Sanders that goes straight into the gutter of American politics. This was a tweet that somebody going under the alias “BroStoogeRally” posted about Bernie endorsing Jon Ossoff, a pro-choice and anti-interventionist Democrat who is running in a special election in the 6th Congressional District of Georgia:

Really? Bernie endorses a candidate with a realistic chance of winning a U.S. House seat that was previously held by a Republican who is now a member of the Trump Cabinet, and this guy has the gall to compare Bernie to a domestic abuser? Bernie is, to my knowledge, not a domestic abuser, and comparing someone like Bernie to a domestic abuser minimizes violence against women, which is a serious problem in America. Although these statistics date back to no later than late 2014, nearly 5 million American women each year experience physical violence by an intimate partner, one in four American women will be victims of severe violence by an intimate partner, and over 38 million American women have experienced physical intimate partner violence at some point in their lifetimes. It is inherently clear that domestic violence is a major problem in America, and using graphic images of domestic violence to compare political figures who aren’t domestic abusers to domestic abusers minimizes the serious problem in America that is domestic violence.

CAMP’S CONSTANT #1: If women are standing up for their rights, Piers Morgan is being a smug jerk

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a series of blog posts called Camp’s Constants, in which I will write about various things to expect from right-wing extremists and their enablers.


Former CNN talk show host Piers Morgan, who is now a media personality in his native Britain, is no feminist. Sadly, he proved that by taking to Twitter and delivering a screed that would make the far-right and rabidly misogynistic men’s rights movement proud:

Piers’s latest anti-woman screed comes the same day that an extremely large group of women’s rights supporters are descending on Washington, D.C. to take part in the Women’s March on Washington. Unlike what Piers wants you to believe, feminism is not a threat to the male gender, in fact, there are many men, including me, who strongly support the goals of the women’s rights movement. Reproductive rights, equal pay for equal work, and eliminating sales taxes on feminine hygiene products are issues that I view as important. I believe that women should have the right to control their own bodies, receive the same pay that men receive for the same work, and not have to pay sales taxes on feminine hygiene products that they need.

Piers Morgan is a sexist jerk, and I’ll go ahead and predict that, if he holds a men’s march, there would be fewer than 200 people show up to participate. The vast majority of people here in America view the men’s rights movement for what it is: a desperate attempt to preserve the idiotic concept of male supremacy.

I hope that there is extremely large turnout for the Women’s March on Washington, and that many men and young people show up to support women’s rights and gender equality.

(TRIGGER WARNING) Donald Trump videotaped making pro-sexual assault comments in 2005

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post contains a description of part of a lewd conversation and information about a presidential candidate bragging about sexual assault. Reader discretion is strongly advised.


David Fahrenthold (link is to Twitter page) of The Washington Post has done some great investigative work on Donald Trump during his presidential campaign. Until earlier today, Fahrenthold has focused primarily on Donald Trump’s corrupt uses of his personal foundation.

However, Fahrenthold has now turned his attention to something that Trump did that was even more sinister than the corrupt dealings of the Trump Foundation.

Fahrenthold got his hands on a 2005 tape of Trump having a conversation with then-Access Hollywood host (now co-host of NBC’s Today show) Billy Bush, in which Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women. Here is just a small sample of the lewd conversation:

“I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her,” Trump says. “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.”

“And when you’re a star, they let you do it,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”

“Whatever you want,” says another voice, apparently Bush’s.

“Grab them by the (female genitalia),” Trump says. “You can do anything.”

Trump actually used a five-letter word beginning with the letter “p”, not “female genitalia”, in the actual conversation.

That conversation is a textbook example of how pervasive rape culture is in America. Donald Trump, in a videotaped conversation with a member of the media, bragged about sexual assault on camera and bragged about how famous people, such as himself, can get away with it. The truth of the matter is that no person in this country is above the law’s commands, and that kissing another person, grabbing another person’s genitals, sexual intercourse with another person, etc., without the other person’s consent is sexual assault, which is a criminal offense in every U.S. jurisdiction. Billy Bush is just as guilty of aiding and abetting rape culture as Trump is, because he goaded Trump into making degrading comments about women. NBC should fire him immediately from his current job.

I don’t have a wife, a girlfriend, a sister, a daughter, or a niece, but, if I had a wife, a girlfriend, sister(s), daughter(s), or niece(s), I would not let them anywhere near Donald Trump.

Kathleen Vinehout for Governor of Wisconsin? NO WAY!

It’s become public knowledge in Wisconsin political circles that State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma) really wants to run for the Democratic nomination for Governor of Wisconsin in 2018.

However, Vinehout is not a progressive, and, in fact, her views on some political issues are in line with far-right Republicans like Scott Walker.

Prior to being elected to the Wisconsin State Senate, Vinehout was a member of Democrats for Life, an anti-abortion organization. As a Wisconsin State Senator, Vinehout voted with Scott Walker and the gun manufacturers’ lobby for legislation designed to make it easier for off-duty and former police officers to carry out school shootings in Wisconsin public schools. While Vinehout is great on most economic issues and issues related to ending corruption in politics, her views on social issues are very right-wing and more in line with Republicans like Scott Walker.

While I will not move to Wisconsin to run for governor myself, after this year’s general election, I will write a blog post strongly criticizing a second potential Democratic candidate for Governor of Wisconsin. Make no mistake about it, the individual who I will criticize is the embodiment of a Scott Walker Democrat, and, if the individual were to run for governor, the individual would have a lot of support from the Democratic establishment, but I will not provide any more clues as to who the individual is at this time.

(TRIGGER WARNING) Donald Trump allegedly raped an underage girl repeatedly during the 1990’s

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The following blog post contains a graphic description of sexual assault. Reader discretion is strongly advised.


It’s not just a lack of campaign funds and using his campaign money to enrich himself (see here and here) that are major political problems for Trump. Now, Trump is being sued in federal court for allegedly raping an underage girl multiple times in the 1990’s at sex parties hosted by ultra-wealthy sex offender Jeffrey Epstein of “Lolita Express” infamy. Here’s the details on the Trump rape allegations:

In the court filing, “Defendant Trump” allegedly “initiated sexual contact with Plaintiff at four different parties. On the fourth and final sexual encounter with Defendant Trump, Defendant Trump tied Plaintiff to a bed, exposed himself to Plaintiff, and then proceeded to forcibly rape Plaintiff. During the course of this savage sexual attack, Plaintiff loudly pleaded with Defendant Trump to stop but with no effect. Defendant Trump responded to Plaintiff’s pleas by violently striking Plaintiff in the face with his open hand and screaming that he would do whatever he wanted.”

In the next section, she adds that “Immediately following this rape, Defendant Trump threatened Plaintiff that, were she ever to reveal any of the details of the sexual and physical abuse of her by Defendant Trump, Plaintiff and her family would be physically harmed if not killed.”

The defendant is asking a federal judge to waive New York state’s five-year statute of limitations in sexual assault cases. You can view the full text of the lawsuit here.

This isn’t the first time Trump has been accused of rape. Trump’s first wife, Ivana Trump, publicly claimed that Trump made her feel “violated” during sexual intercourse. That prompted the Trump campaign to falsely claim that marital rape isn’t a crime (in all U.S. jurisdictions, marital rape is a criminal offense).

It isn’t just Donald Trump’s bigotry, use of campaign cash to line his own pockets, failed businesses, and penchant for fraud that are disgusting. His sexual behavior is also disgusting and unacceptable, and, if Trump wants to talk about the sex lives of Democratic politicians, I’ve got no problem talking about Trump’s sex life.

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: NO on Missouri Personhood Amendment

The Republican-controlled Missouri House of Representatives advanced a so-called “personhood amendment” to the Missouri Constitution out of committee on a party-line vote. If placed on the ballot by both houses of the Missouri General Assembly and approved by voters, the so-called “personhood amendment” would grant more legal rights to zygotes, embryos, and fetuses than women, and, in effect, ban abortion, many forms of contraception, and stem cell research in Missouri.

Should the so-called “personhood amendment” be placed on the Missouri ballot, I strongly encourage Missouri voters to vote NO on the proposed amendment.

The so-called “personhood amendment” effectively grants more legal rights to fetuses, which are dependent on the would-be mother for survival, than women. Unlike what Republicans and bible-thumping bigots claim, life legally and biologically begins at birth, not conception or at any other point before birth. The so-called “personhood amendment” would strip Missouri women of their legal right to control their own body and make their own health care decisions.

Voters in states like North Dakota and Mississippi have rejected similar measures in recent years, and I believe that Missouri voters should, if it appears on their ballot, vote NO on the so-called “personhood amendment”.

U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team fights for equal pay in sports

While the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team (USMNT) is struggling badly in its efforts to qualify for the 2018 FIFA (Men’s) World Cup in Russia, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) is winning on the field and fighting for justice in front of the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission:

On Thursday, five of the biggest stars on the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) — Carli Lloyd, Becky Sauerbrunn, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, and Hope Solo — filed a federal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, charging the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) with wage discrimination.

The players, who were all key members of the Women’s World Cup championship team last year, say that while the popularity and success of the USWNT generates revenue for the federation, they are still paid less than their male counterparts.

According to USWNT member Becky Sauerbrunn, the pay discrimination complaint is supported by the entire USWNT roster:

The USWNT members are being very honest when they say that they’re being discriminated against by the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF), which is responsible for front-office management of both the women’s and men’s national soccer teams here in the United States. In fact, USWNT members get paid far less than their male counterparts, despite the fact that the USWNT is expected to become responsible for generating more of the USSF’s revenue than the USMNT, as well as the fact that the USWNT is the reigning Women’s World Cup champions while the USMNT may not be able to qualify for their World Cup. In fact, USWNT members have been paid as little as 40% of their male counterparts, despite being considerably more successful than their male counterparts.

Once again, the USWNT is proving that they are badass American heroes on and off the field. I support the fight for equal pay for equal play.

 

Texas grand jury INDICTS two anti-abortion zealots behind Planned Parenthood smear campaign

Texas grand jury INDICTS two anti-abortion zealots behind Planned Parenthood smear campaign

A grand jury in Harris County, Texas (includes nearly all of Houston) has officially indicted two individuals associated with the altered videos that were part of an attempt to smear Planned Parenthood over fetal tissue research:

  • David Daleiden, executive director of the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress (CMP) – Indicted on a felony count of tampering with a governmental record and a misdemeanor count related to the purchase of human organs
  • Sandra Merritt, employee of CMP – indicted on a count of tampering with a governmental record

The grand jury was originally convened to investigate Planned Parenthood over the videos, but decided to turn the tables on the anti-abortion smear artists and indict two of them instead. I hope that Daleiden and Merritt are prosecuted to the fullest and fairest extent of the law.